Solo act has audience hooked
February 26, 2011
Alapana Arts, Singapore, organized 'Neythal-the Continental Shelf,' a thematic Bharatanatyam solo performance by Lavanya Raghuraman, an outstanding disciple of The Dhananjayans. The performance was held at Esplanade Theatre Studio on February 19, 2011. Lavanya performed to live music with a full orchestra. Alapana Arts' head and the famous Singapore musician, R Banumathy herself was on the veena providing pleasing musical support.
Lavanya is endowed with perfect rhythmic sense and imagination in translating the bhava of the lines into probing abhinaya. She had the needed stage presence and her repertoire included traditional numbers, all of them appropriate to the theme, ocean and coastal life. Opening the show with a traditional pushpanjali in Gambhira Nattai, Lavanya went for a complex Kaanal Vari Padal from the 2nd century Tamil epic, Silappathikaram. It described life in Poompuhar, a coastal city which was engulfed by the sea later. The visual description of the lamentation of the nayaka by Lavanya was moving. She performed this piece with ease posturing as both male and female with good effort as well as effect.
The Ashtapadi set to a dwiragamalika in Adi thalam had abundant scope to convert into assertive abhinaya and Lavanya did full justice in capturing the mood at every moment. Jayadeva wrote this to narrate the avatars of Lord Vishnu wherein the Matsya and Kurma avatars were taken for sanchari. True to the narration, the two avatars coincided with Darwin's theory of evolution, from Pisces to Amphibians and eventually to the quadruped mammals. Lavanya portrayed the change in moods well, of the churning of the ocean of milk to obtain nectar and while Shiva takes the alahal poison. The footwork and the jatis were impressively planned matching the superb choreography. The dance is symbolic of the creation of life, preservation of virtues and destruction of evil, eventually establishing the perpetuity of terrestrial life.
'Neythal Kali' from Kalithogai, a two millennia old composition set to beautiful tune enriched the item with glorious history with appropriate bhavam of a Virahot Khandita. It was an intelligent idea to have used a traditional Pann without losing the charm in presenting to the audience of current times. This can be said to be a pure abhinaya piece, presented well.
A contrast of mood was set in the next number, a unique African poem, read with emotional modulations by the emcee Divyapradha, for which Lavanya did the abhinaya. Usually, in such oral descriptions accompanied by the dancer's expressions, there will generally be a time lag between the two. It was probably well rehearsed, absolutely synchronized and in unison at every instance. It was a well thought of item, considering the presence of a substantial non-Indian audience. The folk tune on the instruments brought out a truly joyous fisherman dancing to his heart's content together with the hard earned catch of the day. Lavanya transformed herself into a tribal man instantly to suit the character.
Through the final item, a Nritangaharam (Thillana), Lavanya left an indelible mark of a class dancer. Her brisk footwork went in tandem with the percussion lifting the professional quality of the performance to commendable levels. After all, the choreography of her gurus, the Dhananjayans, was adding to the facility with which Lavanya handled the item comprising many twists to many traditional adavus. The audience was spellbound.
Popular artistes from Chennai, R Vanathy and V Vedakrishnan provided the voice and percussion support respectively. Besides Banumathy on the veena, talented teachers of Alapana arts, KG Lakshmi was on the nattuvangam and Gokulakrishna on the violin and flute. The well projected voice with balanced percussion and melodic support had a positive effect and the live presentation cast a spell through the performance. The music support was perfect, appropriate to the mood and pleasant.
Esplanade Theatre Studio is well equipped with a number of features, which is also responsible for enhancing the standard of the performance to a world class one - the acoustics, neat tones of each instrument with clarity, soothing lights to depict the scene to the desired effect. The venue also provides a cozy space at the entrance to the hall with artistic ambience for the members of the audience to meet the dancer, have post-performance discussions, convey words of praise and also to pose for photographs with the artist.
The undercurrent of emotions associated with Neythal is supposed to be 'lamentation' and as if doing justice to the title, the beholder laments that such a splendid performance was over too soon.
Ramapriya is the daughter of late Ramanujam of Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai.