March 6, 2010
Kalabharathi, Visakhapatnam, is the cultural hub of the city of destiny, for the audience and artistes to come together to enjoy art. On the 4th of January 2010, Bharatanatyam dancer Divya Devaguptapu, a sishya of the Dhananjayans, presented Thyagaraja Bhagavad Anubhavam. Thyagaraja Aradhana Trust brought this performance on the eve of Thyagaraja Aradhana Mahotsavam.
What we normally get to see in the classical dance programs are dance dramas, arangetrams, or dance recitals with selected items. Divya presented a theme by way of bringing to the audience Thyagaraja compositions depicting the journey of the saint as she visualized it. Divya researched Saint Thyagaraja's compositions and placed them in three parts or three stages of the journey. The three parts thus constitute:
His total dedication and "yearning" for the Lord's acceptance, and
"Attainment" of the Lord's Divine Grace.
Todi" where "manas" was assigned to bring the Lord, Divya suggestively
incorporated Thyagaraja talking to his mind as he would to a sakhi by showing
one hand, and then guiding "manas" not to wander and stay focused in "sending
the message." As a Kuchipudi artiste, this reminded me of how Satyabhama
in the pravesa daru narrates to "lalana.." her plight through relevant
Her jatis were crisp and efficient. Quick changes in the phases from the energetic pace of the jatis to the intense expression of bhava (demanded by sahityam) showcased her talent as a dancer and choreographer. A very innovative approach - repeated depiction of Lord Rama as He resides in our mind, holding the bow and arrow, invoked bhakthi. This image would remain etched in one's mind even after the program. A notable feature of the artiste was her expressive reach of eyes that connected her to even those sitting in the back rows in the hall.
Divya created space to show her versatility by the interpretation of "Chani Todi" from "bhakthi" to "romantic mission." Taking a cue from the pallavi that reads like a Padam, she explores the theme by engaging manas as the sakhi; a messenger to the beloved. The connotations of Madhura Bhakthi proved an ideal opportunity to show her mettle.
Divya in her
portrayal transcends, becomes the Saint himself, to attain Lord Rama, in
"Ninnu baasi ara nimisha morva nura." (Without you, cannot tolerate
for even a fraction of a second). To me, this proved to be the highlight
of her performance. It is at this stage that Divya, Saint Thyagaraja, the
audience in the hall all became "One" - Sohamanidhi Chalu.
B Venkat, a student of Bala Kondala Rao, is a Kuchipudi dancer in the Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam style.