Vibrant, confident, graceful

STRONG IN BASICS: Anusha Ravishankar

STRONG IN BASICS: Anusha Ravishankar   | Photo Credit: PHOTOs: R. Shivaji Rao


Accuracy and confidence made watching Anusha and Nitya a delight.

Whether it was in the opening pushpanjali in Nalinakanti ragam, Adi talam, a composition of violinist Seetharama Sharma, or in the ragamalika varnam, `Swamiyai Azhaithodi Vaa,' or in the concluding Adi talam-Shuddha Nrittam composition, rhythm reigned supreme during the dance recital of Anusha Ravishankar at Kartik Fine Arts recently. Anusha, a disciple of Revathi Ramachandran, proved herself with a confident and vibrant effort.Anusha's strength is an unerring time sense and there is no ambiguity in either mood or movement. The fundamentals of the aesthetics of the dance style being in place, she has the capacity to grow into an impressive performer once she identifies and works on the grey areas. Her footwork is admirable, but the complete absence of the araimandi does her no good. There is also the need to cover more space within the adavu structures.The addition of Bhavani Prasad, veena, gave the musical ensemble added depth. Sashidharan's handling of the transitions in the varnam was smooth as was his Poorvikalyani treatment. Revathi Ramachandran, nattuvangam, and N. K. Kesavan, mridangam, kept accurate rhythm, the latter being especially sensitive in the Suddha Nrittam segment.

Aesthetics preserved

It is obvious that Nitya Venkateswaran loves to dance. An Indian American from California, she exhibits confidence that lends a sheen to every movement and expression. A disciple of Vishal Ramani, Nitya has also trained in the Martha Graham technique of modern dance and in Flamenco as well. Yet none of these influences spilled over to colour the Indian aesthetic. Her recital for the Natyanjali Trust was simply a reiteration of how well-nurtured our cultural roots are in the Diaspora. Even a forlorn heroine in the Sriranjini varnam, `Swami Nee,' could not dampen the dancer's spirits. While the arudis in the charanam sparkled, the speed in some theermanams felt pointless. Madurai R. Muralidharan was adept with the cymbals and was ably supported by Shaktivel on the mridangam.The introduction of a sitar into the live Carnatic orchestra was not a happy one. Except in the Kalyani Siva bhajan, the sitar played by Sashi Achari was largely unheard. K. Rajesh, vocal, was a melodious asset, and R. Thyagarajan, who alternated with equal authority and melody between the violin and the flute, comprised the ensemble.At a macro level, Nitya makes a striking picture of grace, dignity, good posture and good footwork, and these seem enough most of the time. But when one delves deeper, one sees some lacunae in the angularities native to the Bharatanatyam style. Often the half-seated stance is sacrificed in the exuberance of movements, so a balance needs to be maintained between the vital but divergent requirements. That Nitya stands out in a crowd is proof enough of her aptitude.

Clear and lucid

That Sanhita Basu Ghosh comes with the impressive credentials of having learnt from late Gurus Kelucharan Mohapatra and Sanjukta Panigrahi is enough recommendation. Added to the beauty and lyricism of Odissi was the splendour of the venue, the Kapaleeshwar temple, that multiplied its effect many times over. Accompanied by her student Sujatha Sampath, Sanhita's offerings were short and simple. She opened with a Siva Stuthi composed by herself and sung by Mitu Arakkal, following which the two dancers jointly presented some original compositions of Kelucharan Mohapatra such as the Dasavataar and the concluding Moksha. The hallmark of Odissi is the tribhanga posture and the fluidity with which the varying levels are maintained during the pure dance movements. Both dancers were graceful through the brief nritta passages composed within a ten-beat cycle that peppered Jayadeva's composition on Lord Vishnu's incarnations. The chauka position was also sufficiently in evidence, despite the make shift stage that could have hampered free movement. There was clarity and lucidity in the dramatic components, the most impressive being the delineations of the Narahari and the Bamana avataaras. The pure dance Moksha in Jhaap taal of eight beats was an enjoyable combination of music, rhythm and skill. A faulty recording no doubt marred the entire proceedings, but more than that one felt a certain lack of involvement where the forty-minute presentation did not rise above a mere performance.

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