National Young Dance Fest 2013
Text & pics: Hareesh N Nampoothiri

June 22, 2013

Rasikas of Thiruvananthapuram this time had one more reason to feel the sense of joy along with the much awaited monsoon rains, thanks to Kalabharathi Foundation for the three day long 'National Young Dance Fest 2013' which happened here in the first week of June. This was the third installment after the success of similar festivals in Thrissur and Kozhikode. The aim of the festival was to give a good platform to these budding young artistes as it featured a few of the noted upcoming talents from across the country.

The inaugural day of the event saw Mohiniattam by Rachana Narayanankutty and Bharatanatyam by Pavitra Krishna Bhat. Rachana started with a Vighneswara Sthuthi and moved on to presenting Kunthiviraham, a popular Padavarnam set in Hindolam and aadi tala. To some extent Rachana managed to bring the transformation of Kunthi from a lively girl to an agonized teenage mother. Next, she presented excerpts from Changampuzha's evergreen love poem 'Ramanan'. Though the poetic exchanges between Ramanan and Chandrika were enjoyable as a poem, it didn’t give much of a scope for the dancer to excel in her skills. Other than a few candid postures depicting Chandrika, there was nothing much in the offering. Maybe she could have used the time slot in a better way by choosing another padam. Rachana concluded her performance with a thillana praising Lord Padmanabha set in Thodi and in aadi talam. She was supported on vocal by Thrissur Janardhanan, mridangam by Thrissur Hariharan,  edakka by Thrissur Krishnakumar, flute by Savithri Raghunadan and veena by Thrissur Murali Krishna.

Rachana Narayanankutty

Pavitra Krishna Bhat

Pavitra Krishna Bhat came all the way from Mumbai and it seems did not have much time to spend with his accompanying artistes who were arranged locally. Though there were a few hitches in between, he managed it very well without it taking a toll. He started his performance with the popular Ganesha Sthuthi "Sri Vighnarajam Bhaje" followed by the traditional alarippu. After the invocation piece he moved on to varnam "Sri Krishna Kamalanatho"  set in Reethigowla and aadi tala. The varnam narrates the story from the birth of Krishna to Viswaroopadarsana at the time of Bhagavad Gita, briefly touching upon the childhood leelas of Krishna in between. Crisp and gripping narration of the death of Poothana itself shows the dancer's command over the dance form. Pavitra concluded his performance with a thillana praising Lord Krishna set in Brindabani Sarang. Guru Deepak Mazumdar's efforts in nattuvangam and the vocal support by Harirag Nandan contributed a lot to Pavitra's performance. Chenganasseri Satheesh Kumar on mridangam and Sreeraj Thrikkodithanam on violin were the other accompanying artistes.

The second day opened with an Odissi recital by Barkha Tanvir from New Delhi. She started with Rageshree Pallavi elaborated with graceful body postures and involute foot movements. "Na Jaa Jamuna," the abhinaya piece followed in which she portrayed the Gopikas trying to stop Radha from going to the banks of Jamuna where the mischievous Krishna stood waiting. The choreography set to a melodious rhythm created a joyful mood and what Barkha did on the stage was transferring that sense of joy to the audience. She concluded her recital with Mahakali Stuthi in which the various manifestations of Devi Durga was elaborated.

Barkha Tanvir

Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya

Swathi Thirunal's "Bhavaye Gopabalam" set in Pushpalathika and in roopaka tala was the invocation piece for Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya's Bharatanatyam performance. The lyrics synchronized with traditional alarippu and the choreography was by her guru Chitra Visweswaran. Even though the choreography part was fine, the overlap of vocalist rendering the lyrics and nattuvanar pronouncing the jathis simultaneously was not very pleasing to the ears. Then she moved on to the central piece of her recital, varnam composed by Lalgudi G Jayaraman set in Charukesi and in aadi tala. In this composition, the nayika asks Lord Krishna, “Is it fair to pretend that you do not understand my mind yet?” The varnam gives a lot of opportunities to the dancer to bring out various sancharis as nayika's reaction to an indifferent Krishna and Lakshmi made good use of it. Still, one would feel that crisp and precise movements while performing the adavus is where confidence exudes as far as Lakshmi's performance here is concerned. Swathi Thirunal’s composition "Kanakamayamayeedum" set in Husaini and roopaka tala was the concluding item of her performance.

