Classic moves

Revathy Suresh Kumar's Bharatanatyam recital at Chilanka Dance Festival.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The Chilanka Dance Festival, providing a platform for a young generation of classical dancers, made its debut in Thiruvananthapuram. Organised by the Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, the festival featured promising talents in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi and Kathak.


Each of the six short performances represented distinctive styles and different schools in Bharatanatyam. Arun Sankar, the sole male dancer, represented the Kalakshetra bani with flawless precision. Starting off with a Ganesh vandana, he chose verses from Narada Pancharatna to present the varnam ‘Sri Krishna Kamalanatho’ in Reethigowla ragam. The phrase ‘Vasudevathmaja’ was delineated, depicting Vasudeva carrying away the baby Krishna from Kamsa’s prison to Vrindavan. Elaborate jathis executed with exuberance intermingled with the passages.

Revathy Suresh Kumar, a disciple of Dr. Padma Subramaniam presented the style propagated by her guru. Her central piece, the varnam ‘Kaa vaa Venkataramana’ written by Padma Subramaniam, was dedicated to religious harmony. Shreyasi Gopinath’s recital featured the varnam ‘Devar munivar thozhum padam’ composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman. Choreographed by the dancer herself, it was a deviation from the nayika-based ones.

The Mysore school of Bharatanatyam was demonstrated by Ranjitha Vivin from Bengaluru and she managed to do a full margam in the short span of time. In this style, the accent is on abhinaya and poetic content of the compositions. A jaavali in Behag was interspersed with jaru adavus, again characteristic of the school.

The Bharatanatyam duet by the Nair sisters – Veena and Dhanya – ticked all the right boxes. Skilled choreography kept the space for individual improvisations, while creating synchronised movements that were aesthetic. Their varnam ‘Anname aruginil vaa’ had jathis composed by mridangam vidwan Gurumurthy and included dramatic narratives. Elaborate sancharis marked the Swati composition ‘Gopalaka pahimam’ and Kaliyamardanam and Gajendra Moksham were presented through suggestive movements and mudras in the jathis that occur as a refrain in the composition.

Very appealing in terms of content and presentation was Sneha Devanandan’s performance. Mature and involved abhinaya, neat lines and perfect stances were the hallmarks.

‘Adi Sivane kanave’, the varnam, focussed on the ardhanareeswara aspect of Lord Siva, signifying totality and Sneha ended the piece with a display of some of the karanas. The Neeli padam ‘Yarukkum vazhangatha Neeli’ was a power-packed piece exhibiting the primordial energy.


A Mohiniyattam duet by Sandra Pisharody and Parvathy Sreevallabhan reflected the research done by their guru Nirmala Paniker.

The varnam ‘Geetayodhiya Govindan’, written and choreographed by Nirmala, had ample scope for abhinaya and pure dance. A detailed depiction of the Geethopadesham in the first part was followed by quick and sequential presentations of the Dashavataram in the charanam.

Denoting the folk element of Mohiniyattam was the item ‘Chandanam’ in which the Kurathi speaks of the miraculous qualities of the sandalwood paste (chandanam) that she carries. Items that were part of the ancient repertoire are now being revived by Nirmala Paniker and Chandanam is one such.

The centre piece of Maya Vinayan’s recital was the varnam ‘Gurupavanapurikkazhakayi’ in Saramathi raga. It focussed on the story of Manjula, a devotee of Lord Guruvayurappan. Soft footwork and sober abhinaya enhanced the mood of devotion that was the theme of the piece. The popular Tulasidas bhajan ‘Thumak chalat Ramchandra’, an unusual choice for Mohiniyattam, was handled with ease by Maya.

Kuchipudi, Kathak

Swathy Narayan chose to present the Pravesha Daruvu from Bhamakalapam as the main piece of her Kuchipudi recital. The soft Annamacharya kriti ‘Ra ra chinnanna’ was followed by the vigorous ‘Maheswari, mahakali’, depicting the fierce form of the Devi. Endowed with the lakshanas of a good dancer, Swathy could do well to capitalise on them and focus on internalisation as well.

A Kathak duet by Vidyagauri Adkar and Mujaffar Mullah, representing the Jaipur gharana, exhibited grace, speed and synchronisation. Vidyagauri evoked moods of sringara, hasya and vatsalya when she danced to the Surdas pad ‘Jhanak Shyam ki painjaniya’, describing the faltering baby steps of Krishna and Yasoda’s delight on seeing it. On the whole, the recital created a kaleidoscopic effect on stage.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 4:19:02 PM |

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