Putting the dance before self

Watching so much of the geometry of the dance form accentuated by lithe movements of young dancers, it was a different experience to see the performance of a senior artist where the technique was subsumed in the dance statement.

Dedicated to the memory of her late guru Adyar K. Lakshman, Roja Kannan’s presentation under the aegis of Brahma Gana Sabha was an example of a dancer’s individual persona never over-riding the performance.

Even in the invocation based on Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer’s Gambhira Nattai composition ‘Ananda nartana Ganapatim’, the leisurely nritta as well as sahitya interpretation with variations woven in, was tonally different from the usual rendition.

The Telugu varnam in Sankarabharanam (that she recently learnt from guru Kalyanasundaram) portraying the swadheenapatika nayika, secular in addressing the King (unlike the Tamil version which in its devotional accent has Rajagopalaswami of Mannargudi as the nayika’s object of love) met with savoured treatment. The very first line ‘Saamikki sari evvare’ expressing how nobody could equal her lord, for they dwarfed in comparison to the achievements of the great Bhoopala whose praises were sung all over, brought to the fore Roja’s interpretative clarity, being trained under Kalanidhi Narayanan.

Radha Badri’s singing — without taking away from the contours of the varnam as set by the composer, while weaving in the variations — enabled the musical word, the dancer’s symbolic gestures and mukhabhinaya to accent the artistic statement in unison. Apart from the imaginatively devised narrative moments of the nayika running after a ball, accidentally coming face-to-face with the lord, and the pining loneliness in separation (‘sakhiye ee viraha orvanay’) , were the interspersed jatis — full of punch in their short and neat rhythm and ‘sollu’ arrangements.

The Kshetrayya padam in Sahana, ‘Choodare adinadacee hoyalu sudati seeyu jaadalu…’ visualised the gossipy exchanges between two jealous women, regarding the parakiya abhisarika on her way to meet her beloved.

“Look at her gait and though married into a respectable family, with a palanquin to take her from place to place, she is off to meet her Rajagopala.” The feelings of the two and how they get back to drawing the kolam in front of their house after expressing their disgust was wonderfully communicated.

The javali in Behag, ‘Saramaina matalentu,’ with the jilted khandita sarcastically telling off her erring lover, the great Padmanabha reclined on the coiled serpent couch, that she has had enough of his tall promises, was again presented evocatively. Lalgudi Jayaraman’s thillana in Tilang with a salutation to Muruga, was the finale. The dancer was well-served by Paroor M.S. Anantshree (nattuvangam), Nellai D. Kannan (mridangam) and Kalaiarasan (violin).

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 11:45:01 PM |

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