Dance

A blaze of energy

Rama Vaidyanathan performing a bharatanatyam dance at the Music Academy in Chennai on January 7, 2016. Photo: M. Vedhan   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN



Looks like well-known Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan has hit upon the right formula this season. Every aspect of her performance — music, nritta, expressions and the repertoire were enjoyable.

For Rama the focus was on the macro effect and not the little nuances or gestures. She opened with, ‘Manikya veena’ a sloka on goddess Saraswathi tuned in Kharaharapriya and Varali ragas. In a beautiful transition to Neelambari, she burst into movement in ‘Sringara Lahari’ (Lingaraj Urs), a composition in praise of goddess Parvathi. This is usually handled with delicacy, but there was none of that in Rama’s version. It became a piece of assertive dominance in a crisp choreography, beautiful swara passages and rigorous movements, closing with some friezes of the goddess. You may not get word by word description of the goddess, but you will get the idea. This is Rama’s philosophy.

Rama has always been inclined to fireworks in her nritta, but now she is in such great shape, she flies across the vast, stage space. There seemed to be a formula in the composition of jathis; they accommodated covering-the-stage steps, jumps and grounded steps, in perhaps equal proportions. She saw to it that the slower counts corresponded to the bigger movements, and as the counts got faster, the movements got smaller. The contrast between big and small was as dramatic as her energy. The formula might have looked repetitive but it was stylish and her nritta so well-finished.

The dancer had a different take on Thanjavur Brihadeeshwara in the Khamas varnam, ‘Samini rammanave’ (adi, Ponniah Pillai). As a devotee in love with the deity, she is both mesmerised with passion and awed with devotion; her engagement with the gigantic Siva Linga saw her running to the idol filled with passion, which turned to awe and surrender as she went closer.

The nayika tries to make her friend heed her words in the charana line, ‘Raave..’ She calls her sweetly, promising her earrings et al, the sweetness turns to impatience and finally desperation when she begs her to come and listen. The gradual change of tone was interesting.

Rama’s portrayals came alive with vivid imagery. The thumri ‘Radhika kanha ko’ (lyrics by medieval poet Dev, tuned by flautist Rajat Prasanna) portrayed Radha’s immersion in Krishna, when identities get blurred and she begins to think of herself as Krishna. She comes back to reality and realises the futility of identity, when Krishna is a part of her and she, a part of him. Rama’s Radha was animated as she struggled with her identity before realisation dawns.

The music formed a big part of Rama’s success: S Vasudevan (nattuvangam), K. Venkateshwaran (vocal), Sumod Sridhar (mridangam), Viju Anand (violin) and Rajat (flute) were with her every step of the way.

Rama ended in a blaze of energy with a Shirdi Kakkad arathi song, ‘Utha Panduranga’ (Sant Janabai). The bhajana beats stayed with us long after.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 9:50:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/A-blaze-of-energy/article14012087.ece

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