Chip off the old block

K.R. Manasvini. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao  

This was perhaps one of the most eye-catching Bharatanatyam performances in recent times, with sublime music and vibrant rhythm, imaginative choreography and dynamic dance. It also shot young aspirant Manasvini Ramachandran, daughter and disciple of senior dancer Revathi Ramachandran, to the top of the table of Next-Gen dancers.

Manasvini seems to have suddenly emerged from the shadows into the limelight, and how! With an arresting stage presence, clean lines and an intuitive sense of timing, she made a strong statement as a dancer to watch out for at her recital fro Brahma gana SAbha at Smt. Sivagami Pethachi auditorium. Behind the confident exterior lay an endearing vulnerability, which added charm.

The opening Adi tala Nritta Melam and Andal Kavuthuvam, the latter being a traditional piece from Vidwan Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer’s repertoire, established Manasvini’s maturity as a graceful and stylish dancer. Revathi’s sharp intonation of the kavuthuvam lyrics and the subsequent varnam jathi korvais added to the feeling of vigour and energy.

The Neelambari varnam (‘Senthil Mevum Devadeva,’ Adi, Lalgudi Jayaraman) was certainly the pick of the recital. Revathi’s choreography included little details such as the off-beat driven arudi for the first half, the khanda gati korvai using the imagery of the peacock, and a vibrant second half that was filled with symbolism of Muruga on the peacock -- in the arudi and in the lyric -- that the visual was reinforced at every point.

Preethy Mahesh (vocal) and Kalaiarasan (violin) combined to highlight every nuance of the composer’s genius in exploring the soothing raga. During the pallavi, the sanchari required many repetitions and Preethy delivered melody with finesse; Kalaiarasan’s mukthayi swara tattu-mettu section was piercingly sweet. M.S. Sukhi (mridangam) was not untouched by the waves of melody; he danced along with the vocalist and the dancer, with one eye on each. His drumming style mirrored intonations in the music as well as in the dancer’s movements with alacrity.

Manasvini’s response to Sukhi’s tani in between the anupallavi and the charanam when she joined him in the theermanam beats, was obviously an intuitive one. Her talent also came to the fore in the Suddha Nrittam finale that had korvais in singular gatis, with a chatusra gati break in between and ending with multiple combinations. She has obviously inherited her mother’s laya mastery.

Manasvini’s storytelling episodes in the varnam, Muruga’s birth and his encounters with Valli, were clear and involved. Her sringara was subtle and not overdone. There is still some growing up to do, which should happen in time. The dancer also presented an Ambujam Krishna lyric in Dharmavathi raga, Adi tala, ‘Ododi Vanden Kanna’ and a piece on Nataraja’s Ananda Tandava, ‘Thiruneelakantar’ (Behag, Adi) from the Tamil movie of the same name.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 8:19:20 AM |

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