Dance of a bygone era

Swarnamalya Ganesh Photo.M. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: M_Moorthy

Every year in August, Chennai on its birthday gets nostalgic, remembering its past, when it was known as Madras. Historical monuments and heritage bungalows come alive with activities being hosted on its premises, proudly recalling the memories of a cherished city of a bygone era. It was, therefore, appropriate that the 250-year-old bungalow of Moddeveerappa Dera Venkataswami Naidu, ancestor of cricketer Buchi Babu, was the venue for Swarnamalya Ganesh’s performance titled ‘Dancing in the Parlour.’

The evening’s programme, focussing on Sadir during the Madras Presidency era, combined music, history and story-telling with the dance of that period, which was based on Swarnamalya’s research. Swarnamalya began her programme with ‘Oh My Lovely Lallana,’ a Kharaharapriya composition, interspersing English and Telugu lyrics. She was able to bring out the nuances of the hero and the courtesan with conviction, and details such as the hand-fan, were incorporated beautifully into the choreography.

The next item was Nottuswaram from the repertoire of the Viralimalai tradition, which was performed to salute the British officers. It was interesting to watch the manner in which she used the simple action of a ‘salute,’ that was used throughout the song (Sankarabaranam) to blend beautifully into her choreography.

Two of her students presented ‘Oorigam Vazhi Kavadi Chindu,’ composed in Parsi mettu, depicting a 19th century train journey of a young couple. Their experience during stopovers at various stations was an interesting theme, which did not quite translate convincingly and aesthetically due to its execution, which was amateurish. ‘God Save the King,’ composed by Pilli Narasimha Rao Naidu, as a literal translation in Sanskrit, was presented as a conclusion to the evening’s proceedings.

The members of the orchestra, Jwalini (vocal), Srinivasan (violin), Kaushik (harmonium), and Parthasarathy (mridangam) too were suitably attired with turbans , to go with the theme.

The production was a mix of theatre and dance - it was incongruous to watch the dancer read out the dialogue, all the time from a paper. She could have had a voice-over and mimed the words, which would have worked out better. Care should have also been taken by the hosts to ensure that, however informal it might have been, people do not walk across the stage behind the dancer during the performance.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 7:46:29 AM |

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