In the spotlight

Bharatanatyam dancer Apoorva Jayaraman may call herself a student, and while she is a student of eminent dancer Priyadarsini Govind, and has trained under Ratna Supriya Sridharan and Padmini Ravi in Bangalore, she is far more than a student. She has a kind of maturity and confidence that goes beyond skill to a deep engagement with the art. She has a good sense of rhythm, her abhinaya is natural and her style is sprightly, and put together, she epitomises the joy of dance.

Apoorva opened her recital at the Music Academy with an antique gem from the Mysore court, ‘Purva Ranga Vidhi’ (Hamsadhwani, adi), learnt from Bhanumathi. Part-chatusra Alarippu, part-jathis, part-Ganesha kauthuvam and part-homage to the king, this composition is unique. It started with an unusual attami in a full-mandi position with hands in katakaamukha in front of the chest with elbows bent. Nattadavu variations, lots of stamps, few kudichi mettu adavus and thadinginathoms finishing on the side — simple and economical steps that painted a pretty picture. In between the jathis the dancer comes to the front and does a salaam as a finishing movement.

With the support of a great team of musicians led by K. S. Balakrishnan (nattuvangam), Arun Gopinath (vocal), Sakthivel Muruganandham (mridangam) and N. Sigamani (violin), the dancer navigated the repertoire easily. She is a thinking dancer, and though there is some resemblance to her guru Priyadarsini’s style, she is not a clone, as can happen with dancers whose gurus are performers.

The daru varnam, ‘Mathe’ (Khamas, adi, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar), is an ode to goddess Meenakshi. Apoorva was equal to the challenge of Priyadarsini’s jathis — pauses and usi or offbeats in rhythm, razor sharp finishes with challenging friezes and unusual steps including a full sit on her haunches. Her araimandi can however be improved upon. The beauty of devi and the admiration for her came through in the charanam, in which one facet of her beauty was described in every repetition of the charanam sahitya.

While the varnam may not have been challenging in terms of Apoorva’s expressional prowess, the Ninda Stuthi (‘Ethuku ittanai modi,’ Surati, rupaka, Marimutha Pillai) and the Purandaradasa keerthana, ‘Jagadodarana’ (Karnataka Kapi, adi) brought out the dancer’s maturity and subtlety. In the former composition, the poet takes the form of a nayika and asks Siva why he was angry with her. She lists his leelas, interpreting each as an embarrassing secret. Apoorva was a natural in this complicated situation.

The sthayi bhava or the overriding sentiment was most crucial in ‘Jagadodarana’ in which the poet is an awestruck bystander watching how Yashoda treats Krishna, the lord of the universe, as a mere child. The visualisation alternated between showing Yashoda and Krishna as a normal mother and mischievous child and the commentator looking on in awe at the situation. It called for some dexterity to switch between the short clips and showcased the dancer’s abundant ability.

If Apoorva is not yet known, we must correct it. She is not a dancer waiting in the wings; she has the spotlight on her already.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 6:28:58 AM |

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