Dance

Lord’s bond with Yamuna

Showing the way: Dancers performing at “Sakhyam”

Showing the way: Dancers performing at “Sakhyam”  

The river’s presence in Krsna’s life was brought alive through a Bharatanatyam recital

The curtain opened to a symbolic presence of a flute and a yellow ‘pagdi’ (headgear) atop a pleated blue cloth draped to a stand to denote the content of the performance - namely river Yamuna’s life-long friendship with Krsna. Aptly termed “Sakhyam”, this Bharatanatyam recital by ‘Trayam’ (three) viz. Anuradha Venkatraman, Ramaa Venugopal and Radhika Ramanujan – all Bengaluru-based dancers – asserts Yamuna’s paramount presence in lord Krsna’s life right from childhood to his end on earth. In doing so, the presentation tried to establish the river (personified as ‘she’) as a ‘sakhi and sahagamini’ (friend/one who walks with you) of the lord, for which they narrated various anecdotes from the life of Krsna through the voice of Yamuna as she figures in the background and foreground. Music and song in Sanskrit inlaid with a briefing on the incident being played out on stage was appreciable.

Code of conduct

The regular execution of footwork patterns with converging and retracting formations prior to moving over to abhinaya to underline the anecdotes by the three dancers established the linearity of this dance form which didn’t provide room for graceful bends or moulding of body line as it adhered to the classical code of conduct that has been imposed by this genre.

Reminisces of the river like reflecting the moon in her waters to pacify an adamant child Krsna, the vanquishing of Kalindi in Yamuna, her counselling the gopis on Krsna’s divinity while they lie naked in the waters, the disappearance of Krsna after Maha Ras, the combat with Kansa at Mathura, Krsna who picks up the reins and volunteers to drive Arjuna’s chariot in the Mahabharat war, a lonely Krsna eking out Gandhari’s curse while Yamuna lovingly consoles Him were enacted with details.

Of these, the Kalindi nartan and the stylised nritta depicting the Mahabharat war are worth a mention.

However, there is a lot of scope for refining this presentation, coming as it does from seniors in the field of dance. Yamuna, the river, signifies perennial flow which means continuity and therefore time (kaal). A dance dwelling on waters as its theme should be able to hold on to these three integral images and work around it accordingly. In the case of Sakhya, it seemed like the theme was being made to fit formatted Bharatanatyam and not vice-versa. A dancer running round the stage with waving gestures to denote the river in every sequence was rather redundant.

It was also a little surprising that while the river was personified, child Krsna was an imaginary character being walked by Yashoda when three dancers were there to depict all three characters on scene; the tillana though brilliant from the dance point of view was again trying to fit the theme into a la Bharatanatyam format. Some amount of poetic licence can be taken by the dancers if a thematic performance needs to be convincing.

The colour combination of the costumes could also be re-considered. The show was held at Tamil Sangam auditorium in New Delhi.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:23:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/lords-bond-with-yamuna/article25790143.ece

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