Effulgent ‘Soorya’ shines in Bangalore
- Jyothi Raghuram   
e-mail: jyothi.r.ram@gmail.com

September 27, 2013

One no longer bemoans the lives of youngsters being hijacked by electronic media and gadgets. The march of technology is inexorable. Yet there are those valiantly fighting these incursions via propping up traditional performing arts. Imagine one zealot holding a worthwhile show every day of the year, in different parts of the country, as a commitment to art, artistes, and viewers - indeed a meaningful service to society. Bangalore opened up to the third year of the Soorya festival recently, with an utterly charming Bharatanatyam recital by Lakshmi Gopalaswamy. 

Soorya Krishnamoorthy has made it his life’s mission to keep alive the traditional performing arts of India, and his organization Soorya due to which popularity Krishnamoorthy gets his prefix too, is serving art in selfless fashion, even beyond the frontiers of the country. Lakshmi herself has had a close relationship with Soorya, having danced for it on earlier occasions. One calls her a delightful dancer simply because she forgets that she is on stage and before an audience, and just revels in her dance. She is one of the very few dancers who exults in her dance.  Isn’t this a basic pre-requisite to make any recital worthwhile? Else, it would be soulless - a singular reason why so many classical dance recitals are a drag.

Lakshmi Gopalaswamy
Lakshmi’s irreproachable sense of rhythm and easy flow of expressions were highlighted in the Bhairavi varnam, “Velanai vara solladi.”  Yet her aradis were almost imperceptible, depriving the teermaanams of their flourish.  Lakshmi’s spontaneity and her ability to slip into characterizations in mercurial fashion shone in a javali and a Kanakadasa pada, the contrasting yearnings of romantic love and devotional appeal portrayed with unbelievable naturalness.

She transformed herself into a nubile nayika who rebukes her lover in the Poorvi Kalyani javali “Nee Maata Leymaayenura” while yet hankering for him. In the pada “Baaro Krishnaiyya” (Maand), she was a devotee of Krishna, lost in abundant love for him. In both, Krishna was the object of love albeit differently, but the depth and passionate desire for the Lord was etched in remarkably distinct fashion. In Lakshmi, sringara assumes a dignified yet seductive form, and devotion is an entity apart, although generic to the sum and substance of Bharatanatyam. It was these nuances that held up the sobriety of the show - a most effervescent and ethereal one at that. Lakshmi looked fetching in her red and green costume, although her aaharya was otherwise a little too simple.

The team work of the experienced accompanists Bharathi Venugopal (vocal), Praveen Kumar (nattuvangam), Gurumurthy (mridangam), and Dayakar (violin) was a plus.  Dayakar’s tonal pattern and quality gave the musical support an obvious edge.

Soorya drew on talent
The rare Mayura Alarippu, with its Mayura hasta and simulating the movements of the peacock, especially its “coquettish” neck movements, matched by an equally jerky gait, was the starting point of Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan’s technically admirable show at the Soorya Festival. Slender and neatly costumed, it was her fine lines and neatness that were the defining features of her chiseled recital. 

Just three pieces - a dasa pada, “Saddu Maadabedavo” (Kalyani), Arunachala Kavirayar’s  “Yeppadi Manam” (Husseni) and “Murali Naad Sunaaye,” a piece from Surdas, imprinted Rama’s creativity, with no lapses in her facials. Yet there seemed a gap in communication, her abhinaya failing to make a vivid impression or impact. One has always wondered why such a shortcoming occurs despite the right expressions falling into place. One surefire way of reaching out to the viewer is by getting into the skin of the character, so to say. Here, Rama appeared to be more “technically correct” than deeply feeling one with her dance.

Tandava, the all-male dance troupe of Bangalore personified what its name suggests, vibrancy and energy in all the four young male dancers - Somashekar C, Srinivasan, Karthik S Datar, and Ananth B N. Interesting dance compositions and their tidy execution on stage made these palpably enthusiastic dancers a worthwhile watch. They were a riveting foursome not because they only went around displaying their strength in rigorous footwork - that, plus much more made their show a vibrant affair. Thyagaraja’s soothing “Naada Tanumanisham” (Chittaranjani) and “Sutra,” with its variations in laya and incorporation of karanas, were the highlights of their outing, which also displayed an equilibrium in the group show in terms of visibility of each dancer, as also team work.  Yes, if their abhinaya can be a little more defined, their dance will be a well rounded affair.

Tandava ensemble

Rani Khanam

Rani Khanam, the sole Kathak dancer at the festival, was as singularly remarkable on stage for her fluidity, sophisticated facials and grace. Although fleet-footed, her footwork was full of strength, as evidenced in her elaborate presentation, with its complex rhythmic patterns. Rani is a dancer who can not only motivate other Kathak dancers, but one who is able to easily connect with her audience. Special thanks to Soorya for bringing Rani to Bangalore.

One deliberately used the word “valiantly” at the beginning of this write-up, while mentioning the efforts of Soorya Krishnamoorthy in bringing art to one’s doorstep, so to say. The audience turn-up for the festival was poor, especially considering that it was a choice selection of dancers and musicians. The festival was held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore.

Jyothi Raghuram is a journalist with over two decades experience in both the print and electronic media, having worked with news organizations such as PTI, The Hindu and Indian Express. Her specialized writings on the performing and visual arts have been considered as benchmarks for their comprehensive and in-depth dealing of the subjects.