The term, ‘living tradition,’ is often used to describe the intrinsic spirit of our classical arts. One saw it in the serene Bharatanatyam presented by Jayanthi Subhramaniam at the Narada Gana Sabha .
A respected teacher and seasoned artist, her recital stressed on the limitless possibilities of creativity within the grammar of the art than on overt displays of showmanship. This was a performance where the rasikas savoured the different dimensions of the art and not just the rudiments.
There were no dazzling displays or tactics to take one’s breath away. Instead, the mellow approach reflected the lustre that comes from years of hard work in performing and teaching. Rather than calisthenics in nritta, what Jayanthi offered was proficiency of rhythm together with sophistication in expression.
The substantial portion of the afternoon concert was the exposition of the ragamaalika varnam, ‘Sami Ninne Kori’ whose content of challenging jatis and graceful abhinaya mingled with love and devotion.
There were several shades to the heroine’s personality that Jayanthi presented with lucidity. While the nayika’s awe and profound adoration of Lord Siva could be seen in the pallavi and anupallavi, the lady’s feeling of familiarity in love unfolded for other ragas such as Kalyani and Vasanta delightfully. The rhythmic conformity of sound and dance was a heartening feature.
Shajilal’s steady nattuvangam, Nellai Kannan’s mridangam play, Radha Badri’s empathetic singing and sensitive violin play by Kalaiarasan enhanced the recital. The theermanams composed by Guru Adyar. K. Lakshman were compelling in rhythmic pace, so much so that the tha- thadingana - thoms reminded one of the maestro’s authoritative tones of enunciating syllables. The dual notes of bhakti and sringara were highlighted through the sanchari bhava performed only to piquant violin music.
Prior to the varnam, Jayanthi began with the Pushpanjali in Amritavarshini and slokas dedicated to Devi from the Shyamala Dandakam, which though melodious was rather prolonged for an introductory piece.
A clear-cut reading, which neither covered up nor exaggerated graphic details, was the strongpoint in the devolvement of sringara in the subsequent lyrics. If ‘Valapu Daaca’ in Varali was a picture of overwhelming love, ‘Samayamide Kadura’ in Mayamalavagowla brought in different facets of loyalty.
As an optimistic depiction of the Varali raga padam, Jayanthi portrayed a nayika who is unable to hide her love for Krishna. The principal thread of the sthayi bhava was in place, as Jayanthi traversed the gamut of the Kshetrayya song.
In the next item, a surface look would brand the heroine of ‘Samayamide Kadura’ as one stepping outside the marital ties. But in this performance there was a woman who stood by one bond out of duty and another out of genuine love. Both pathways had the same sincerity of action. Thillanna in Thilang came across as a light affair, a lot of decorative poses with sahitya dedicated to Lord Muruga.