A chain of nritta, nritya, abhinaya

SWARALAYA PRESENTED an evening of Bharatanatyam by Chennai-based Urmila Satyanarayana and flute by G. S. Rajan this past week at Kamani auditorium, New Delhi. Devoted to Krishna, the programme was called Sangeet Govind. An evening by the same name was organised last year as well, with different artistes, on Janmashtami day.

Whether or not it coincides with the actual festival, this theme is excellent for interpretation in music and dance, and hopefully Sangeet Govind will become an annual feature in the Capital.

Urmila Satyanarayana designed a well-balanced programme, choosing from the many facets of Krishna's life, from tousled prankster to stealer of hearts and the charioteer that helps rein in the mind's wild horses. The long-complicated jatis of Lalgudi Jayaraman's varnam in raga Charukeshi were balanced with frozen araimandi stances that followed the arudhis and were soothing. Urmila's clear footwork, audible against the music without a floor mike, is flawless. Her neat lines, agile jumps and energy make for a heady combination. Some of the dance patterns, such as dola hands with kuditthi mettu adavu, were extremely alluring. Only in fleeting moments it seems as if some extra space between her heels, or the hint of an overstretched movement interferes with the charm of the whole.

``Jo Achutananda'' - a Padam of Annamacharya - depicted a mother telling her child a bedtime story about Krishna's birth, adventurous journey to Gokul and childhood pranks. At the other end of the spectrum was ``Shri Parthasarathy Paalimpara'', in which Urmila enacted Arjuna's distress on the battlefield and his deliverance through Krishna's Gitopadesh.

Being set to raga Madhyamavati added a stirring grandeur to the abhinaya.

The finale was a Tillana in raga Kadanakutoohalam composed by the maestro Balamurali Krishna. Swamimalai S. K. Suresh had a challenging job handling the nattuvangam and vocals, but he had excellent mridangam support from Nellai D. Kannan.

On the flute was V. K. Sivakumar, and on the violin, Delhi's C.S. Anuroop.

The team might wish to consider adding a separate vocalist of calibre matching S. K. Suresh's admirable nattuvangam.

Urmila's easy unaffected abhinaya makes her a natural storyteller. Being in her prime she is in a position to take all aspects of her art to great heights, when nritta, nritya and abhinaya eventually merge in a seamless whole one might call ``chain'', to borrow a phrase from Hindustani music.