It was literally a varnamaya (colourful) Rajyotsava celebration at the JSS Auditorium, hosted by Natya Niketan led by veteran dance Guru Revathi Narasimhan, on Sunday morning. It also marked the 37th anniversary of the dance school.
Seasoned Sugama Sangeetha singers Srinath, Subbulakshmi and Anjali, led by Jyothi Ravi Prakash, sang a couple of popular Kannada compositions in praise of Karnataka to recorded music. The famous Jayabharatha jananiya tanujaathe by Kuvempu was translated into dance by the young dancers of Natya Niketan. Both the dance and music presentations evoked patriotic feelings. Another Kannada poem Baaranna nee nodu was rendered in folk style in a neat and tidy choreographic work.Powerful display
Four young male dancers, Ananth, Somasekhar, Srinivas and Karthik Datar, made an excellent impression with their control over laya, their agility and their co-ordination as a team. Their show spelt power and precision — just imagine the energy and vitality of the dancers performing on stage!
They began with a demanding rhythm-oriented Mallari. Laya variations in speed, gaits and patterns were met with aplomb and ease. The physical and spiritual inputs of Balamuralikrishna’s Amma Anandadayini, addressed to the Devi, were elegantly explored and expressed by the dancers in the form of a varna-exposition.
The line Akaara ukaara makaara roopini was given an energetic treatment. The presentations sustained rasikas’ attention because of the interesting sollus, the dynamic movement patterns and the excellent music. Every phrase of the sollus had an explicit expression in the form of movement to highlight a plethora of tishras, chatushras and mishras used therein. It is no exaggeration to say that it was poetic to hear and see their visualisation. The expressions on their faces and the subtle changes in their body language spoke volumes about the dancers’ sensitive abhinaya, as no words can. The interjection of the pure dance sequences in between was enjoyable. They concluded with a tillana in Hindola raga. Here again, the quartet often moved gracefully across the stage, sweeping off their feet in high jumps and leaps; slunk and slid across the stage with agility and emotion.
The dancers exhibited their refined and radiant histrionic expertise in sketching the supremacy of Lord Hanuman on the basis of a Kannada pada Enu bedali Hanuma (Gorak Kalyan). It had a topical relevance too in view of the ensuing Hanumath Jayanthi celebrations. The tale of Hanuman and his brother Bheema was portrayed with rich dividends.
Artistic and aesthetic fervor
Another winner was the recounting of the tale of Shakunthala in the form of a dance drama choreographed by Guru Revathi Narasimhan and presented by the Shivakami troupe of Natya Niketan. The well-known story of Shakuntala and Dushyantha based on Kalidasa’s Sanskrit work was beautified with the use of rhythm, freezes and mood music to create an artistic and aesthetic fervor. The presentation began with a traditional Pushpanjali and Ganesha stuti. Shreya, Karuna, Priyanka, Adithi, Vasavi, Vedika, Srilatha, Pushpa, Tejashree, Keerthana and Anusha Sridhar enacted the story in 16 scenes.
The nritta interludes were taut and kept up the tempo of the rendition. What a sight it was to watch the dancers doing both graceful and vigorous movements with perfection! Kaanada, Anandabhairavi, Kambhoji, Abheri, Mohana, Athana and many other ragas enriched the varying bhaavaas. Choreography proved to be a seamless blend of classical Bharatanatya dance style. The entire rendition was most classically refined. There was vibrancy and joy that you might expect in a classical dance drama piece in the movements. Certainly, the dancing readily captured the youthful energy of the dancers and sincerity of the verses. The music, period costumes and lighting provided colorful and nuanced support.
Attendance awards presented
The art historian and archivist Ashish Mohan Khokar deserves to be commended for his tireless efforts in preserving and propagating the priceless history of our classical dance. Thanks to his wife Elizabeth who has been lending him all support. He has been bringing out special volumes of his annual monumental work Attendance featuring various dance forms and artistes. He has to be admired for his praiseworthy gesture of instituting and presenting awards to the accomplished dancers in the name of dance legends. This year’s programme was held on Saturday at Alliance Francaise.
This year’s Ram Gopal Best Solo Male Dancer Award went to Aniruddha ‘Bala’ Knight, the grandson of the legendary Balasaraswati; the Overall Excellence Award given in the name of Prof Mohan Khokar, Ashish’s father and celebrated dance scholar, was presented to the multi-faced dancer Anita Ratnam, founder and managing editor of the dance portal www.narthaki.com; Guru Banumathi was bestowed with Uday Shankar Choreography Award; veteran nattuvanar and choreographer C Radhakrishna was awarded the Rukmini Devi Significant Contribution Award in the field of dance. Veteran theatre activist Vimala Rangachar was honoured with the Maya Rao Lifetime Achievement Award. Former bureaucrat Chiranjivi Singh did the honours. A brief film on each of the awardees was also shown.
Aniruddha Bala was effortless in his presentation of a few abhinaya pieces. Underscoring the beauty of vilamba kaala or slow pace, he could bring out the nuances of the inherent emotions of the compositions. It was interesting to note that he kept intact the vaachika abhinaya. The satwika was at his best.
Backed up by a live music support imparted by Girish, Jayashankar, Murthy and Babaprasad, a sort of grace made the songs his own. Not surprisingly, he always moved with polish and precision in a display of elegant athleticism.
He rendered the alarippu with profundity. Reminding me of his grandmother Bala, the Bhairavi pada was delineated extempore. Another Tamil pada followed in the same manner. The compositions had a wide expressive range performed with the graceful flow of classical dance. The choreography was strikingly original and the music was tuneful and vital.