Dance

Recreating the eternal romance

Nirmala Paniker (left) and dancers of Natanakaisiki, Sandra and Parvathy rehearsing for their Mohiniyattam Saptham performance based on Geethagovindam   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement



Poet Jayadeva’s amorous ditties have set many a heart aflutter with their evocative and romantic lyrics. Over a thousand years, in remote villages of India, as well as before august gatherings, the love story of Krishna and Radha has been told and retold. This is no ordinary love story. It transcends the temporal and the corporeal.

Geethagovindam is understood to be an allegorical account of the yearning of the Jeevatma for the Paramatma. All art forms in India revel in the depiction of this well-known tale. Nirmala Paniker and her team at Natanakaisiki, Irinjalakuda, are all set to portray this popular story again, this time in the form of a Mohiniyattam Saptham. This concluding item of a Mohiniyattam recital tells a story and gives a lot of scope to the artistes to innovate.

Nirmala, an erudite researcher, by serendipitous chance, came across a 200-year-old manuscript called ‘Geethagovindam Nrithyalakshanasahitham’ at the Sarbhoji Mahal Library in Thanjavur. This is essentially an acting manual that details the acting style of Geethagovindam. This treatise includes the use of hand gestures sourced from other ancient scripts such as Natyashastra and Natyamanorama.

Based on her research, Nirmala amalgamated the ancient and contemporary techniques to choreograph this Saptham.

The first Ashtapadi of Geethagovindam has been used for this Saptham. The story of the ‘Dasavatharam’ has been portrayed. The Saptham begins with a song appropriate to the background of the Geethagovindam.

Goddess Karthyayini is being worshipped on the banks of the river Kalindi when Nandagopar arrives with the little Krishna. Goddess worship is associated with the worship of Mother Nature who nourishes each creature and leads it to the fulfilment of its existence, that is, Moksha or the divine being. In the recital, Radha’s identity is overlaid with that of Mother Nature.

In the Saptham, the depiction of the Rasaleela is underpinned with the symbolism of the union of the Jeevatma and the Paramatma. All created beings emanate from the One and their intense desire to achieve this essential unity is the basis for the yearning that Radha has for Krishna.

The debut performance of this Saptham will be at Madhava Natya Bhumi (Ammanur Gurukulam, Irinjalakuda) on October 5 at 4 p.m. The Saptham has been choreographed by Nirmala. This venture is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:12:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/recreating-the-eternal-romance/article6441984.ece

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