Of poise and polished stances

Alarmel Valli. Photo: R. Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN

Alarmel Valli's performance was a peerless symmetry of rhythm, emotion and artistic consciousness that has led her to the zenith of the Bharatanatyam arena. The sheen of her superb natyam reached out to envelop rasikas within its folds warmly. It was a recital marked by wisdom that looked further than the nayika-nayaka bhava to present dimensions such as splendour, devotion and detachment in the larger context of existence.

Valli's performing form manifested dually: external presentation and her inner artistry which accounted for the tone of excellence established from the very beginning of the recital. Well-known musician Rajkumar Bharati's harmonious tunes empowered the dancing as well as the orchestral team to contribute its inspired best for the evening. The efforts of C. K. Vasudevan, Nandini Anand, Shaktivel Muruganadam, Raghuraman, Subhramaniam and Eashwar who made up the motivated crew of musicians, highlighted the dancing with acumen.

Throbbing hastas conveyed the fiery Viswaroopam envisioned by Arjuna for Nattai even as a change in the nadai emphasised the drama in the story from Krishna's childhood for the Kalinga nartanam. Verses from the Bhagavad Gita, Narayaneeyam and Madhurashatakam conveyed the different aspects of radiance of Krishna in ragas such as like Mohana Kalyani, Kharaharapriya and Rasikapriya. The divergent yet unifying nature of the Omniscient was presented in swift illustrations. The aharya of the dancer principally the light green costume enhanced the evening's atmosphere.


‘Sami Ninne Kori', the ragamalika varnam, was presented in a compact version where bhakti was layered over sringara dexterously as in the rendering of a nayika captivated by Lord Brhadeeswara. Valli's eloquence in dance extended not just to her abhinaya but also her nritta. In line with this thinking, the intricate theermanams for the varnam were not adavus alone but could be called repartees where the artist used movement and banter in rhythm to enthral the full auditorium of art lovers.

The image of the nayika offering worship for the sahitya, ‘Prema Meeraga' and smoothly leading to ‘Bhirana Nannu' could be called craftsmanship at its best. Ragas Thodi, Sankarabharanam, Bhairavi and Pantuvarali made for a seamless interpretation of the awe-struck nayika.

Valli's abhinaya representing a mother's angst, a daughter's secret love and some wise words of counsel were stirring pictures. There was no rush, no electrifying gimmicks but polished body stances, lift of the eyebrows that were employed with restraint for the characterisation of the anxious mother, the sages and their advice on objectivity to her.

Tuned by Prema Ramamurthy, the haunting notes of Jayantasena added to Ameerkalyani and Manirangu for the verses from Sangam poetry. A thillana in Kanada and Adi by the Thanjavur Quartet reaffirmed the dancer's outlook on tradition with succinct moves.

Lakshmi Gopalaswamy's performance adhered to the classical grammar, where airy nritta and intuitive abhinaya formed the fabric of her dancing. Known for her remarkable emoting skills on the silver screen, a dignity in portrayals formed the mainstay of the traditional margam.

The lyric in the programme and the interpretations, identified Lakshmi's synergy in dance to be a sequence of charming moves that included muted punctuations of footwork with detailed flow of bhava.

Lakshmi laid the ground for in-depth communication beginning with the eulogy of Devi, briefly through the kautuvam and then through the Dikshitar kriti as an uninterrupted description.

The Abhaya hasta of the Devi and the depiction of the devotee begging for redemption were friezes that were aesthetically pleasing besides relating profound concepts.

Flow of bhava

The sketches of fury while destroying evil forces were contrasted with those depicting compassion for the seekers without going overboard.

Other specifics that worked their enchantment were efficient lighting, the dancer's exceptional attire and glittering accessories, all of which helped take the performance to another level altogether.

Rhythm and feeling were double offerings through K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai‘s ‘Bhairavi' varnam in Bhairavi. The gentle tempo articulated by Kiran Subhramaniam corresponded with the artist's low-keyed moves in pure dance.

Murali Parthasarathy's husky voice lent itself to the dancing satisfactorily. The verbalising of Muruga's names in the interval between theermanams as sollu was a smart move that accentuated the theme.

The close calls concerning coordination between the orchestra and the dancer in a few endings could have been avoided to guarantee a tidier outcome.

While Lakshmi's rhythmical essays were easy on the eyes it was her abhinaya delineations that carried an intellectual liveliness.

The narration of Muruga's birth and the account of ‘Arumugam,' though presented quickly, carried conviction. The flashes where Lakshmi demonstrated the episodes where Muruga bested his father, imprisoned Brahma and quelled the asuras formed arresting visuals.

Another tale that was effectively communicated with pithy gestures was the granting of artistic revelation to Saint Arunagirinathar.

Lakshmi's performing captured the delicacy in the next lyric a padam in Mohanam with a precise touch of emotion. The peculiar dilemma of a young girl, her confidences about Krishna's behaviour for this piece - better known as ‘Padakinti' and her resignation were all done to a hassle-free speed that enabled the dancer to convey the timid girl's mixed feelings for Krishna. The reluctance of the heroine was emphasised further by the slow exit of the dancer.

A thillana in Khamas by Lalgudi Jayaraman was a bubbly rendering in dance.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 4:52:23 AM |

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