Dance

Meenakshi Srinivasan’s strikes a fine balance

Meenakshi Srinivasan performing at Krishna Gana Sabha.

Meenakshi Srinivasan performing at Krishna Gana Sabha.   | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

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Meenakshi Srinivasan’s performance blended style and artistic visualisation

We grade Indian classical dancers, especially Bharatanatyam dancers, on their dancing skills, maturity and artistic visualisation as well, unlike in the West, where choreography and dancing are considered separate domains. Meenakshi Srinivasan has the style, charm and energy and, most importantly, the craft to present her best. The final result then depends on the balance of ingredients.

The invocation ‘Bhogindra Shaayinam’ (Kuntalavarali, Jhampa, Swati Tirunal) was an inspired visualisation. The dancer commenced with a short musical interlude (Kuntalavarali, khandam) that was followed by benedictory verses from Kulasekhara Alwar’s Mukunda Mala Stotram, after which the song began. Keeping the catchy pallavi as a refrain, the sahitya was rendered in different speeds, while sollu and swara passages alternated. It was a 10-minute treat aurally and visually as music arrangement (K.Hariprasad) and rhythm (V.Vedakrishnan) complimented the dancer’s light-footed grace and maturity in incorporating the nritta without disturbing the sthayi. It brought alive lively visions of the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. Meenakshi was ably supported by Jayashree Ramanathan (nattuvangam) and Ishwar Ramakrishnan (violin).

The excellent music continued into the rare Thanjavur Quartet padavarnam, ‘Sarasa ninnu’ (Karnataka Kapi, Rupaka), a sringara-bhakti composition. Meenakshi’s approach is non-ostentatious, therefore her jathis were chic, straightforward and crisp. Notably fast and exploring the three levels of standing, half-seated and fully seated steps were the charana jathi and the last charana swara. Her nritta style marries grace and geometry — sharp Natyambharam with arms stretched out and graceful rounded adavus gives her a distinctive lasya style.

As the nayika yearning for Brihadeeswara, she brought in the intensity early on in the varnam. She gave it an immediacy, and made it into a personal conversation with the nayaka. She has a newly developed arsenal and that is her ability to tear up when deeply moved. The devotional mood and the pleading was portrayed in an unbroken thread demonstrating her capacity to hold a thought for so long. But there is a fallout of this intimate conversational mode, it makes the content heavy.

The light-hearted Kshetragna padam ‘Kodi Koose’ (Saurashtram, visualisation by Priyadarsini Govind) and the intense Jayadeva Ashtapadi ‘Priye Charusheele’ (Sumanesa Ranjani, khanda chapu, tuned by Hariprasad) were portrayed with good timing, subtlety and enviable concentration. She concluded with a happy Desh thillana (Adi, Rajkumar Bharati) that included a verse based on Vande Mataram.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 1:02:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/meenakshi-srinivasans-strikes-a-fine-balance/article30459726.ece

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