Dance of high calibre

Revati Ramachandran

Revati Ramachandran  

REVATI RAMCHANDRAN, a disciple of the late Mangudi Durairaja Iyer, hosted a sumptuous feast of her dance to the viewers on December 19. She has done research, as announced, in the Bhagavata Mela dance-dramas. Her presentation was purely in the Bharatanatyam format of the Thanjavur style.

A Pushpanjali, followed by an Alarippu was simply arresting. The choreography of the dancer's guru was of such high order. Usually Alarippus are vocally recited by the nattuvanars, but here, the nattuvanar kept silent and instead a Tiruppugazh song was musically rendered. Adding such Tiruppugazh songs during the Alarippu was a contribution of Thanjavur Kandappa Nattuvanar and this pattern has come to stay. But the nattuvanar's participation in the present case was restricted (the reason is not known) only to wield the cymbals. The viewers were told that the Alarippu would be in Sankeerna Triputa (13 counts), whereas, the Chhandas of the Tiruppugazh, sung on the occasion, as well as the nattuvanar's tala reckoning showed only a Chhanda tala, having two Khanda Chapus, succeeded by eight counting of fingers, each having two, so totalling 26. It would not have been a grave mistake if the tala had been announced as Chhanda tala.

"Samini Rammanave'', a varna in the raga Khamas, by Thanjavur Ponnayya, followed. A word about composers is necessary here. It has become common for almost all Bharatanatyam dancers, whenever they pick out a composition of the Thanjavur Brothers, to announce it as of the Quartette (perhaps due to the ignorance of the identity of the real composer) in particular those of Ponnayya, one among the brothers, as a composition of Ponnayya Pillai. They do not give a thought that Ponnayya and Ponnayya Pillai were different individuals. Ponnayya Pillai was a descendant (great grandson of Ponnayya), who was also a meritorious vaggeyakara.

In Revati's programme also, the Khamas varna was announced as a composition of Ponnayya Pillai. Will it not be good if care is taken in such matters?

The dance of Revati, however, took all in the auditorium to higher planes of ecstasy. Some age old dance-rasikas would have definitely felt that they were witnessing the performance of a great artiste of yesteryear. Every adavu for every Teermanam was perfect, as also the abhinaya, truly embedded with the Bhava. It mesmerised the audience and when she came to the end of the Varna, the piece-de-resistance, one felt sad that it was drawing to a close.

Revati Ramachandran is a true heir of Durairaja Iyer, with regard to the demanding and unique number, Suddha Nruttam. Agamas also speak about Suddha Nrutta, but the present Suddha Nrutta naturally differs from the former. The specifications given in the Agamic texts, could not be expected in the present times. Revati Ramachandran did justice to what her guru had taught her in a captivating manner.

A word about the nattuvanar and the singers is necessary. The danseuse may be beautiful and or excel in her art, but unless the musicians who provide support to her are good, her presentation would also be dull and sometimes, devoid of life. Syamasundar, who wielded the cymbals for Revati is totally perfect in keeping time, with the precise kalapramana. Ranjani and Roshini sisters sang very melodiously that at many times they distracted and drew the attention of the viewers by their soulful music. Kesavan (mridangam), Sarvanan (flute) and Seetarama Sarma (violin) — all these elevated the performance to great heights.

The evening fare of the annual festival of the Music Academy opened with a dance recital by G. Vidya Murthi, a medical student of Visakhapatnam. Winner of the first prize in the competitions held last year, Vidya Murthi learnt Kuchipudi from Smt. Bala Kondala Rao, who again learnt it from maestro, Vempati Chinna Satyam.

She took up "Endaro Mahanubhavulu'' of Tyagaraja and the style in which she presented it, was not the one of Kuchipudi, but Bharatanatyam. The composition being in Telugu her guru would have had no difficulty in deciphering the meaning of each pada. Vidya, however made some gestures, particularly for the words, `manasija' and `saraguna' which didn't quite convey the real meaning.

For "Bhajare Gopalam'' of Sadasiva Brahmendra (which was wrongly sung by the vocalist as `Bhaja Gopalam') the dancer portrayed different sancharis connected with Lord Krishna's sports and it was enjoyable.

Puttaparthi Narayanacharlu's composition, "Adenamma'' in raga Vasanta, came next in the traditional Kuchipudi style. Though well presented, it is not understandable why the interspersing Teermanams for a song in Adi tala should be changed into Khanda Chapu in the last segment, instead of doing them in Khanda gati of the same tala.

Then followed the song, "Nanda Nandana'' from Narayana Tirtha's "Krishna Leela Tarangini'' (scholars are of the opinion that it should not be called `Tarangam'). But it was quite surprising that the item was announced as `Padam'! The Tillana in raga Pahadi was neatly presented by Vidya, with delicacy and composure. Mangalam was a set of five verses, each commencing with the first letter of the Panchakshara. Vidya is svelte and has all the essential features required for a promising dancer, and no doubt she would rise high, provided more care is taken regarding abhinaya, especially for the words taken up; and the guru has also immense share in this.


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