T. Reddi Lakshmi’s delectable Kuchipudi recital
- Dr. Sunil Kothari
e-mail: sunilkothari1933@gmail.com

June 9, 2013

At Delhi’s India Habitat Centre on 3rd June, young, up and coming dancer T.Reddi Lakshmi, a disciple of Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao, gave a delectable and scintillating performance of Kuchipudi. Within a year of her few performances, Lakshmi indeed seems to have ‘arrived’ with her hard work and the promise she had shown. 

She has a vivacious stage presence and projects herself in intelligent manner through the selected dance numbers which give her ample scope for her talent. The performance under review saw her in praise of Ardhanariswara, highlighting the feminine aspect of Parvati and vigorous aspect of Shiva. Not only were the decorative movements enticing but also the expressions matched the lasya (graceful) and tandva (forceful) elements succinctly.

The controlled, restrained, economical movements, soaked with feelings in javali depicting virahotkantitha nayika in separation saw Lakshmi in fine form. The absence of the lover through angkabhinaya, showing pain and helplessness, were a pleasure to watch.

The piece de resistance was the old traditional number Mandodari Sabdam, which evokes nostalgia. In early fifties, Indrani Rahman used to perform it with great charm. Lakshmi was full of youthful and seductive charm as Mandodari, who was cursed by a Gandharva to take form of a frog, and after the curse was over, she turned into a beauteous female. Passing through, Ravana saw her and fell for her and took her away to Lanka. The onomatopoetic sollus for frog, alternating recitation of Lankeshu vimalkomala for Ravana and Mandodari taking stances for each one, Lakshmi succeeded and the audience applauded her for her excellent abhinaya.

In another javali, a khandita nayika hurt by her truant lover’s arrogant behavior, walking with chest and head high, proud and vainglorious, tells her confidante how her lover has changed, because he is in company of another woman who has seduced him. As the offended and hurt nayika, Lakshmi brought to bear upon her abhinaya, subtle, interesting and poignant movements, which spoke volumes for her inner turmoil. She employs her eyes for netrabhinaya, acting through glances in a captivating manner. Her ability to register bhavas on her face is praiseworthy. Walking away in anger, the nayika shows off her prowess not wanting to meet the lover.

Tarangam  with ‘Nilamegha sarira’ refrain, weaving in episodes of Krishna eating earth, Yashoda admonishing him, Krishna stealing clothes when gopis were bathing and after they submit to him, only then returning the clothes, were danced with flair. The mock anger of gopi at Krishna’s demands was enjoyable. Performing on rim of a brass plate, Lakshmi danced in rhythm to the rendering of mnemonic syllables by Jayarama Rao and the mridangist. Dancing on brass plate is a de jure number in any Kuchipudi recital. Lakshmi did full justice to it performing it with élan.

K.Venkateswar for vocals, Rajat Prasanna for flute and that ace mridangam player Kesavan, with nattuvangam by Jayarama Rao all gave excellent support to Lakshmi. Vanashree Rao compered the performance with experience of a seasoned performer. Sanjay Dutta’s lighting was evocative. It was a measure of her success that the audience gave Lakshmi a standing ovation and complimented her. Lakshmi is sure to go places.

Dr. Sunil Kothari is a dance historian, scholar, author and a renowned dance critic. He is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter, based in New Delhi. He is honored by the President of India with Padma Shri, Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Senior Critic Award from Dance Critics Association, NYC. He is a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com, the roving critic for monthly magazine Sruti and is a contributing editor of Nartanam for the past 12 years.