'Nayaki...a poetic journey'
Like the fingertip of God meeting that of Adam’s on the Sistine Chapel, the stage of The Sorenson Theatre was transformed to a meeting point of heaven and earth.
On July 14, 2007, lovers of Indian classical dance were fortunate to witness the premier performance of 'Nayaki'...a poetic journey.' This traditional solo Bharatanatyam performance by renowned artist Jothi Raghavan was spellbinding in its intricacy as well as its simplicity.
’Nayaki' is based on the intense, beautiful, love poems which the saint poet Thirumangai Alwar composed for his God Vishnu. Alwar means one who is "immersed" in the experience of God, the omnipresent mysterious one. Thirumangai Alwar is the last of the 12 Alwars who lived in south India somewhere between the fifth and ninth centuries of the first millennium. Parakala Nayaki, the lovelorn maiden is the persona assumed by Thirumangai Alwar to express his love and longing for his beloved Lord Narayana...It forms the core of Nayaki - the dance production - a poetic journey.
After much research, here and abroad, faith and cumulative tradition were beautifully brought to life. The research help and inspiration came from the lectures of Vellukkudi Krishnan Swamy of Chennai, India.
The dance concert was marvelous with the full complement of highly trained musicians.
The interplay of vocalist G Srikanth and violinist Mysore Srikanth was rich and full, supporting, not detracting from the dance performance. The command of, and versatility with, the mridangam of B Ravishankar was amazing. V K Raman playing flute and Revathi Ramaswamy playing veena completed this accomplished ensemble. Ranging from profoundly simple to richly intricate, the devotional music was composed by Rajkumar Bharathi.
The passionate verses of Thirumangai Alwar chosen for the performance portraying the agony and ecstasy of Parakala Nayaki were beautifully read out prior to each of the four acts.
As Parakala Nayaki, Jothi Raghavan's extensive training and consummate skills as a Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, were exemplified, enchanting the audience. The beauty, elegance, grace and precision of her command of nritta, belied the strength necessary for such a demanding role. Perhaps more impressive and pleasing was her display of nritya. Each of the four parts of the presentation was captivatingly expressive of the chosen verse.
The fourth and concluding verse, a thillana, was the most remarkable. That joyous dance ended with a verse from 'Peria Thirumozhi,' Thirumangai Alwar's first work: "When I call you, Lord and Master, others call me 'Mad, Mad!' O pearls, O emerald gem! O Growing seed! How can I ever let you go?" Most remarkable, because for that dance, Jothi Raghavan, portraying Parakala Nayaki, seemed like a different person than the one who performed the previous three verses. Like a transformation had become complete.
The riveting solo performance of Jothi Raghavan, coupled with excellent musicians allowed the audience to participate in this transcendent immersion for the evening. The atmosphere of the lobby of the Sorenson Theater for Performing Arts, Babson College, Wellesley MA prior to the performance was one of eager anticipation. After, the mood of the patrons was notably uplifted. The lobby was buzzing with the telltale excitement and talking among friends as well as strangers present after the amazing performance.