Dance

Inheritors of tradition

Kuchipudi recital by Prateeksha Kashi at Soorya’s Parampara festival Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri  

Soorya’s annual ‘Parampara’ dance festival features performances by senior disciples of renowned gurus, who are expected to take their respective guru’s lineage ahead. With Bharatanatyam (six dancers), Kuchipudi, Odissi and a Kathakali-Bharatanatyam fusion, the festival had a lot of variety, this year.

Kuchipudi

Prateeksha Kashi’s recital covered different aspects of the dance form, with a stuti, a tarangam, a daravu and so on. Prateeksha, known for her spontaneity and liveliness on stage, was not quite herself as she commenced the recital. But she came into form during the recital. The picks of the lot were the two items presented towards the end - one depicting goddess Maheshwari taking the form of Durga to slay the demon Mahishasura and the other, saluting the bravery of Indian soldiers guarding the borders. The flawless presentation of valour and rage that transforms into a smile as the stuti ‘Aigiri Nandini…’ set in kept the audience engaged in ‘Maheswari.’ The dancer’s keenness to connect with the realities of the present world was the highlight of the final piece.

Sai Krishna Sannidha too did not have that delightful an opening with ‘Pranavakaram...’ and Annamacharya’s composition praising goddess Alamelu. However, she did well in ‘Nandagopalakrishna...,’ an episode from Narayana Theertha’s ‘Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini.’ Sannidha showcased her histrionic skills as she presented the episode in which Krishna steals the clothes of the gopis. Sannidha concluded her recital with ‘Rara Na Sami...,’ a Kshetrayya padam.

Odissi

Abhayalakshmi instantly caught the attention of the audience, with her elegant moves, postures and expressions. She opened with the mangalacharan in praise of goddess Lakshmi, followed by a pallavi in raga Ahir Bhairav. She was able to keep her energy levels consistently high. Radha waits for long and her pain turns into anger in the Jayadeva ashtapadi ‘Yahi Madhava, Yahi Keshava....’. Abhayalakshmi presented it in an all-absorbing manner. She continued with another abhinaya piece based on the Odia song ‘Aahe Nila Shaila...,’ by Salabega, in praise of Lord Jagannatha.

Bharatanatyam

Sreelatha Vinod and Athena Madhu shared a poised approach to their dance. Their on-stage chemistry worked best for the central piece, a ragamalika composition of Periyasami Thooran. The ninda stuti, presented as a conversation between two, with Athena taking the role of the heroine and Sreelatha that of the friend, saw the dancers doing justice to their respective roles. The ‘Ranjanimala’ composition with four Ranjani ragas woven together, focussed more on the dance aspects and the duo made it impressive with some interesting choreography. In addition, the two also did a solo each and performed together an invocatory opening piece and a thillana, marking the end.

Lavanya Ananth may not be the most agile dancer around, but she makes up generously for it with her involvement and abhinaya. The heroine reminds the hero, the presiding deity of Melattur, about his true stature and wonders how he has fallen for the tricks of the other woman. This was the context for the Huseni swarajati by Melattur Venkatarama Sastry. The piece had instances showing the heroine in different moods and Lavanya portrayed her with efficacy. She continued with ‘Enna Thavam...’ and then a javali in raga Paras. Both being abhinaya pieces, she made it even more captivating with some elaborate narratives. Lavanya performed a kautuvam and ended her rectial with a thillana.

Vidhya Subramanian’s choice of items were appreciable but it seemed like the day wasn’t agreeing with the dancer.

Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya made the best use of a recorded track and came up with a thematic presentation ‘Aprameya Padmanabha,’extolling the virtues of Padmanabha. She mixed and matched some familiar compositions and, with some pensive dance and abhinaya sequences that blended well with the music, she managed to create an impression. The first episode, a mallari to start with, had dance phrases displaying a procession. She moved swiftly to Swati Tirunal’s ‘Kanakamayeedum...,’ introducing the deity. The second episode also followed the same pattern, but this time with even more compositions, a lot of short narratives and dance patterns, in between, to bind them together. The final ‘Chakra Alarippu’ segment, the shortest of the three, proved the most exciting one with some intriguing music, which allowed the dancer to end the presentation on a high note.

Janaki Rangarajan is an innovative dancer who looks constantly for improvisations by incorporating new moves and novel ways to manoeuvre them. The Thodi varnam ‘Mohalahiri Konden Swamy...’ by Sivanandam of Tanjore quartet, had a sanguine heroine in love with the deity Mannargudi Rajagopalaswamy. Janaki made the latter portion of the piece all the more absorbing with meticulous abhinaya and some skilfully executed dance phrases, all in harmony. In ‘Kunthihridayam’ that followed, the dancer focussed on the little-explained side of Kunthi, and presented the character in a different light. A thillana in Hamsanandi, appended with an abhang by Sant Eknath, saw Janaki once again cutting loose, ending the recital in style.

Shweta Prachande opened with a virutham in praise of Shanmukha and an alarippu. It was short but sensible. The heroine, in love with Lord Brihadeeswara, being the premise for ‘Sami Nee Rammanave…’ (Khamas / Adi), Shweta was up to the task of presenting the mesmerised nayika troubled by Cupid. In the padam ‘Indendu Vachitivira…,’ a nayika shows her lover the door for not being truthful and in the javali that followed, ‘Sarasamulade Enduku...,’ she featured a nayika in an amorous mood. Shweta came good in presenting these contrasting heroines with clarity and concluded with a Balamuralikrishna thillana in raga Behag.

Krishnamayam

Paris Laxmi and Pallippuram Sunil brought together Bharatanatyam and Kathakali in their duet ‘Krishnamayam.’ The two, well supported by an elaborate music and percussion ensemble, did a fine job without making the fusion look amateurish. They had a straightforward approach, with Sunil presenting Krishna in Kathakali attire and Laxmi taking up roles of Radha, Kuchela, Panchali, Gopis and Arjuna in Bharatanatyam, during different episodes. The entire presentation was much closer to Kathakali with elements of Bharatanatyam infused into it. Thus, Sunil hardly had to do any adjustments with his dance. Laxmi had to go overboard with her Bharatanatyam to make it fit into the framework and she made a genuine attempt for it.

Although ‘Parampara’ has gained the stature of a major festival, the stage setting and light arrangements couldn’t live up to the standards, somewhat abating the experience.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 5:58:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/Inheritors-of-tradition/article16644554.ece

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