Nritya Pratibha festival, hosted by Rasika Ranjani Sabha at their Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Sabhagruha, Ghatkopar, featured four segments spread over two days.
Four young dancers from Abhijat Academy presented traditional Kathak. ‘Dhani Vrindavan’ keertan retraced the roots of Kathak parampara wherein dancers ask people to listen to their story of how gopis bullied the notorious Krishna in exchange for butter.
Teentaal presented as a Sargam (Raag Kedar) showed beautiful movements through todas, tatkars, paran and elaborate footwork. Kavitta, poetry traditionally set in Teentaal, was dedicated to the deities. Next came a Sargam set in raag Malkauns highlighting the Sringaar abhinaya wherein the nayika is a Roop garvita, a woman who takes pride in her beauty and feels empowered.
‘Main Radha’ the national award-winning song for choreography from the movie Vishwaroopam was followed by Bhairavi tarana by the legend, the late Ravi Shankar.
Mohiniyattom performance of Sangeetha Rajeev and Vidya Nair, disciples of Guru Geetha Vijayshankar, started with the customary Ganesh stuthi in Gaula, Adi taal, followed by a padam ‘Panimathi’ by Swati Tirunal in Ahiri and Misra Chapu. The nayika laments to her sakhi about the pangs of separation from Lord Vishnu, that is reflected in the Jivatma’s longing to reunite with the Paramatma.
A varnam in Vijayanagari and Adi taal, had immense scope for nritta and abhinaya. Based on Silappidikaram by Ilango Adigal , the story of Kannagi, and her husband Kovalan’s ruin due to lust and indiscretion, was delineated with Vidya playing the roles of Kannagi and Madhvi and Sangeetha playing Kovalan.
It was followed by the famous lullaby ‘Omanathingal’ in Raagamalika and Taalamalika with Vidya emoting the lyrics of Eriyamman Thampi as a mother who relates her child to all beautiful things in nature such as moon, lotus, deer, peacock and so on. The dance concluded with a tillana in raga Dhanasree and Adi taal, a suitable conclusion to a pristine performance.
Pushpanjali and ‘Shri Vignarajam Bhaje’ in Gambhira Nattai, Adi and khanda chapu choreographed by Guru Ananda Shankar Jayant set the fast pace of the second day’s peformance by disciple Krupa Ravi. In what they termed as ‘Devi Upasana’, three different pieces were combined: celestial manifestation of the goddess in a slokam in raga Ranjani, Mhate Daru varnam in Khamas and Shree Chakra Mantram.
The fire in the dancer’s eyes depicting the havan performed by Malayadwaja Pandian was intense.
The feisty duel scene between Shiva and Meenakshi before the latter coyly gives in was energetically executed but the overdose of arrows could have been shortened. The quick contrast from veeram to sringara bhava was noteworthy. In Shatodari, a variety of poses of the Devi were well illustrated. Shree Chakra Mantra followed, the five elements were depicted and Aigiri Nandini in pursuit. The whole piece was a medley, to enhance the scope for nritta and abhinaya.
Subramania Bharati’s ‘Dikku teriyada kaattil’ in Ragamalika and Adi tala was packed with quick footwork covering the entire stage. Joy-filled images of the forest’s flora and fauna contrasted with fear-inducing ones such as the tiger and hunter. Krupa displayed admirable agility and mercurial emotive skills in this piece. She has a mobile face and capability to change expressions quickly.
Conversation between Yashoda and Krishna was effectively brought out in ‘Maadu meikkum kanne’ in Aadi Tisra nadai.
The closing item was Jayadeva’s ‘Dasavataram’ in Ragamalika, Khanda Chapu, interspersed with swara notes and sancharis set to music by Prema Ramamurthy. It began like a tillana and moved on to sahitya ‘Pralaya payodhijale.’ ‘Vedanudharate,’ a capsule of poses of the ten incarnations.
Group presentation by Sushma Bane’s disciples had the support of Sowmya (vocals) , K. N. Venkatesh (mridangam) and S. R. Balasubramanian (violin). Pushpanjali in Saraswati followed by alarippu was an interesting experiment on Saraswati movements.
Jatiswaram in Vasanta, Rupakam was spirited and patterned on the choreography of Nalanda with minor changes by the guru.
‘Keshava Madhava’ in Marathi with lyrical passages showed scenes from Mahabharat such as Draupadi chira haranam and Kurukshetra sequences, enhanced by Geeta saram. Bhajan ‘Atma Nivasi Rama’ depicted important episodes from Ramayana; Aaranya vasi conveyed through forest animals, Ahalya story and Vali vadam. The piece was capped with Ram Lakshman chanting. A vibrant tillana in Hindolam with synchronised attami, eye movements and dancers moving in and out alternatingly was appealing.
Meera Deepak Bane, Anushka Pradapan, Anokhee Iyer and Shailaja Gaonkar trained by Sushma Bane were fresh and lively.
Uma Rele, Principal of Nalanda, was the chief guest and did the honours. Title of Natya Ratna was given to all the gurus and title, Yuva Rasika Sitara, to all the young dancers.
On both days M G Ramakrishnan, president of the sabha, introduced the presenters and honoured them.
‘We believe in encouraging young talent by giving them a stage and we also recognise the efforts of the guru,” said Saroja Srinivasan, festival coordinator of the sabha.