Dance

Art of poetic movements

Vinitha Nedungadi  

Mohiniyattam dancer Vinitha Nedungadi has been noted for her attempts to enrich the repertoire of Mohiniyattam. While Edassery’s ‘Poothapattu’, Kavalam’s ‘Karu kare karmukil’ and G. Sankara Kurup’s translation of Tagore’s Gitanjali have won rave reviews from every corner, Sree Narayana Guru’s ‘Kaalinatakam’ and Uthukkad Venkata Kavi’s bewitching thillana in Revathy have been the latest. Incidentally, the thillana, familiar in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music concerts, was perhaps a first attempt on a Mohiniyattam stage. That she chose to present the Guru’s composition in connection with the centenary celebrations of the Guru’s historic declaration, ‘Namukku Jaathiyilla’, was apt.

Vinitha opened with ‘Ananda Narthana Ganapathy’ in Kedaram, an invocation to Ganapathy. Her portrayal of Ganapathy dancing in happiness and the depiction of his gait were interesting to watch. The customary cholkettu composed in Todi and set to Adi tala, followed. Different adavus performed to rhythmic perfection of the vaytharis and intermittent poses made the piece graceful.

The next number ‘Kaalinatakam’ was the highlight of the recital. Guru’s lengthy composition is an exposition of the Mother Goddess concept that is peculiar to Kerala. Described as the cosmic dancer, she creates the entire universe by opening her powerful eyes and destroys the same as she closes them. The formidable character is surprisingly the allegory of freedom at the same time and full of ‘Ananda’.

Select excerpts from the composition, most suitable both for the dance form and that depicted the Goddess’ intrinsic features and exploits, were included in the presentation. The opening lines of invocation, ‘Namo naada bindwathmike, naasaheene….’ were enough to create an ambience of devotion that the dancer could evoke with her entry. Vinitha’s delineation of the exquisite features of the Goddess revealed her histrionic prowess. The Goddess’ animated dance accompanied by orchestral symphony of tambourine, bells, flue and veena provided enough scope for elaboration. The interpretation of the lines was sandwiched with enchanting jathis.

What enhanced the piece was the raga Revathy. Described as a ‘Rakthi raga’, its potential to bring in an air of devotion is incomparable. Also by picking khanta nata (adi) for rhythm, Vinitha could evoke the vibrant mood that the composition demanded. Fifteen minutes for the number appeared too short for the rasikas to enjoy it fully and one wished Vinitha had attempted to choreograph and perform more verses from the composition.

It was enticing to watch Swati padam ‘Panimathimukhi bale’ in Aahiri, Misra Chapu. The antics of ‘virahot khantia’ nayika received a commendable portrayal by the dancer.

‘Kalinga narthana thillana’ has legendary significance as the idol at Kalinga Narthana Perumal Temple at Uthukkad, the birth place of the Bhaktha poet Uthukkad Venkata Kavi, is very much a portrayal of the leitmotif of Kaliya mardana.

The poet has a unique style of intertwining sahithya and complex rhythmic flourishes including gati-bhedams so as to narrate the dance of Krishna atop Kaliya’s hood. Further, one gets a picturesque narration of child Krishna’s movements, describing his ornaments, footsteps, his playing of the flute and so on. She wound up with a flawless thillana.

The recital was organised by Public Relations Department and assisted by Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 6:14:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/Art-of-poetic-movements/article16091682.ece

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