Setting her foot on Indian soil very recently, NRI Vidya Subramanian has already established as an artiste of calibre. Among the present day active performers Vidya is sure to give others in the field a run for their art. And this is no exaggeration. She has a perfect sense of laya and lavanya (rhythm and grace) her nritta is impeccable as it is flowing; in the swiftest of footwork, she manifests a fluidity that keeps us glued to the stage. The stances are chiselled to perfection, the sanchari bhava is poetry in motion. If this sums up Vidya’s pure dance aspects; well her abhinaya is like the jewel in the crown. It left the very artistic, emotional audiences of Odissi dance spectrum enthralled and fascinated by its sheer sensation of being.
Vidya made South Indians proud when she handled the Ashtapadi, Yehi Madhava... to its native viewers through an unparalleled mukhabhinaya (facial expression). The unshed tears of hurt, deceit, crushed love were glistening in her eyes as she dons the role of Radha, a Kanditha nayika.The entire song is about a guilty Krishna’s denials and Radha’s rising rage at his false defence. This piece was the highlight of the evening as Vidya literally lived in the role of Radha while not losing control of her artistic obligation. It left us totally moved and melting at the heart. The rasa, the end of true artistic performance, got churned and created at the end of the evening. The joy of having experienced something beautiful remained for a long time.
Vidya did the margam with the customary Pushpanjali followed by Shambu Natanam, an intensely devotional set of verses by Maharshi Pantanjali where the words run sans elongated syllables (no deergham in the Sanskrit alphabet). The lyric is inherently rhythmic and most suitable to dance like most Shiva strotra. She danced like lightning, moving like a dazzling wire taking the entire stage space with enchanting ease. The pranams to the four directions to the sollukattu was strikingly impressive. The footwork patterns were complex without repetition but for the teermanam. Her face bore the expression of the lord of cosmic dance- a series of contrasting emotions which are attributable only to lord Shiva-as serene as stern, strong, subtle and also soft, depending on the beholder. She was grace personified at every stage whether she donned the role of the enigmatic Shiva or the deceptively sweet Vishnu or the naughty little Krishna.
The Dasavataram was offered on a different platter than the usual one. Her guru, SK Rajaratnam’s tuning to dance of Annamacharya’s original composition was a marvellous piece indariki abhaya micchu cheyi. Having established Vishnu in various postures (mudras), she takes us along the Matsya (meena), Koorma, Varaha, Narasimha and so on emulating the avatar, not to the words of the lyric but to a series of jatis which looked unique and compelling. The juxtaposition of ‘Gopi vastra harana’ with ‘Draupadi vastrapaharana’ ( kula satula maanamunu... ) was an excellent piece of creativity. The pancha jati adavu (tattu-mettu) aptly suited the sequence of events at this stage.
The Purandhara Dasarnama Chikkavane ivaru... was a pure abhinaya piece wrought with eroticism, but her handling just about made it romantic without stretching the line to a more mundane connotation. The dancer’s control over her medium and maturity came to the fore. A memorable dance performance comes to its fruition with an equally capable accompaniment. Nattuvangam by S. Srilatha, vocal by Chitrambari Krishnakumar, violin by Srilakshmi Venkataramani and mridangam by Karthikeyan Ramanathan enhanced the recital which was part of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival held recently in Bhubaneshwar.