Anjali Balan, the third performer of the day, seemed a bit tensed up at the beginning of her Mohiniattam recital. The Cholkettu set in Ragamalika and aadi tala went without making much of an impression. But, she made a breakthrough in her next item “Manjuthara Kunjathala,” an ashtapadi from Jayadeva's Gita Govindam. Music composed by the day's vocalist Bijeesh Krishna himself, the padam was set in Ragamalika and Talamalika. Gliding through various emotions of love, separation and lust, the ashtapadi is a challenge to any dancer. Anjali Balan was up to it and made it an emotionally touching experience for the audience. Thillana praising Lord Krishna set in Kalyanavasantam and aadi tala was the final item presented. Bijeesh Krishna's rendering along with Kalamandalam Charudutt's efforts on mridangam complemented the dancer throughout the presentation. Kalamandalam Akshara Bijeesh on nattuvangam, Murali Narayanan on flute, Murali Krishna on veena and Arundas on edakka were the other accompanying artistes.

Anjali Balan

Meera Sreenarayanan
The final day started with Meera Sreenarayanan's Bharatanatyam. Meera was at her best and one can easily conclude her recital as the pick of the festival. The way she utilized the space to make her movements, the energy she brought in her adavus, the charisma she created through her varying emotions; all together made her performance unique and unforgettable. She opened the evening with a Ganesa Sthuthi and traditional alarippu and moved on to the keerthanam “Thungatharange Gange” praising the Ganges set in Hamsadhvani and aadi tala. This piece was choreographed by her guru Nirmala Nagarajan, who was supporting her on nattuvangam. After another quick keerthanam praising Lord Shiva she moved on to the ashtapadi “Pashyati Dishi Dishi” set in Vasanthi and in misra chappu tala. The love-stricken state of Radha, as described by her sakhi to Sri Krishna being the theme, Meera proved that she can excel not only in nritta but in abhinaya as well. She concluded her performance with a thillana set in Hindolam and khanda eka tala. The same team of the previous day led by vocalist Bijeesh Krishna provided ample support for Meera's performance.

It was not a good day for Chandralekha from Chennai as her Kuchipudi recital turned out to be a less efficacious attempt. The lack of planning was clearly visible at certain points. Maybe the team could have done a bit more homework and presented a better package. Chandralekha started her performance with a Vighneswara Sthuthi praising Lord Ganesha. "Sivudu Thandavamadalu," Siva Sthuthi set in Ragamalika and aadi tala, choreographed by Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam followed. There is nothing wrong with the composition, but whether it fits in a one hour Kuchipudi recital is altogether a different issue. The long sloka sequences in the beginning of the composition took much of the time and made her rush through the rest of her recital. In the abhinaya piece “Jagadodharana,” she showed glimpses of talent enacting Yashoda's affection for Krishna and in the latter part portraying the death of Poothana. Balagopala Tharangam in Mohana followed which she failed to complete as the floor was not suitable for the movements on the plate and she quickly wrapped up her performance with the mangalam. She was accompanied by Dhanya Krishnakumar on nattuvangam, Kalamandalam Ratheesh on vocal, Arun on mridangam, Sarath on flute and Biju on violin.


Shuchismita Dutta

The concluding item of the evening as well as the festival was the Kathak recital by Shuchismita Dutta from Kolkata. Without live orchestra to support her, Shuchismita made an earnest effort to give a true taste of Kathak to the rasikas assembled. In the 30 minute crisp performance, she performed the Ganesa Vandana, an abhinaya piece and a Tarana set in three different beat cycles. Maybe with live orchestra and more time she could have made it more effective.

Earlier, the festival was inaugurated by CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Minister for Culture K.C. Joseph was present during the valedictory function.

Hareesh N Nampoothiri is a visual design consultant by profession and a lover of classical art forms. Being an ardent follower of Kathakali, he conceptualized and directed a documentary on Kathakali titled 'Thouryathrikam,' which introduces the nuances of Kathakali to the common man. Writing and photography are his other passions.