Enchanting ballet

ANITA GUHA of Bharatalaya Trust is sure to receive the bountiful blessings of the Lord of Seven Hills, for her excellent presentation of the dance ballet, ``Sadaa Venkatesam Smaraami Smaraami." The main story centres round the episodes leading to the divine wedding of Lord Srinivasa with Padmavati. The inaugural show of this production was held under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts, at the Narada Gana Sabha Hall. Anita's choreography of the ballet was very impressive. She had taken enormous efforts to visualise several aspects of the ballet to make it a very lively and interesting mode of storytelling.

The story was communicated in an easy flow of lyrical Tamil, composed and set to music by the versatile P. R. Venkatasubramaniam, who is a strong pillar of support to all the productions of Anita. There is always an underlying note of deep emotion that makes his lyrics more potent, infusing into it the element of Bhakti further. More than 50 ragas had been aptly employed by the composer. Anita Guha sang and conducted the show with utmost commitment and care. She was ably assisted by vocalist Kalyani Kalyanaraman. J. Padmanabhan rendered excellent mridangam accompaniment. Flutist Ramesh gave pleasant support, particularly his Kapi and Dwijavanti were crisp and well delineated. Muruganandam(Violin) was equally melodious.

The show commenced with the expert introductory narration of Revathi Sankaran. The opening song depicting the Dasa Avatara , glorified the Lord of Seven hills as the 10th incarnation from where the story unfolds and describes Vishnu descending on the earth to fulfil the desires of many of his devotees of the past and the present and his marriage to Padmavathi (Vedavati reborn), thereby enabling Vakulamala's (Yasoda reborn) wish to witness a divine wedding fulfilled.

The ballet had a clear scenic development. Noteworthy scenes were those of the Ardhanari (when Sage Bhrugu approaches Kailasa), with the dancers (Pratibha and Saranya) exhibiting perfect co-ordination in a well- conceptualised, creative piece, the different stages of Padmavathi growing up, the Bommai Kalyanam celebration by little Padmavati and her friends, the thrilling Pinnal Kolaattam, scenes of child Krishna as Yasoda (as Vakulamala) reminisces, and the Lord Himself appearing as Kurathi to foretell the future of Padmavati. While every scene was well-conceived and enacted with great attention, revealing months of hard work on each and every detail, a little bit of tightening up the scenes will make the production more compact. Also, lesser use of stage sets and props would have allowed the ballet to focus more on the dance technique. The highlight of the ballet was certainly the scene of the Cowherd who takes care of the Cow and Calf (Brahma and Siva), which appear on the earth to feed the Lord who is meditating without food or water. The little dancers (Krithika and Dhavalya) who were disguised as the cow and the calf stole the show, with their exquisite enactment, a lilting tune and rhythm following them every time. Charanya Raghothaman as the cowherd was brilliant.

Madhumathy Thyagarajan as Lord Srinivasa was simply superb with her divine face that had all the charm to mesmerise. The sisters Aishwarya (Padmavati) and Saranya (Kurathi) Narayanaswamy did their part with ample skill and seemed very professional in every movement.

It is heart-warming that Anita has given opportunity to almost all her disciples and has made them have a feel of our divine treasures. Also she should be commended for bringing alive some of our traditional arts like Kummi, Kolaattam, Bommai Kalyanam, etc. The ballet will be presented on the following days, Dec 5, 21, 28, at the Mylapore Fine Arts, India Fine Arts and Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple respectively.


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