CHENNAI: The state of affairs in the Indian art, specifically in dance has changed enormously. While most of the purists claim that it is they who preserve the pristine purity of the classical dance’s tradition and progress, the modern generation has completely different and dynamic views regarding tradition and progress. They believe that in classical dance there is a tendency for stagnation and repetition, with no scope for fresh ideas. Therefore, a stage has now come where there is a general conflict of interest between tradition-bound purists and tradition-bound innovators.
The purists always maintain that in classical dance, it was their ancestors who had created the best and the finest masterpieces. As a result, they feel that there is no scope for any modern enthusiasts to better them. On the other hand, the innovators strongly believe that even in a tradition-bound art, there is scope for variety, unbound richness and unique nuances.
Viewing ‘Marabu’ presented by Parashah, an amalgam of four leading dancers — Roja Kannan, Priya Murle, Srikanth and Aswathy, the alchemists of art fragrance of tradition, all of them recipient of several awards and accolades, we can ascertain that as dancers, they reach out to the audience, express themselves and be a part of the dynamic existence. Parashah, which in Sanskrit means ‘the alchemist’s stone’, touched the lives of rasikas exactly like that stone. One can definitely say that famed dancer Roja Kannan is indeed a worthy inheritor of the teaching tradition of dance gurus Adyar K Lakshman and Kalanidhi Narayanan.
Priya Murle, a senior disciple of dance maestro Sudharani Raghupathy, says “We belong to a generation of broad-minded generalists who, within the framework of classicism make earnest attempts to introduce new ideas openly.” Aswathy and Srikanth, the noted dance couple, are the worthy inheritors of the teaching and tradition advanced by Kalamandalam Saraswathy.“A happy blend of tradition and a spirit of innovation will go a long way in increasing the wealth of our modern dance art,” they say.
Coming back to the performance. The interesting team work with the orchestra led by Sasirekha Balasubramanian (nattuvangam) and Srikanth Gopalakrishnan (vocal) was very evident, particularly in the thillana, in raga brindavana saranga. The complicated rhythmical one patterns were juxtaposed with the banis varied, keeping the tradition intact reaching a crescendo, captivating the audience.
Earlier, the ashta ragamalika Nithyakalyani in the varnam format composed by Seetharamadasar was exhilarating.
The imagery created by the movements of the body, symbolising the awakening of the goddess in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple was breathtaking, the padam (in varali) highlighting the broken promises of Nayaka and the javali (in khamas raga) portraying the anger exhibited, for the late arrival of the Nayaka were executed with great skill and elegance, imparting a spontaneity to the characters.
One only wishes that the team endeavours to present such tradition bound programmes abroad, in order to bring in a realisation that traditional bharathanatyam is a progressive vista of the creative artistes, thereby depicting the panorama of our culture.