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Aishwarya Nityananda's Bharatanatyam recital was visual poetry

July 20, 2016

Disciple of Guru Radha Sridar, Aishwarya Nityananda from Bangalore performed at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi. She choreographed a special thematic program 'Leela Mohana Krishna' centring round Krishna's multiple personalities as a god child, prankster, a model lover, hero and Supreme Being. Krishna's various leelas were portrayed through compositions soaked in love and devotion.

Though she is petite, Aishwarya is blessed with a svelte figure and mobile visage. She has a winsome personality. Whatever she chose to perform, she distinctly showed that she was enjoying it. Her frame was lit up with that feeling. Opening with well known Annamacharya's kriti Bhavayami Gopalabalam in Yaman Kalyani raga and khanda chapu tala, made popular by Subbbulakshmi, Aishwarya highlighted the devotional aspect wherein the poet says that even Brahma and other gods worship the feet of Lord Venkateswara on the hill of Tirupati. The iconic image of the lord was evocative.

Selecting from Sri Krishnakarnamritam of poet Lilashuka and weaving around the story of Krishna's birth to encouraging Arjuna to fight in the battle, the gamut of events were enacted with telling abhinaya, communicating various bhavas, registering them on her face in an effortless manner. The narration of Krishna's birth in jail, Vasudeva's taking him to Gokul, his growing up, killing demoness Putana, demon Shakatasura, lifting mount Govardhana etc., had interesting interlude of Gopis bathing in water. It was a sheer delight to watch the play of emotions reflected in her abhinaya with such delicacy of nuances. When Krishna steals clothes of Gopis when they are bathing and demands that they come out and bow to him, the expressions of embarrassment and then after obeying him quickly putting on the clothes, the Gopis make it very clear to Krishna that they were not amused. The familiar story with such quicksilver expressions and enacting two different roles of Krishna and various Gopis showed Aishwarya's command over abhinaya. The communication was flawless.

Krishna as Parthasarathi, charioteer of Arjuna, was suggested with minimal hastabhinaya, drawing an arrow. Commendable was Aishwarya's ability to convey through movement the content further enhanced by the melodious music. Krishnakarnamritam shlokas are replete with suggestions and were handled with deep understanding. Set to Reetigowla raga and adi tala, the number was woven in mould of a varnam alternating with sparkling nritta. The utplavanas (jumps) and diagonal movements of the arms on either side embellished the geometry of the Bharatanatyam form.

Subbulakshmi's rendering of Pag ghunghuroo bandh Meera nachi re, sung by vocalist Srivatsa for Aishwarya, following the tune in which Subbulakshmi has sung, evoked memories of Subbulakshmi's playing the role of Meera in film of the same name. Performing it as a bhajan, Aishwarya displayed Meera's intense love for Krishna in face of her husband's attempts to poison her.

The finale to Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer's Kalinga Nartana titled Krishna Tandava in Gambhira Nata raga and adi tala was interspersed with excellent onomatopoetic words for dancing and fleeting expressions enacting the story of how Lord Krishna vanquished serpent Kaliya who had poisoned river Yamuna. Usha RK compered the show with her usual flair. Aishwarya was in her element performing it. Her dance was like a visual poetry.

Dr. Sunil Kothari is a dance historian, scholar, author and critic. He is honored with Padma Shri, Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Senior Critic Award from Dance Critics Association, NYC.

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