A breath of fresh air

THE BHARATANATYA recital of Manjari, daughter and disciple of Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar under the auspices of the cultural wing of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, came like a fresh shower in the midst of an oppressive summer. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Kalakendra, headed by Justice K. S. Bhaktavatsalam, deserves praise for providing a forum for dedicated aritstes, who work hard to uphold the traditional values of this dance form.

The recital was conducted by the father, C. V. Chandrasekhar, a much-revered dancer-teacher himself, who gave immense support to this disciple, with his skilful nattuvangam and choreography. Excellent vocal support given by Hariprasad was an asset to the orchestra which comprised versatile artistes, Adyar Balu (mridangam), Sikhamani (violin) and B. Muthukumar (flute). Under the leadership of the veteran, the orchestra put forth excellent, committed work.

The recital of Manjari commenced with a vibrant Pushpanjali followed by a verse on Lord Ganesha, "Mooshika Vahana". It is time dancers chose another hymn from the many verses written on the deity just to avoid monotony.

The tisram alarippu was the opening number, after which Manjari proceeded with a varnam composed by Chandrasekhar, in Mohanam, addressed to Lord Krishna. This piece-de-resistance gave ample scope for Manjari, to reveal her inherent strength in nritta, dignified abhinaya and perfect understanding of the varied aspects of the dance-form.

Manjari has an impressive stage presence, equipped with a supple physique that could execute with control, ease and grace, the different adavus. However, some of the adavu structures that she presented during the theermanams or in the charanaswara sections were new combinations that did not seem to belong to the Bharatanatya format.

"Swamikku Nigar" in Tamil, glorifying Krishna, was much similar to the varnam compositions of the Quartette, with lively lyrical content, the Muktayi and the charana sections. The theermanams were rigorous with different rhythmical combinations, making them complex. The father-daughter duo made a skilful presentation of these, as well as the enjoyable swara patterns in the latter part.

Pleasant portrayal of the thematic content, with limited episodic narrations on the deity, marked Manjari's skill in abhinaya. However, the description for the opening lines could have been elaborated with emphasis on the all-pervasive, all-powerful-Divinity, thereby stressing the spiritual significance and the eternal search and bondage of the soul to the Supreme.

Also, in "Thaamadam," while denoting the delay of the Lord's arrival, it would have been appropriate if the longing Nayika had wondered at His mysterious ways in coming to the protection of His devotees, by citing episodes like Gajendra Moksha. This would have given the dancer scope to display the appropriate emotions. Instead, the dancer opted for the mundane one, wherein she depicted the heroine ignoring the Lord, as she sits chatting with her sakhis, as the cause of the delay. However, the depictions glorifying the Naama Siddhanata were impressive. The Charana section and the accompanying lyrics were brilliant, a beautiful synthesis of visualised poetry and melodious music.

The post-varnam section had again the theme of Krishna, with the padam "Tamarasakhsha" centring around the heroine awaiting the Lord, and the Ashtapadi, "Kshanam Adhuna," describing the divine lovers — Radha and Krishna. Manjari displayed reasonable grip, although a padam with another theme or a javali in a slightly faster pace would have added charm to the performance.

A vibrant tillana in Simhendramadhyamam, a composition of Chandrasekhar, gave a sparkling conclusion to Manjari's refined performance although it was disappointing to see the traditional format of tillana missing in this recital too, like in most others. Manjari presented only three korvais, having combinations of chatusram, misram and sankeernam. It is a pity that all the five jatis, in the order of chatusram, tisram, misram, khandam and sankeernam with individual korvais, are never to be seen in a tillana these days, thus reducing this number, into a mere flowery, picturesque presentation with abundance of poses and movements.

Ranganayaki Jayaraman of Sri Saraswati Gana Nilayam, recently released a CD titled, `Guru Samarpanam,' containing music compositions for Bharatanatyam. Justice K. S. Bhaktavatsalam, chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai kendra, was the chief guest. Padmini Krishnamurti (from Muscat), senior disciple of Ranganayaki Jayaraman, presented `Nrityaaraadhana,' a dance feature on Krishnaleela. Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar, Dr. Avvai Natarajan and Krishnakumari Narendran took part.


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