Dance

Still a work in progress

Gopukiran Sadasivan and Ashin Gopukiran performing at Brahma Gana Sabha in Chennai

Gopukiran Sadasivan and Ashin Gopukiran performing at Brahma Gana Sabha in Chennai   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

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There were moments in Gopukiran and Ashin’s performance when the rapport was missing

The dancing couple Gopukiran Sadasivan, disciple of Mythili and Girija Chandran and Shantha and Dhananjayan, and Ashin Kiran, a Kalakshetra alumnus and a disciple of the Dhananjayans, are striving to establish their identity; they also run a Bharatanatyam school ‘Kiran’s Academy of Natya.’ Their concise Margam contained a sloka on Rama (‘Surya vamsha tilaka’ written by Gopukiran, Kharaharapriya), padavarnam (‘Rama neeve na rakshaku’, Kharaharapriya, Thenmadam Narasimhachari, visualised by Shantha and Dhananjayan), Rama-Sita samvadam (Sita part written by Sudarsan Srinivasan, Rama’s rejoinder by Dr. S. Raguraman, tuned by Udupi Srinath in Ahir Bhairav and Madhuvanthi respectively) and a thillana (Ritigowla, Adi, Rijesh Gopalakrishnan, sahitya by Gopukiran).

It was a well-rehearsed show, marked by a high level of coordination. The duo’s talent and sound training showed in their well-timed nritta and easy mime. However, they look like they are yet to mature as a performing pair. Bharatanatyam is essentially a solo art form and needs sensitive adaptation for a duo. For example, during the varnam pallavi, ‘Kamakoti sundaraakaara’ when the dancers take turns at describing Rama’s beauty, one felt the involvement came down when Ashin looked at Gopukiran during his turn, without mirroring his sentiments, here, admiration of Rama, or looking at the deity in question.

The varnam on the whole was a riot of rhythm and melody, each jostling for attention. The jathis were beautiful but the dancers need to be more agile and work more on araimandi.

The pair performed a contemporary take on the Ramayana, a conversation between Rama and Sita in Ayodhya, a sort of ‘tu-tu-main-main’ blame game. Sita is the aggrieved party and blames Rama for not looking after her properly in the forest, enabling Ravana’s abduction, and for allowing others to doubt her chastity and allowing the ‘agni pariksha’ when they subsequently re-unite. Rama refuses to accept the blame and accuses Seetha of accompanying him to the forest despite his wishes and asking him to capture the golden deer when Lakshmana offered to. Both dancers were expressive and involved, especially Ashin’s breakdown when Rama counters her accusations was sensitive. Yet one felt that this two-way conversation removed artistic suggestion, the bedrock of Bharatanatyam. That’s a point to mull over.

The performance was buoyed by the individual contribution of supporting artistes — calm guide Balakrishnan (nattuvangam), Udupi Srinath (vocal) who was most inspiring, the committed Keshavan (mridangam), the melodious Sujith Naik (flute) and the tuneful Sikhamani (violin).

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 4:36:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/still-a-work-in-progress/article30576013.ece

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