Sudharma Vaithiyanathan, disciple of dancer-teacher A. Lakshman and senior dancer Srekala Bharat, has been in the ‘arena’ for so long that she reflects unusual self-assurance. The limelight and its trappings gives her a spring in her step and an excited smile on her face; luckily for Sudharma, the enthusiasm is backed by talent, such as her intuitive sense of timing and aesthetics.
The recital for Brahma Gana Sabha was powered by Professor Kandadevi S. Vijayaraghavan (violin) and Sharanya Krishnan vocal’s melody and Nellai D. Kannan’s supportive yet embellishing percussive style.
Lakshman is a good teacher with an impressive list of students, but he needs more dexterity in handling the cymbals. There is, however, considerable improvement in both the intonation and precision in reciting the jathi korvais. On the other hand, Lakshman’s korvais are rhythmic, old-world Vazhuvoor-style sequences that are enjoyable to hear and see. They may come across as a bit simplistic occasionally, with a predominance of kudithu mettu adavus, but they are pleasing overall.
Sudharma’s execution was spot-on, with good timing, clear footwork and clean lines. The easy leaps or utplavanas in the Nagaswarali thillana (Adi, B. Kannan) and the muzhu mandi start for the trikala jathi in the Sankarabarnam varnam (‘Karunai Seidida,’ Adi, Papanasam Sivan) were pointers to her agility. An araimandi correction is necessary for better posture.
As a nayika longing for Kapaleeshwara’s attention in the varnam, the dancer related the sthala puranam of the Mylapore temple, where Siva cursed Parvathi to turn into a peacock. Sudharma has developed her emotive skills and is able to convey the mood effectively, but she needs to stretch herself a little bit to complete the picture; the timing or the clarity of the end is often fuzzy.
Why they chose a similar virahotkhandita nayika (one who pines for her love interest) in the padam (‘Sollavallayo Kiliye,’ ragamalika, tisra Adi, written by Bharatiar and composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman) is a puzzle. Following the brisk thillana was a meditative Devi stuthi in Ahir Bhairav, ‘Sri Jagadeeshwari Durgamata’ by Lalgudi Jayaraman that gave the finale a sublime note.