Brimming with energy

Kuchipudi performance by Amrita Lahiri, in Chennai. Photo: R. Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN;R_RAVINDRAN - R_Ravindran

Kuchipudi with its dance-drama background carries a rustic flavour; there is a certain exaggeration in the mime and in the coy lilt of the dancers’ gait. Each dancer then adds her own sense of aesthetics to the make it her own. For Amrita Lahiri, it is her sprightliness. It looked as if she had a spring beneath her feet as almost every movement was turned into an airborne one. It is however not just the energy, flexibility and grace, but her total absorption that was impressive.

She has trained under many stalwarts such as Gurus Anuradha Nehru, Swapna Sundari, Seetha Nagajothy and Jaikishore Mosalikanti. She has also learnt Bharatanatyam under Leela Samson. Amrita’s repertoire was an eclectic collection of choreographies by various gurus.

The Natesha Kavuthuvam invocation (Hamsadhwani, adi, dance composition by Vempati Chinna Satyam) picturing the Siva Tandava gave Amrita an opportunity to revel in her liveliness. Such was her fitness that the high leg lifts and the jumps did not leave her panting. Bharatanatyam dancer Adit Narayan (nattuvangam) proved his versatility yet again as he guided Amrita by singing the sollus and reciting the poetry.

Amrita’s physicality is her strong point. She is expressive but needs to hold her expressions longer. The excerpt from Usha Parinayam, ‘Vedaley banuni varasuta’ (Ragamalika, adi, dance composition by Swapna Sundari) was preceded by a pravesha daru that was executed with appropriate vibrancy. Her detailing of the dream and her blushing at the memory carried conviction as the innocent princess, but one wishes she would slow down the pace and deepen the emotions.

It was surprising to see a Bharatanatyam- style javali (‘Sakhi Prana,’ Chenchuruti, adi, dance composition by Leela Samson) in the recital. Agreed that padams and javalis are part of the Kuchipudi repertoire, but a Kuchipudi-style narration would have incorporated rhythmic footwork and more kulukku or sauciness in the mime. As an aside, the imaginative delineation used similes for the heroine’s betrayal such as him snatching her heart from her and later, the bee flying away from the flower. The heroine snuffs out the lamp and silently watches the smoke spiralling into nothingness in the end, providing powerful imagery.

The finale, the Durga tarangam (Ragamalika, adi, dance composed by Jaikishore Mosalikanti) was a departure from the traditional Krishna Leela Tarangini songs. It was visually action-packed and well- executed, with jathis, the fight between Devi and the demon Mahisha and ending with the rhythmic footwork on the brass plate.

The music here and in the Usha Parinayam piece was especially good, though the overall standard remained high. Srikanth Gopalakrishnan (vocal) was supported by Easwar Ramakrishnan (violin), B. Muthukumar (flute) and B.P. Haribabu (mridangam). This is a dancer to look out for.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 10:03:05 AM |

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