Abhinaya workshop by Bragha Bessel
- Ramya Janakiraman
e-mail: ramyaj752@gmail.com

May 11, 2015
Come May, it is time for the annual abhinaya workshop by Guru Bragha Bessel organised by Nadam and Ananya. This is the seventh year in a row that they are organising this workshop. Every year, we see young and not so young, upcoming and seasoned dancers of Bangalore participate in large numbers in this weeklong workshop.

Humility personified, Bragha akka (as she is called) is one of the most sought after Bharatanatyam teachers both in India and abroad. She is well known for her mastery over abhinaya.  She has her own unique way of connecting instantly with her audiences and mesmerising them with the beauty of her expressions.

This year again, Bragha akka taught us two beautiful compositions. One was the extremely soulful ashtapadi, “Sakhi he.” In this, we learnt the importance of characterisation, the use of dialogues and how to emote according to the mood and pace of the composition. She taught us how to interpret a single line of sahityam in many different ways and sustain our abhinaya in this slow paced song.

The next number was a peppy humorous javali – Nee maatale maayanu raa - a complete contrast to the first number. Bragha akka’s abhinaya in this number and the humour with she explained every dialogue had the participants in splits.

She again spoke about the importance of characterisation here. She said, “Become the character you are portraying. Whether it is Krishna, Radha, a sakhi or just a nayika - make the character look real. Don’t fake.” She also emphasised on the importance of body language, while depicting multiple characters in a single number. Her demonstration of each line of the song had us awestruck. When she portrayed Radha, she looked just like a young beautiful girl in love and when she became Krishna, she made us feel that probably that is how Krishna must have been.

Her love for dance, in-depth knowledge about the subject and her warmth oozed in her every action. It was an eventful week of learning, observing and interacting with such an inspiring artist. She made every participant feel special and important by correcting each of us individually and appreciating us wholeheartedly when we got it right. She also spoke about the importance of learning from the guru directly and not from YouTube videos. It was an enriching experience and we eagerly await the next workshop with Bragha akka.

Ramya Janakiraman is a disciple of Kiran Subramanyam and Sandhya Kiran, Bangalore.