FRIDAY REVIEW

Marked by harmony and grace

RUPA SRIKANTH

FACETS OF LOVE: R. Lakshmi Priya Sundaresan

FACETS OF LOVE: R. Lakshmi Priya Sundaresan  

As the sweet melody from Dr. Gayathri Kannan and Vijayalakshmi Krishnamurthy filled the space around the artistes at Bharat Kalachar, there was a sense of the ethereal, a sense of reaching out beyond the mundane. And this feeling intensified as the tempo picked up with the involved participation of the mridangist Nellai Balaji. The musicality was not restricted only to the orchestra that also consisted of C. P. Venkatesh on the flute and T. S. Babu on the violin. The movements in Rekha Balamurali's Bharatha Nrithyam reflected the same harmony, one invariably finds in guru Padma Subrahmanyam's choreography. Presented within a `margam' format, Bharatha Nrithyam proved to be an interesting amalgam of Bharatanatyam adavus and the lasya-dominated karanas. And Rekha's grace and accurate timing proved the icing on the cake.

The dancer is a long time disciple of Padma Subrahmanyam, and has opened her own dance institution Anughraha Fine Arts Academy in Chennai. Good footwork for the most part marked Muthu Thandavar's Mayamalavagowla kriti ``Aadi kondar" as also Papanasam Sivan's Dhanyasi varnam, ``Nee indha maayam." The distinctive demands on footwork and posture for the different movement styles, with the regular thumping for the adavus contrasting with the light-footedness necessary in some karanas, were particularly riveting.

Rekha's agility was also on view in the varnam sequences where the challenges came in the form of sudden acceleration of speed or in repeated mandi adavus. But the complete absence of araimandi and the often nebulous hasta mudras would have one almost believe it to be a part of the Bharatha Nrithyam style rather than a personal indulgence.

The heroine's longing for Krishna in the varnam was handled with maturity. The tableau of the Pattabhishekam scene in Meenakshi Subrahmayam's Bhairavi composition `Sri Rama' was an adequate sketch while the quick changing expressions in the lilting Sindhu Bhairavi ``Chinnanchiru penn polae" penned by Ulundoorpettai Shanmugam, brought out the dancer's versatility. However one would have wished for more depth in the abhinaya segment.

With Gayathri as lead vocalist and nattuvanar guiding the way, Padma Subrahmanyam's Kannada thillana was displayed in the best light. The composition and choreography sparkled, with an unusual pause in the refrain adding to the charm of the melody. C. P. Venkatesh scored here with his delectable interjections. Another outstanding feature in the tillana was the verse from Abhinava Gupta's ``Abhinav Bharati" embedded within. It also served to sign off tunefully.

Rekha Balamurali

Rekha Balamurali  

R. Lakshmi Priya Sundaresan's Bharatanatyam recital held on Independence Day marked the fortieth anniversary of the Mylapore Arts Academy. The recital resonated with an earnestness both from the dancer and her guru, Lakshmi Ramaswamy that would have done the sabha proud.

Both the teacher and the student warmed up during the Papanasam Sivan varnam ``Swami naan undan adimai" in Nattakuranji raagam, Adi taalam, to create a sensitive portrayal of a devotee of Nataraja. The dancer was light on her feet even in the faster segments. Especially well done was the theermanam just before the chittaswaram. She would do well to work on her kaala pramanam, and to watch for imprecision in some overhead arm movements.

The bhakti quotient was prevalent through the varnam, though there was some ambiguity in the use of kartharimukha hasta while describing Nataraja's form and ornamentation.

Lakshmi has a mobile face that captures the nuances of expression with ease. This saw her through the evening that began with love for the country, then love for God, and continued in this vein to explore the different facets of love. The frequent switches were handled expertly by vocalist Vanathi Raghuraman. She also had a supportive cast to work with: Lakshmi Ramaswamy, nattuvangam, Nagai S. Narayanan, mridangam, Ramesh, flute and Kalaiarasan, violin. While the drummer provided unobtrusive rhythm all evening, the instrumentalists' introductions to Kapi and Desh in the latter half were par excellence.