Dancers Aniruddha Knight, grandson of illustrious dancer T Balasaraswati, and Vidhya Subramanian, trained in the Vazhuvoor style, were in the city to perform on the second day of the first anniversary celebrations of Hema Arangam at CCRT on Friday last. Aniruddha began the evening’s performance by remembering his guru and grandmother. He informed the gathered audience that his dance was not a rehearsed one but one of spontaneity, Manodharma that made Balamma immortal.
The first male dancer in nine generations of one of India’s great artistic families, Aniruddha presented a quick alarippu followed by Kalyani Varnam, Sarasi Jakshudu . This was followed by a rare padam in Ahiri where the heroine talks of how she felt tricked by being kissed by a stranger when she fell asleep in the beautiful mango grove. When you watch Aniruddha perform, it is difficult to take your eyes off him as he has a striking clarity in holding mudras. His adavus have a neat grace. Aniruddha finished his performance with a thevaram in Raag Nilambari dedicated to Lord Muruga.
On the live orchestra, Aniruddha Knight’s father Douglas Knight was on the mridangam, T.R. Murthy on the flute, Usha Shiv Kumar on the vocals, Shivani on the tambura and Nritya Pillai on the nattuvangam.
Performing in the second half of the evening, Vidhya Subramanian, an internationally acclaimed Bharatanatyam exponent, was a perfect embodiment of laya and lavanya. Vidhya began the recital with a dedication to Lord Shiva, Shambhu Natanam , an intensely devotional set of verses by Maharshi Pantanjali. Vidhya picked up a lyric that was inherently rhythmic and suitable to dance like many Shiva strotras. She danced like lightning, moving at a dazzling speed and using the entire stage with enchanting ease. She exhibited a series of varying emotions which are attributable to the lord of dance as peaceful, firm, resilient, and others.
Vidhya then presented a varnam, a composition of Dandayuthapani Pillai, Swamiyai azhaitodiva… in raag Malika, where she describes the passion for her lord in various interesting sancharis. She presented three short Abhinaya padams, the first one being Indendu Vachitivi by Melatur Kasinathayya in Surati Raag set to Misra Chapu Talam.
In the second padam, it was saint Annamacharya’s lullaby, where the dancer reflected mother Yashodha’s affection in putting little Krishna to sleep. She ended her performance with Jai Durge praising the victorious mother Durga, destroyer of all evil.
Vidhya was grace personified at every stage whether she donned the role of the enigmatic Shiva or the fearful Maa Durga. Her nritta was impeccable, with swiftest footwork and kept the spectators tied to their seats. A remembering night was ably supported by Srilatha on the nattuvangam, Nandini Anand on the vocals, Sai Kolanka on violin by and Karthikeyan Ramanathan on the mridangam enhanced the recital. After the splendid performances by Aniruddha Knight and Vidhya Subramanian, both the artists presented a workshop in the fields of their expertise. While Vidhya spoke about the importance of presenting a piece by internalising its essence, Aniruddha gave a deep insight into the Balasaraswati style of presentation, a few techniques on nritta and understanding Manodharma, i.e., spontaneous interpretation of lyrics.