It was an evening treat to air-phobic Delhiites who braved the threat of smog to watch Vidhya Subramanian’s solo presentation, not strictly within the precincts and concerns of a structured stage show but a slightly casual, classy interactive performance.
More on the lines of a chamber concert with nothing of a conventional ahaarya except minimalistic Bharatanatyam costume sans other make up, Vidhya’s unflinching focus came to the fore with her repertoire that had a pattern to it — “Reciprocity” (exchange). She alternately depicted the shringara and bhakti aspects of dance to underline the co-existence of this two-pronged approach to the Almighty which is at the basis of classical dance. The artiste kept her briefing really short making her dance speak for her and it did in the clearest of terms. Going by the pulse of the audience, she was sensitive enough to choose Hindi and Sanskrit lyrics with just two songs in regional language (Telugu and Kannada), quite popular in dance circuit.
On one hand was a eulogy to Goddess Saraswati, to cosmic energy in the forms of Shambu Natanam and Goddess Durga stuti juxtaposed with the soft devotion of Yasoda to child Krishna in Purandara Dasa’s “Jagadodharana...”, the erotic in Javali “Yera Ra Raa...” (Telugu) and the sublime love of Radha in the Ashtapadi “Kuru Yadu Nandana...”.
With excellent dance movements and mime as against hedging each with footwork, going by the venue and the elite viewers Vidhya made for a clear cut delineation of her concept.
Her virtuosity was visible in her handling of three different emotions that of a mother awed by her divine child, a nayika enticing her beloved (God) and the Radha-Krishna divine union and its aftermath — all of which were so internalised by the dancer. She was poise personified as the nayika displaying coquettish looks with a body language that said it all yet was in full control going by the classicality of this genre; she was like quick-silver as she traced the ten manifestations (Dashavatar) of the Supreme Lord in absolute clarity and as Radha suffused with love and contentment Vidhya played the role really well, by just squatting on the floor and effusing passion. Every line of the lyric was elucidated with facial and gestural expressions that conveyed the form and feeling with aesthetic lucidity.
Mime and movement
Durga and Shambu Natanam defined two complimentary cosmic energies with markedly varied mime and movement.
Despite perfection and beauty of execution, where is the dichotomy between shringara and bhakti when the latter doesn’t figure in the nine artistic moods (Navrasa). Bhakti is an emotion (not a state of being) and can be felt in any of the listed nine rasa like for instance, in shringara or karunya or in shanta. Though the twain shall never meet has been doing the rounds in many a dance conference and Vidhya also pointed it out at the very outset before giving her own take, the topic per se is superfluous as this critic sees it.