A nayak dancer to watch over and over
- Shveta Arora
e-mail: shwetananoop@gmail.com   
Pics: Anoop Arora

May 19, 2016

It was an evening of dance organized by the IHC for promoting young dancers in Delhi, but the turnout seemed unfair to Bharatanatyam dancer Pavitra Bhat, disciple of gurus Deepak Mazumdar and Anita Guha The ceremonial lamp was lit by senior critic Leela Venkataraman. 

He began the evening’s performance with a pushpanjali to Lord Nataraja - a melaprapti with Konnakol verse. This was followed by an alarippu in khanda chapu, a composition by Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi. It was an ode to Lord Ganesha, “Vighnarajam bhaje.” Pavitra depicted Ganesha as the son of Shiva, with a trunk and elephant ears, his steed the mouse.

The varnam “Shri Krishna Kamalanatho” (Reethigowla, adi) elaborated on the leelas of Krishna from his birth to the Gita upadesh. Pavitra started the tale from when Vasudeva and Devaki are taken prisoners by Kamsa. When they see the chaturbhuj form of Krishna, their shackles are broken and the gates of the prison open. Baby Krishna is carried by Vasudeva on his head in torrential rains, covered by the hood of Shesha. In the skillfully depicted Pootana episode, she lifts baby Krishna from his cradle and tries to feed him poison, but is killed by the little one. Krishna was depicted as one with the glow of thousands of suns (suryakoti samaprabha). The story of Govardhan puja showed Krishna saving the people and cows of Vraj from the wrath of Indra, who sends torrential rains to drown them, by lifting the mountain on his little finger. Krishna then vanquishes the serpent Kaliya and dances on its hood holding its tail. And finally, a disheartened Arjuna is enlightened and shown the path of righteousness by Krishna, who is also his charioteer. It was a long composition and Pavitra executed it with immense stamina. He ended the performance with a thillana (Brindavana Saranga, adi), an ode to Lord Krishna, depicting leelas like jhoolan on the shores of the Yamuna.

Pavitra Bhat performed with great poise, grace and energy. The footwork was quick with many leaps - he would come right to the front of the stage and you could hear the exactitude of the footwork on the mic. His hastas again had a perfection and sharpness of movement. The interpretative dance had good mukhabhinaya, stances and gestures were adept.

In between these pieces, he also did a shringara padam set to Senchurti, mishra chapu talam, a composition by Balamuralikrishna. It was a rare padam by the hero. The nayak tells the nayika that she should not make an excuse and go away on that night. He gathers lotuses and makes a bed for her, and shows her the bee hovering over a flower. In his passion, he embraces her and finally, she consents. That a dancer with so much energy in his nritta could infuse so much emotion and sensuousness into a piece was amazing. The performance brimmed over with an abundance of talent.

Shveta Arora is a blogger based in Delhi. She writes about cultural events in the capital.