Bharatanatyam Dance

Margam with Bharatidasan

Abhayakaram Krishnan and Preetha Prabhudhas

Abhayakaram Krishnan and Preetha Prabhudhas   | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Krishnan and Preetha presented ‘Guhamayam’ for Natyarangam

Dr. S. Ramanathan Endowment Programme of Natyarangam featured a Bharatanatyam recital by Abhayakaram Krishnan and his disciple, Preetha Prabudass. Krishnan is a disciple of senior Kalakshetra alumnus Jayashree Narayanan, Puducherry. According to Tamil scholar and family member of the late Prof. S. Ramanathan, Dr. S. Raghuraman, as the endowment was in memory of the renowned Carnatic musician and musicologist who brought to light the antiquity of music in Tamil literature, it is befitting that artistes employ only Tamil compositions.

Musicologist Sujatha Vijayaraghavan and Natyarangam chose the Puducherry-born Tamil writer-poet-social activist Bharatidasan on whose compositions Krishnan and Preetha’s Bharatanatyam margam ‘Paavendharin Guhamayam’ was based. As Professor Raghuraman explained, they were Bharathidasan’s early compositions predominantly dedicated to Muruga, perhaps to provide musicians with pure Tamil compositions and for dancers, who were emerging out of the shadows of the Devadasi tradition, non-sringara pieces.

While Bharathidasan, born Subburathinam, had mentioned the raga and tala details in his compositions, there are no notations or practical references to the rendering style available. Musician Dr. Vanathy Raghuraman, daughter of S. Ramanathan, tuned the poetry into a varnam (‘Jaalam seivadhanal’, Bhairavi, Rupaka), padam (‘Solaiyil oru naal’, ragamalika, Adi), keerthanam (‘Singaara Shanmugane’, Shanmukhapriya, Adi) and the harvest song (‘Naatu maadhare paatu paduvom’, Maand, Adi). The rest were tuned by Krishnan and S. Gopakumar (tillana, Desh, Adi).

The duo opened with a bright Pushpanjali (Hamsadhwani, Adi); there was an impressive entry on the diagonal, followed by crisp execution of adavus, together and then alternating. Krishnan’s stamps on the wooden parquet flooring could be heard midway through the auditorium, while his araimandi would embarrass youngsters. There was a moment early on when he performed a small movement, a sway of his body from side to side with the music. Here is an intuitive dancer with a natural sense of style.

‘The visualisation of the varnam (Krishnan) and thillana (Guru Jayashree) were as per the traditional padhathi, trikala jathi, thattu-mettu for lyrics, panchanadai in a thillana korvai, et al, but with a few twists. The vilamba kala opening in the trikala jathi in the varnam was faster, almost to madhyama kala, and then regular from then on with the three speeds, tisra gati, kuraippu finish.

The thattu mettu beginning in chathusram had a sudden surprise fast three-beat ‘thai thai ta’ before continuing the chatusram, tisram etc. The third was a ‘peacock’ jathi with sequences in tisram. Nothing too dramatic or complicated but calm. The nritta was always clean, uncluttered, with Krishnan being very agile and Preetha, dignified, but heavier on her feet. Both were, however, beat perfect.

Enjoyable swara session

The music was enjoyable, the muktayi swaram arresting; the charana swaras started surprisingly in a slow tempo, picking up speed with successive swaras. The last sequence had multiple swara sentences. The lyrics were devotional beseeching Subramanya for attention, speaking of surrender with the sanchari of Avvaiyar and the ‘sutta pazham’ episode. The dancers handled the lyrics with maturity.

Romance in the ragamalika padam was handled with dignity by Preetha; she could have gone deeper. The music sounded a bit filmy. Krishnan’s solo on Shanmuga was reminiscent of the old M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar songs, and captured easily the devotional content. It was crisply choreographed with nritta and the details of Shanmugha’s birth. The succeeding harvest song and ‘Inimai thamizh mozhi emadhu’ (Khambodi, Adi) were all fillers more notable for the music than dance.

Krishnan and Preetha concluded with a high energy, well-executed tillana, traditional steps except for the musical instruments introduced in the pancha nadai korvai. Krishnan’s aerial utpluta brhamaris were outstanding. He could have done better with the duet visualisation; he has the potential to make his presentations more dramatic.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 8:59:38 AM |

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