‘Talent hunt’ yields a rich crop!

Future stars C. Shanmukhadas,

Future stars C. Shanmukhadas,  


Among the Yuva Puraskar award winners, Laishram Bina Devi in Manipuri and Sharvari Ashok Jemini in Kathak stand out.

In an increasingly self-centred dance scenario, it was hardly surprising that many senior dancers did not even bother to attend the performances at Meghdoot Theatre, to encourage awardees selected as dance hopes for the future. In a generally high level of classical presentations, Laishram Bina Devi’s Manipuri stood out, not only for the sterling dance quality, but also for the music with Lokesh Sharma’s Pung and Sana Thombi Devi’s compelling singing, plus the balanced programming.

The combined Manipuri training under Guru Singhajit Singh along with Thang-Ta expertise gives the dancer’s movements a rare blend of supreme grace and timing topped with an assertive poise. If the ashtapadi “Chandana charchita”, with satvik angikabhinaya conveyed the emotive throb in the sakhi’s description to Radha of Krishna sporting with the gopis, the eight-matra Tanchep tala Terina demonstrated Manipuri nritta at its best.

But nothing could match the finely balanced dramatic power and pathos of Abhimanyu, stealthy as a stalking tiger, penetrating the Kaurava army’s Chakravyuha formation, his sword spelling terror in the enemy camp, till surrounded and quartered to death. Guru Singhajit Singh’s powerful concept with Guru Chauba Singh’s dance visualisation found its perfect vehicle.

Effortless dancing

The other high performer whose ‘tayyari’, surpassed all expectations was Kathak disciple of Rohini Bhate, Sharvari Ashok Jameni. Again it was that blend of innate grace and complete command over layakari without any of the exhibitionist tone of Kathak today. Dancing effortlessly, churning out improvisations with unerring clarity of footwork with intricate changes of accent in tatkar in sankeerna jati, her padhant too had all the tonal variations and rhythmic exactitude — matching the inimitable tabla playing by Nikhil Pathak. There was nothing of the already seen in the kavit on Durga, the Chakradhar paran, and the anagat tukras in the drut laya. It was nritta with aesthetic subtlety keeping pace with rhythmic brilliance. Already a name in Chennai, Bharatanatyam dancer Lavanya Anant, disciple of the late Rajaratnam Pillai and also trained under K.J. Sarasa and Kalanidhi Narayanan, had the good fortune of sharing the stage with fellow awardee K.S.R. Anirudha as mridangam accompanist. Accomplished Anirudha’s unique mridangam jatis, much used in Chennai Bhartatanatyam today, have enriched mother Sudharani Raghupathy’s dance productions. The varied tones produced by simultaneous use of three mridangams enhanced the impact of Lavanya’s inspired Bharatanatyam, its impact beginning with the punch of Anirudha’s composition Shivadandakam inspired by Muttutandavar’s Natesa kavutvam.

The dancer could however visualise a more dramatic ending in keeping with the mnemonics, than the tame circling. Based on Subramania Bharati’s composition evoking Parashakti, Lavanya’s involved, centred rendition with clean dance profile, evocatively communicated the devotee’s submission to the power of the Goddess, even while some phrases like “Vazhi nee solluvai (you will show the way) called for more suggestive than literal gestural interpretations.


Unfazed by the thin audience, Kathakali awardee Kalamandalam Shanmukhadas excelled in his Stree Vesham as Yashoda in Krishnaleela, narrating for the benefit of mother Devaki whom fate has denied the joy of bringing up her child Krishna, the exploits of the young charmer, starting from Pootana Moksham when Krishna was a baby. The slow-paced singing by Babu Namboothiri and Hareesh Namboothiri constituted pure nectar. Kalanilayam Manoj provided sensitive maddalam.

Methil Devika’s Mohiniattam (trained under Girija Chandran), after initial years in Bharatanatyam, has a controlled andolika torso movement, the dance exuding grace and stillness. The start with Kavalam Narayana Panikar’s “Sree Ganapatiyode tirunamam” in Arabhi and Neelambari was followed by Neeram in Sindhubhairavi, inspired by Vaikom temple where, after a Kalamezhuttu drawing of the Devi, the dancer invokes the Goddess’ power. Methil’s enviable expressional facility, in Devi Kannaki, a tightly packed dance narration based on the Silappadikaram story of Kannagi, Kovalan and Madhavi, failed to differentiate sufficiently between the two heroines — the abhinaya investing both with a similar transcendent quality.

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