SGN’s rich legacy in full display

The anniversary show spoke volumes of Guru Ranganayaki Jayaraman’s imagination and her disciples’ enterprise

The 80th anniversary celebrations of Sri Saraswathi Gana Nilayam, one of the oldest dance schools in the city, turned out to be a great crowd puller at the Music Academy recently. The show proved that the legacy of the renowned school, alma mater for thousands of students spread all over the world, is safe in the hands of the current generation. The performance, ‘Padhumaigal Sollum Kadhaigal’ was a grand spectacle, in which 80 artistes — alumni and students — participated. It was traditional with contemporary touches, well-planned and lucid. The presentation stood out for agility, abhinaya, rhythmic variations and impressive nritta.

‘Padhumaigal Sollum Kadhaigal,’ the brainwave of founder Guru Ranganayaki Jayaraman, was brought to life with ingenuity and the excellent choreographic skill of Padmini Krishnamurthy, a senior disciple. But why Vikramaditya? “Our exceptionally talented teacher is akin to King Vikramaditya, who had ruled over Ujjaini. We have put ourselves on par with the dolls on the golden throne of Vikramaditya. We wanted to display the talents she tapped so well and honed and through that convey her greatness just like the dolls, which explain the superiority of Vikramaditya to King Bhoja.

The tale opened with King Bhoja hunting animals in a forest. What follows is a fight between a tiger and the king. After discovering the throne and worshipping it, the king tries to ascend it. But every time he tries to sit on it, one of the dolls explains the greatness of Vikramaditya and asks him if he is fit for the throne.

The first doll comes out with the story of how Indira seeks the advice of Vikramaditya to pick the better of the two dancers — Urvasi and Rambha. Prathana and Geetha came up with a combination of navarasa (mukha abhinaya) interwoven with yathis and nadaibetham. The yathis in the increasing and decreasing order were a combination of mridangam-mridangam, mridangam-shrothovaham, mridangam-goutcham and mridangam-damro. Shivani Krishnamurthy as Vikramaditya revealed her expertise by executing jathis in the trikalam.

A Halloween effect made the second segment — Vikram and Vetal — interesting with a few dancers dressed as vampires, the solkattu and misra thala jathis creating the atmosphere. Veera rasam ruled roost as Shivani fought with the vampires, all the while searching for the Vetal. A ‘drumstick tree’ materialised (sets Thota Tharani) and the vetal was seen hanging down a branch. Swathi Gupta K as the Vetal stole the scene with her mukha abhinaya and holding on to Shivani’s back in chatusra nadai.

Padmini had thought well to use Kuraippu jathis (Korvais or space in the reducing order) in the next episode, where a king tries to save a baby snake from the eagle, Garudan, played by Bhargavi.

The Pesamadanthai story, which followed next, had a dab of Sringara and ended with Vikramaditya marrying the damsel. The oonjal moments were beautiful and well-visualised.

There was never a dull moment in the final story about a town cursed to sleep in the morning and work at night. As Sargunavathi played with her friends, together they spun a pinnal (braid with ropes) within five minutes sending the audience into raptures. The next moment, an asura dragged away Sargunavathi. Alluring was Divya Gopalan’s portrayal as the asura. Commendable was the way she balanced roudram, veeram and hasyam.

The Mohanakalyani thillana, composed by Asha Ramesh, was rich and danced to perfection by 10 participants. Dressed in colourful and elegant costumes, the students beautifully wove the story of the mighty King Vikramaditya using appropriate backdrop (with LEDs). The musical ensemble comprised vocals by Asha Ramesh and Rohit Jayaraman, mridangam composition and mridangam by Killidaikurichi Rammohan. Concert choreography and nattuvangam were by Padmini Krishnamurthy.

‘Jaya Veera Hanuman – Harikathayil Bharatham’ was the highligh of performance at the Narada Gana Sabha on Day 2. The participants were from various dance schools abroad, founded by the students of Ranganayaki Jayaraman. Again, it was an innovative idea of guru Ranganayaki, who had combined the two art forms. Bouncing back after a serious health setback in January last, Teacher had choreographed the Harikatha and featured it along with a varnam in the Bharatanatyam format. Senior disciples of Binesh Mahadevan, Padmalakshmee Suresh, Padmapriya Prakash, veteran actor Revathy and Chithra Muralidharan, presented pushpanjali, kavuthuvam, thillana and padam (Krishna Nee Begane). Super seniors of the school ended the show with a delectable kummi.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 8:35:26 PM |

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