Adding poetry to dance

In performance Saroja Vaidyanathan and troupe.

In performance Saroja Vaidyanathan and troupe.   | Photo Credit: Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Delhi-based Bharatanatyam exponent Saroja Vaidyanathan and troupe presented a bouquet of fine recitals based on Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi’s poems.

The first view, as one stepped inside the Stein auditorium of India Habitat Centre in New Delhi this past Saturday, was that of Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan leading four of her students to the stage. They were to give the evening’s first presentation based on the poetry of one of the greatest Tamil poets, Subramanya Bharathi.

The guru chose a bouquet of Bharathi’s poems on patriotism, women and youth. The pleasing music by Mohan Vaidhya, that accompanied the guru and the shishyas as they stepped on to the stage, raised your hope for a worthwhile evening ahead.

Bharathi, who lost his mother at the age of five, is said to have come under the spell of Sister Nivedita and it was during this time that he concentrated on the rights and privileges of women in our society. Influenced by these thoughts, the ‘new woman’ that Bharathi crafted in his writings was an emanation of a ‘shakti’ who is a willing helpmate of man in building a new universe. So it was not a surprise to hear lines like ‘Bharathi said women can excel if the man in her life gives unremitting support’ during the event. The impact of such words delivered to an attentive audience, which comprised men of all ages too, can certainly be positive.

Being involved in the freedom struggle and the consequent reformist movement, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, as he was known, also wrote many poems soaked in patriotism and the role of youth in it. A linguist that he was, Bharathi was fluent in French and had even written songs on the Russian and French revolutions. All of the troupe’s nine presentations have well-selected poems on this genre from the poet’s huge oeuvre.

In the opening presentation, “Enniya Mudidal”, the young dancers were well-coordinated in following the choreographic steps designed by their Guru, but they somewhat seemed overawed by the Guru’s presence on the stage. The thought got credence when a few more of her students from Ganesa Natyalaya presented the second item, “Ganapathy Rayan”, without the Guru by their side. It was far more enjoyable and each one of them contributed to bring out so superbly the nuances of a well-coordinated group dance.

The lone male dancer among the girls in colourful outfits easily became a part of the herd with superb body movements and facial expression though one wished he came on to the stage without make-up.

One understands that shringar is a vital part of a dance recital but isn’t it time to also respect the fact that for most people, shringar is commonly associated with women more than man. Now, you would say, the arts are for the discerning but for how long does one wouldn’t accept the fact that such feelings have actually blocked the minds of many parents and stopped them from exposing their male child to our traditional forms of dance. Some thought in this regard by the seniors in this field, keeping the changing times in mind, might be useful in popularising our performing arts, particularly among our young boys.


In some of the evening’s presentations, some students were not quite up to the mark in abhinaya though some of them, say Oxana Chugueva, just excelled. Often in a group setting, one’s excellence can cover up for the other’s failure, and here too, it happened at many places. Same is the case in body movements.

With a well-acclaimed dancer, the audience more often than not get more demanding and at times unforgiving too. So here, one takes the liberty to express the feeling that one found the body movements of Saroja Vaidyanathan taut at times though her more than flawless abhinaya gave reasons to believe that it was a worthwhile evening. The dancers who formed part of the troupe were Aarthi Shankar, Snigdha Venkataramani, Sneha Venkataramani, Swapna Seshandri, Tanvir Vehnival, Oxana Chugueva, Srividvatha Sridhar, Aditi Sahay, H.B. Sahana and Pranati Baxla.


Recommended for you