Dance

She gave every phrase its due

Deepa Raghavan. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

The first thing you may notice and the last image that may linger in Deepa Raghavan’s Bharatanatyam programme are her beautiful dancing eyes. While they are undoubtedly nature’s gift, there is also an element of nurture behind them. She is from the Vazhuvoor stable after all, where the eyes are treated as an extension of dancing limbs. Her gurus are: Guru Kanaka Srinivasan, one of the well-known students of Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai, and A. Lakshman, a student of guru K.J. Sarasa. She has also worked with abhinaya expert Bragha Bessel.

Deepa is a graceful, confident, mature dancer whose basics are firmly in place. She creates a pretty picture, but the question is, does she go beyond ‘pretty’ to create an impact? The answer is yes, she is impactful in a quiet way. If her nritta had more energy it may add force to her message, whereas her abhinaya is par excellence.

The navaragamalika, Adi tala varnam, ‘Saamiyai Azhaithodi Vaa’ (K.N. Dhandayuthapani Pillai) showcased the singers’ - Roshini Ganesh and Randhini Aravind - ability to traverse ragas with ease, and the dancer’s impeccable execution. Very early on, you could spot the stillness within the dancer. She gave every phrase its due, with the right amount of involvement to convey the heroine’s yearning.

It was in the subsequent piece, ‘Kopam Ettula’ (javali, Kedaragowla, Rupaka, Thanjavur Chinnaiyya) that the scale went from ‘very good’ to ‘awesome.’ Delineating a heroine whose paramour visits her after having rebuffed her earlier, Deepa was angry, sarcastic and angry again in turns, keeping an unhurried pace as she recounts her anguish to him and asks: how can I not be angry?

This sensitivity is what artistry is all about - the thin line that differentiates a good dancer from an artist.

Kalaiarasan (on the violin), as the lone accompanist, was heard right through the programme - his Vasantha, Deva Manohari, etc stood out, but the Kedaragowla javali rode on his sensitivity. Nellai D. Kannan (mridangam) was attentive throughout, while his Vasantha and Kedaragowla stood out for their involved time-keeping. L. Subhasri Ravi’s (nattuvangam) soft modulation and crisp time-keeping was an asset to the overall soft mood of the performance.



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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 12:48:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/she-gave-every-phrase-its-due/article6912578.ece

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