Friday Review

Bringing alive the essence

SHOWING THE WAY Amrita Lahiri

SHOWING THE WAY Amrita Lahiri  

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Amrita Lahiri showcased her versatility in her performance in New Delhi.

At last, there is still hope for the Kuchipudi dance form which is presently in a chaotic condition in its home State, if Amrita Lahiri’s recent performance is anything to go by. For a large part, the dancer has been authentic to the dance form, neither allowing it to seep into its close parallel, the Bharatanatyam nor presenting a loosely-knit structure in the name of Kuchipudi which is often happening these days.

There was vigorous footwork, darting leaps and jumps, controlled abhinaya that refused to over-exaggerate itself and the fine body kinetics where the sway and the springing lend an airy charm to the dance. Amrita has all these and much more to display taking her audience on an aesthetic trip. But the assorted pieces she chose to present remained stand-alones without merging into a wholesome repertoire. Thus we had an excerpt from Usha Parinayam, a classic Kuchipudi dance-drama, where the dancer gave us a brilliant exposition both in terms of skilful footwork and coy abhinaya of the mythological heroine Usha’s romantic dream which she shares with her friend (sakhi). Highly amorous portrayal of a maiden whose flower-decked bed is unable to hold her pangs of love, where the lotus flowers fail to understand her predicament and such poetic flights of fancy were brought out by the artiste with utmost care and detail lending a quaint grace to the Utopian dream. The movements, expressions and gesticulations were all in keeping with the traditional Kuchipudi style. But when it came to the Javali and the Swati Tirunal’s Hindi composition or to Durga tarangam, it looked like three totally unrelated pieces cobbled together to make for a continuous presentation. The invisible link that binds together different pieces in a solo dance was somehow conspicuous by its absence. The balance of fast-paced nritta-oriented pieces offset by totally abhinaya oriented ones was very much in place but the style of dancing varied with each. Amrita’s abhinaya was as captivating as her nritta was encompassing. A distraught nayika in ‘Sakhi pranasakhudu itu jesene’, the dancer was able to bring the soul into her mime as she takes recourse to imagery to uphold the state of her mind as she is taken for a ride by her beloved. A very sensitive handling which would otherwise fall a prey to vulgarity. Amrita adroitly managed to convey the erotic here as elsewhere with graceful body kinetics that just about said what they had to leaving the rest to imagination. A very dicey depiction which she smooth-sailed through.

The Narayana Teertha tarangam which had Durga and not Krishna this time around, was more dramatic and modern adaptation with statuesque stances and action packed.

The combat between the goddess and the demon in quick succession was well choreographed and executed. But the power and strength associated with the Durga aspect of goddess could have brought out more convincingly; it looked rather hurried and the tambalam (plate dance) with which it concluded left much to be desired.

We could hear the percussion, the nattuvangam, the dancer’s anklet bells all sound to the jatis, but the sound of the plate was not audible in the least.

The change of costume after the first two pieces was very welcoming as it has become a rarity these days in a solo presentation. The live orchestra with the compelling Kesavan for nattuvangam, melodious vocalist Sudha Raghuraman, G Raghuraman on the flute and M V Chandrasekhar on the percussion made for a brilliant orchestra. The dance recital was hosted at the India International Centre.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 11:44:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Bringing-alive-the-essence/article14628599.ece

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