Friday Review

Flawless footwork

Bhavana Reddy.

Bhavana Reddy.   | Photo Credit: 06dfrBhavana

Celebrating dance, the Natya Vriksha event was laced with graceful performances by Bhavana Reddy and Vasudevan Iyengar.

It was a rich tribute to dance in every aspect. It was Natya Vriksha’s way of celebrating dance through workshops, interactive sessions, performances, homage to doyens in the field. Dance doyen Geeta Chandran offered a platter filled with nourishing food for thought and the eye of course! Masters in the art of dancing shared their expertise with young artistes while the brilliant among young dancers got a platform to display their talent.

Bhavana Reddy, well-known in her field of Kuchipudi dance, gave a short but splendid performance of archetypal Kuchipudi, namely, Bhama Kalapam and Narayana Teertha tarangam, the latter a sort of marvel to the viewers since the dancer balances herself on a brass plate and performs. Young Bhavana is a versatile dancer with strong nritta and sense of rhythm which is half the work done. The Ganapathi Vandana, an invocatory piece, established her credentials even before she moved towards the seemingly easy but actually testing Bhama Kalapam, a solo with dialogue. Within the time frame, she had to make do with Satyabhama’s (Lord Krishna’s spouse) entry (Pravesha Daruvu) which in itself constitutes a whole while the entire kalapam (story) alone takes up hours! With the customised attributes of a lengthy, braided plait and a regal costume, Bhavana walked the stage majestically to the refrain of “Bhama ney Satya bhama ney…” a sort of self-introductory song. As the lyric unfolded the dancer launched into listing out her identity and status intertwining them with a series of footwork patterns that lent an air of authenticity to the dance form. The natural laughter in Bhavana’s eyes understated the pride that had to go with the character of Satyabhama though the demeanour was brought out beautifully through her gestures and the typical gait. Satyabhama being a Swadinabhartruka (also prouda nayika), required a more mature facial expression which was not in keeping with the age of the dancer here.

Once the character of Madhavi (Satyabhama’s alter ego) entered (Guru Raja Reddy) and a dialogue ensued between the two (vani peru jeppa, siggayane o yamma), the artiste handled her character with ease and elan. The plate dance with complex rhythmic patterns was executed with clarity and arithmetic precision, a testimonial that the artiste was adept at it. The Natya Tarangini accompanists led by Kaushalya on the nattuvangam complimented the artiste.

Power-packed

The final day was a real treat with Vasudevan Iyengar giving us a power-packed performance. It was a singularly conventional recital from the word go. It began with Nattai rangam and ended with Surati going by the adage “adi naattai anthya surati.” The Tanjore Quartet’s melaprapti jatis (rhythmic utterances), a rarity these days, gave us a peek into the artiste’s calibre which only escalated to utter awe and admiration as he took up Shyama Sastri’s famed Bhairavi Swarajati for expansive delineation. With a viruttam (verse) from Saundarya Lahari (Stanza 51: Shive sringarardha...) which he sang in sonorous tones sketching each line with marked clarity like a painter with his colours, Vasudevan’s mime articulated the verse as he etched the mother Goddess in myriad stances taking us through at least seven of the nine artistic moods (navarasa). There was no hurry, no artifice in expressing the moods of the devotee and his goddess at the same time; it had to be utter surrender and pining love for a mother on one hand and the reflection of Nature’s varied faces in the Goddess on the other. The hastha mudras were strikingly intelligible that one couldn’t ignore the gestures of the dancer. Apart from the vigour and verve of the dancer which seemed unparalleled, the expressive gestures could give any female dancer a run for her art. To say he was stupendous wouldn’t be hyperbolic. The Swarajati by way of its structure gave ample scope to exhibit his virtuosity in both segments, viz. nritta and abhinaya which ran parallel to each other. There was no way to state which of the two overtook the other. The patterning of the jatis for the third line (ga-ma-ga-ri-sa-ri...) of the swara was breath-taking. It set the audience applauding in sheer appreciation. Each line was refined dexterously and presented in keeping with the profound thought and word of the lyric. The detailing of the puja performed in a temple brought the priest-composer Shyama Sastri to life. So too was the finale staged as an esoteric journey into bliss, the opening of the seven chakras which are said to awaken the super consciousness in man. The Surati tillana was on expected lines for, what more could the audience ask after such a potent performance. For the first time in a dance recital, vocalist Venkateswaran could not hold a candle to the dancer. Chandrasekhar on the mridangam was compelling as was Shankar on the nattuvangam and Raghavendra Prasad on the violin.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 8:50:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/flawless-footwork/article8561600.ece

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