The flow of tradition

In brevity lay the charm of Geeta Chandran’s performance.

December 24, 2015 07:21 pm | Updated 07:21 pm IST

Geeta Chandran Photo A.M. Faruqui.

Geeta Chandran Photo A.M. Faruqui.

In keeping with the years spent in the world of Bharatanatyam, Geeta Chandran presented just two pieces from her vast repertoire; they more than sufficed an entire margam! A lovely exposition, in true sense of the term, of the varnam, a very vital aspect in the format of dance recital. She chose to call her presentation, Antarangam: murmurs of the heart; actually conscience.

The pada varnam in bewitching Bhairavi set to Roopaka taalam was taken up for exposition through dance and what followed was something we would never get to see in the run-of-the-mill repertoire. Unlike varnam in Carnatic music which is an acid test of technical brilliance, yet is taught in the beginning of one’s music learning and acts as a ‘warm up’ in concerts, the same varnam in dance becomes the sine-quo-non of a good dancer. The lengthy piece is usually covered in 15-20 minutes these days; but Geeta Chandran delved into the depth of the varnam in all its intricacies, gently unwrapping the lines of the song, layer after layer, breathing life into the abstract swara (solfa notes), stirring the lyric to emanate more and more meaningful expression with each exposition. The devotional ‘mohamana en mthil ...’ (Tamil) with romantic overtones is a nayika-oriented piece where the heroine (nayika) is overtly in love with none other than God (Shiva).

The artiste is supposed to express the longing (ini ara nimisamu yugamaghade...) in the most subtle of tones without losing out on the surface level meaning either. Geeta’s exposition of such sentiments laced with eroticism, in symbolic abhinaya where the body is brought to picture the agony of a love-lorn maiden conveyed through the charanams of the song was most profound. Creating an ambience that contributed to the romantic mood of the damsel in question, the dancer drew a picture of an empathetic Nature miming densely clouded skies, pecking birds, strutting peacocks and so on. The sanchari bhava enhanced the mood of the song in tri-kalai delineation. Nritta to jatis that interspersed each of the charamans was kept at the optimum. In a word, Geeta defined varnam as poetry in motion where the bhava (emotive element) gets built up slowly and steadily even as it gets expanded with every repetition.

The depiction of Anantasayana (Vishnu in supine position) to Shiva to the lines ‘Vasa Hari ayan ariyada Eesha...’ was a seamless construction. The third jati was well-laid out from the point of nritta. Brisk execution of footwork to swaram complemented the extensive abhinaya. Percussionist MV Chandrasekhar rounded off the varnam with an excellent muktayi.

A Kabir composition, highly esoteric in nature. was the concluding piece. The dancer depicted the 10 sounds (dasha vidha naada) that a spiritual seeker is supposed to hear as the kundalini rises within. Such abstract thought is usually difficult to handle and express through the medium of dance. Geeta, however, made it very explicable through vivid expression and imagery. Kudos to Sudha Raghuraman whose vocal rendition in changing the gati, emoting wherever necessary was admirable. G. Raghuraman on the bamboo and Karaikudi Sivakumar on the nattuvangam made their presence felt.

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