Double delight

Making an impact: Sharanya Chandran  

Usually, at India International Centre’s Double Bill Concerts, one dancer edges out the other. However, this time, both the performers – Odissi exponent Puspa Panda and Bharatanatyam dancer Sharanya Chandran – gave superlative performances.

While the lithe and lucid Puspa was everything an Odissi dancer is expected to be, Sharanya breathed life and beauty into the linear structure of her form, making the traditional repertoire quite absorbing to the audience.

Puspa exuded grace with excellent mukhabhinaya (facial expressions) in the two lengthy pieces she chose to present in the first half of the evening, on Krishna and Shabari. Both songs had their singular charm and demanded divergent emotional response. The artiste rose to the occasion, in fact, excelled in bringing alive the shringara rasa as well as the devotion (bhakti) from two different protagonists who stood apart in their distinctive ages.

While the Krishna dance, spiced as it was, with footwork delineations tickled the viewer with its romantic sensitivity, the flow of devotion from an aged tribal woman Shabari coupled with Ram’s immeasurable compassion took the dance to a different level.

Puspa Panda

Puspa Panda  

Simple gesticulations and matching expressions like the gopi (Radha) shuddering at being unaware of an invisible Krishna closing her eyes from behind and then the bashful yet happy looks on realising her beloved, the surreptitious look before untangling her anklets one after the other are some laudable instances worked out with care to detail and creativity. The Shabari piece juxtaposed the divine Ram with the devotee. Puspa made for an arresting picture of Ram kneeling down (with back to the audience) stringing his bow and slowly heaving himself up to the eulogising verse being recited in the background.

Emulating a hunched and tottering Shabari plucking forest fruits and gathering them in her basket, the dancer most convincingly picturised the devotee’s utter dismay at seeing the lord who so far only resided in her heart, live in front of her. The surprise and joy-giving way to ecstasy was brought out by the artiste with aplomb. Smearing herself all over with the dust from the feet of her lord, Shabari’s offering of the fruit to him was done in great detail so as to attribute credibility to the depth of bhakti that could arise in a simple tribal woman. The concluding ‘tann namami Ramachandram...’ refrain once again depicted the physical and divine attributes of lord Rama with clarity and diversity in expression. The blue costume was apt for the theme.

The Arthanareeswar invocation was an unexpected opening to Sharanya Chandran’s Bharatanatyam recital, which formed the second half of the evening. Though it started with Adi Sankara’s verse, the artiste expounded Vidyapathi’s ‘jaya jaya Shankara, jaya tripurari..’ composition with vigorous footwork balanced with lucid expressions. The dancer captured the varying energies of Shiva and Shakti principles – the feminine grace of Shakti as opposed to the masculinity of Shiva with a seamless shift of stances and gestures in quick succession.

The entire performance was done in an unhurried fashion even while keeping to the pace of the taal and not losing out a split second. In fact, the hallmark of Sharanya’s dance was this unique quality of unhurried grace, a sort of an artistic pause before going on to the next verse of the song along with rigour in execution of footwork with a smile that never left her face as she navigated through nritta with jati patterns.

The varnam was evocative. She handled it with such ease and elan that it turned out to be the most interesting piece to watch. The visual impact was stupendous. The footwork following each stanza either to mnemonics or swara was not complex but was well laid out with the last jati pattern being the best. The content of the varnam as well as the ‘ninda stuti’ that followed (Vidyapathi composition) were in keeping with the theme of love.

Guru Geeta Chandran on the nattuvangam was compelling. K.Venkateswaran on the vocals, Raghavendra Prasath on the violin and Manohar Balakrishnan on the mridangam were a complimenting orchestra.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:29:41 AM |

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