Rama Vaidyanathan and Navia Natarajan sparkle at Rasa Sanje  
- P Sivakumar & Lakshmi Basavaraju 
e-mail: spandithar@yahoo.com 

January 20, 2009 
 
It was a sparkling and perfect rendition of classical Bharatanatyam by renowned exponent Rama Vaidyanathan on January 2, 2009 at the Rasa Sanje festival organized by Venkatesha Natya Mandir, Bangalore. With ease, this seasoned artist sculpted a traditionally woven evening of dance, blending ingredients of sheer hard work and love for the art.  

Rama commenced her performance with an Ata taalam Alaripu, based on 14 beats. With sublime flow of movements, use of stage space, complementing the jatis with beautiful nritta, Rama performed this opening piece with elegance. Her symmetrical hand gestures were a delight. 

Rama presented the Varnam, "Mohamaagiren indha velayil" based on the composition of Dandayudapani Pillai set to Karaharapriya raga, Adi talam. This Varnam was a journey of the nayika's longing for Lord Shiva, the striking of the cupid's arrows, and the effects of the various seasons. As Shiva blessed the sages who did penance to him, with his Ananda Tandava, the nayika contemplates to do penance and win over the lord. The varnam in varied phases of the nayika, from a confident person into one, who is still unsure about the nayaka's love, gave a good account of the dancer's capabilities. Rama's portrayal of the lovelorn nayika to her depiction at the end of the varnam as an uncertain nayika was remarkable. The Ananda Tandava of Lord Shiva was performed with good energy.  

The Jatis of this varnam were by Karaikudi Shivakumar and Rama matched the immaculate jatis with brilliance. Another high point was Rama's beautiful postures at various levels of the jatis and holding her postures comfortably. She was perfect in her nritya and nritta. 

The evening concluded with a Telugu bhajan "Momunchepura" set to Behag raga and Roopaka talam. This bhajan about Yashoda and Krishna consisted of the 3 stages when Yashoda confronted little Krishna and how she was mesmerized with his response. She simply called him "the butter thief" on one occasion. On the complaints of the gopikas that he had stolen their butter, she confronts him and is awestruck with the innocence in his eyes that he hadn't done that. Finally, when the children complain that Krishna has eaten mud, she is humbled to see the whole "Bramhanda" in his mouth, thereby realizing that he is the omnipotent lord. Rama danced the varied characters, swiftly transforming from Krishna who had stolen the butter into Yashoda who is admonishing him. The episodes of love and play between the mother and child were very well depicted. Also the final moment of realization by Yashoda about Lord Krishna was well presented. 

Rama Vaidyanathan was well supported by a brilliant orchestra: K Shivakumar nattuvangam, Valsarajan Niliyath vocal, G S Rajan flute, Sumod Sreedharan mridangam.  

Performing on January 4th evening at Rasa Sanje festival Parineeta, Navia Natarajan presented a wonderful Bharatanatyam recital, maintaining a high standard of presentation throughout the evening. Navia commenced the evening's recital with Pushpanjali composed by vocalist D Srivatsa set to raga Bhairavi, Roopaka talaam and followed it up with a sloka in praise of the Goddess Saraswati. The sloka was set to raga Khandajati Eka talam and choreographed by Navia.  
   
Swarajati, choreographed by A Lakshman Swamy, was the second item for the evening. "Mamoham thanae meerudhae" was based on the composition of Dandayudapani Pillai set to Natakurunji raga, Roopaka talam. This item presented the creativity of the artist in all aspects, nritya, nritta and abhinaya. The nayika is deeply in love with Lord Venkateshwara. Madana's arrow strikes her. She confronts her sakhi about the gamut of emotions she is facing and how she is unable to curtail her overwhelming love and longing for the lord. She feels her love should not meet the fate of other gopikas, where she says the lord is only stealing hearts and not responding to the love. She finally requests her sakhi to go and get her love; whatever he may be called by others, she loves him from the depth of her heart and his love is the only reason for her existence.  

The Swarajati saw Navia commencing with a steady pace, and moving into swift jatis. She portrayed the minutest situations as the nayika yearned for the lord. Her abhinaya was immaculate. In the in depth expressions of pain in her heart longing for the lord, as well as her expressions of joy, the gentleness of the nayika's character was very well expressed by the dancer. Jatis are wonderful to hear, and her wonderful nritta to these jatis was a treat to the eyes. The jatis for this item was composed by Prassana Kumar and Vijay Raghavan.  
   
Navia concluded with a Telugu javali "Yera ra ra" set to raga Khamas and Adi talam, choreographed by Bragha Bessel. This javali was about a nayika asking the lord to come to her. Situation between being unhappy about his absence, it gently enhanced into the nayika blooming in love. Navia's performance of this lasya filled javali and her prayer to the lord inviting him, was a delight to the rasikas. The vocal rendition by Srivatsa was soulful, with both dancer and vocalist complementing each other. This young dancer is full of promise for the times to come.  
   
Navia Natarajan was well supported by D Srivatsa on vocal, Mahesh Swami on flute, Prassana Kumar on nattuvangam and Srihari on mridangam.