Ramya Ramnarayan’s tribute to her Guru SK Rajaratnam Pillai
- Usha Rk
e-mail: simplyushark@gmail.com 

March 19, 2015

Setting a bar that can raise the level of consciousness through an extremely subtle and sublime Bharatanatyam performance was probably the USP of Ramya Ramnarayan’s recent performance in Bangalore for the NRI festival of the World Dance Alliance Bangalore Chapter.

Post the mid-30’s, a dancer needs to move out of exacting grammar and the efforts on the body towards content and connect. While it's important to keep the body trim and flexible, maintain the grammar at its perfect best it is imperative to take the content and rendition to another level to be able to connect with the rasika and get the rasika in turn to receive that experience that moves them and remains with them forever.

I must say that in this direction, some senior dancers who are performing extensively in the global space have managed to take some strides. Ramya is certainly one of them. Her combination of a well kept body, expressions that were just optimal and of course her pure dance portions that were light yet firm, made this performance strike that note with the Bangalore audiences. This was a tribute to her Guru S K Rajaratnam Pillai and she used a recording in which Vadhyar sang and did the nattuvangam, bringing back many memories of his vibrant and commanding conducting.

After the perfunctory Pushpanjali in ragam Nattai and adi talam which also included a virutham from the Periyapuranam, Ramya went into the Khamas varnam “Ma Mohalahiri Meerude,” a pada varnam, a striking composition of Kadigai Namachivaaya Pulavar. The jathi patterns were traditional and the abhinaya choreographies were also exactly what her guru has composed. The pace was appreciably vilambit giving the dancer sufficient time to complete the movements and also ‘stay’ in the expression. Ramya used her limbs very well creating a clear and expansive texture to her nritta. If Bharatanatyam is known for its being suggestive and subtle Ramya has taken this aspect seriously. Without overdoing the facial expressions and wringing the body tumultuously, she conveyed the Moham and Viraham effectively in the pallavi and anupallavi.  The nayika is depicted in the clichéd viraha state as unable to eat, sleep, drink, play the veena, rest on the bed, etc. She then prepares herself and her surroundings to receive Lord Muruga, trying to send a message through a parrot but in vain.  She calls her sakhi to send a quick note to her lover but it’s futile and finally she decides to go on her own but fear and inhibition stops her. This was probably the turning point. The charanam Oh ho ho mane en nirasai sugam madi adavar uravu sadama ennuvadu besaigathi accelerated the pace and gave the rendition a heightened finish. ‘Even though I am the most beautiful girl he has ruthlessly rejected my embrace, may be due to tricks played by someone which has caused this much delay in his presence, and even the tactful antics by cupid is pointless, only time can answer this question.’

The two abhinaya pieces “Chudare” and “Parulanamata” though seen a million times, still have the ability to keep you glued to the dancer and seat, if performed with maturity. Ramya breezed through both the items adeptly and one could see the Kalanidhi Maami style so evidently. Sometimes, Maami's style one feels is appropriate for a chamber concert or a small venue with a close audience; on the proscenium stage with an audience of nearly 300 people, the subtleties are lost. Here the dancer needs to meliorate the expressions for them to reach every member of the audience. Ramya must bear this in mind for a next time, along with her choice of colours for the costume; with the cyclorama washed in blue the costume looked dull.

The World Dance Alliance led by Guru Veena Murthy Vijay and an able set of young dancers as part of the organising team organised this NRI dance festival.

Usha RK is a writer and Arts Consultant.