Friday Review

Expressions that say it all...

EMOTING TO LYRICS Jyotsna Jagannathan  

It has always been the inheritor that made the predecessor immortal. The Uttaradhikar festival of classical arts is precisely devoted to presenting the next-in-line, a parampara (legacy) handed down by the guru to his shishya (pupil) who in turn would pass on the mantle to his disciple. A very enriching practice in today’s art scenario to draw the younger generation to our classical performing arts.

As part of this series, Jyotsna Jagannathan, pupil of Malavika Sarukkai, presented a solo Bharatanatyam recital. Since it was the legacy that had to be reflected, the danseuse chose the ‘margam’ (formatted repertoire). The beauty lay in also adhering to the customary raga from the Carnatic music concert where the general tenet is to begin (adi) with raga Naata and end (antha) with Surati. And it had to begin with Mallari performed in ancient temple dance ritual. Everything was in order as it should be by the text of dance – the linear movements, the arai mandai, the jati (mnemonic) patterns and the very crucial aspect of abhinaya. The mallari now performed on stage to a modern audience usually depicts the processional deity’s (of the temple) entry in full regalia into the four streets adjacent to the temple for the common man. The dancer depicted the paraphernalia that pilots the holy palanquin carrying the deity as it arrives out of the sanctum. The musicians, dancers, priests, palanquin bearers alternately came to life through the picturesque illustration by Jyotsna as she danced to the Mallari in Gambheera Naata raga.

Varnam, the acid test for the margam artiste, was in Charukesi (Lalgudi composition). The long drawn (also a stamina-challenger ) piece was showcased with the usual combination of mnemonic expertise and expressive interpretation to the lines of the song where the refrain keeps repeating expecting the dancer to draw vivid and varied imagery. To most part, the artiste’s gestures were repetitive like for instance at the ‘maryaada’ refrain and at ‘isai ponga’ during the course of the dance, reflected the limitations of her virtuosity. Similarly, the kulukku nadai, a usually beautiful intermix (graceful walk) with jatis fell short of appreciation as she paced it way too fast like a rapid fire exercise in footwork. The teermanam (rounding off) was way too ordinary.

There were a few flashes of brilliance too which deserve mention; and these were the sanchari to the third verse which was noticeably artistic.

Despite a brisk execution, Jyotsna’s forte seemed her mukhabhinaya (facial expression). She could emote well to the lyric at all times relating to the mood and feeling of the character in the song and that lifted the performance to a large extent. The padam in Kamas is an instance where she ends the dance with a wistful expression! Poochi’s Sankarabharanam tillana was impressive especially as she froze into postures which were aesthetic. But for these postures, there wasn’t much in Jyotsna’s dance that was reflective of her guru. Her guru is a picture perfect in her nritta and stances while the disciple was surprisingly more malleable in abhinaya. The recital under the aegis of Raza Foundation was held at India Habitat Centre.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 5:45:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Expressions-that-say-it-all.../article16091760.ece

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