Dance

Mudras of the soul

Thyaga Rahasyam by Roja Kannan.   | Photo Credit: gmail

Hallowed places of worship emanate power and tranquillity from both the deity and the devout. The seeker senses a tangible presence in the air.

This consciousness was put forth by dancer Roja Kannan in ‘Thyaga Rahasyam – The Search of the Blue Lotus.' The solo presentation evoked not only the spirit of Tyagaraja but also recreated the aura of the temple of Tiruvarur of an era gone by.

The ambience of the performing space at Kalakshetra was a live dimension contributing to the performance. Inputs from T.K. Padmanabhan for music and Jayachandran for concept, research and dialogue strengthened the natyam.

While the programme was charted to flow like a story, it also followed the logic of the margam loosely from the early invocation to the tillana. The lyric eulogising Lord Tyagesa were coupled with voice-overs that carried the story forward.

Minimal props

The dance-theatre used the device of duologue in expounding the metaphysical concept. The minimal props such as the gauzy curtain were employed to lend an active voice to the evening.

The combination of familiar numbers such as the pallavi and anupallavi of the Bhairavi varnam ‘Mohamana' with the esoteric Tirumandiram ensured that what was a lofty concept could be understood.

Crisp theermanams rendered by Guru Adyar Lakshman added punch and also helped sustain attention in what was a ‘heavy duty' theme.

Roja Kannan used her rich experience in Bharatanatyam as well as her training in Mohiniyattom to depict the spiritual quest of the heroine Manonmani. Thus the unique sway of the palanquin was given special emphasis by the dancer. The deep body bends and sharp footwork captured the majestic wave like roll of the Lord in the temple procession. The colour and design of the costume also added to the period feel of the production.

The longing of the soul for more than just a tantalising glimpse of the Lord was a strong depiction in another Bhairavi lyric, ‘Mugathai Kaati.'

The dancer's mukha bhava and hastas conveyed not just the partial visage of the deity in the sanctum but also gently questioned the Lord for hiding His glorious form!

‘The Search For the Blue Lotus' was for those with an abiding interest in the art form, be they artists or connoisseurs; it was not an evening of casual entertainment.

Roja Kannan's intense focus on the spiritual meant that other rasas such as hasyam or veeram were precluded from detailed portrayals. Nevertheless, ‘Thyaga Rahasyam' as the single minded plea of the thirsting soul delivered in its missive, communicated the mystique of The Lord of Arur in natyam.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:22:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/Mudras-of-the-soul/article16343123.ece

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