Prakruti Dhwani by Anantara
- Padma Jayaraj
August 15, 2016
For Vimmy B Eswar and group of Anantara Music and Dance Institution based in Dubai, it was a homecoming in many ways. The artist and her students are Indians brought up in the Middle East. In alien surroundings, they strive hard to keep up their traditions and values. And they are proud to showcase their work to their motherland. Besides, it was vacation spent interacting and learning from maestros at home.
Prakruti Dhwani 2016 is a Kuchipudi dance recital by Vimmy and her group of 15 students staged in three venues (Guruvayoor, Thrissur and in Kerala Kalamandalam) in the first week of August. Sangeeta Nataka Akademi hall saw a motley crowd of south Indian audience, something unusual in Thrissur. And the dance sequel unfolded in traditional format of Kuchipudi, something unique in today’s experiments and innovations.
Vimmy had her schooling in the Middle East, but followed her passion by learning the Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam style of Kuchipudi dance. So, true to tradition, the recital began with the traditional Kauthwam, a sparkling group performance by Vimmy’s young students. It was followed by Brahmanjali in ragamalika and adi talam paying obeisance to the Trinity, to the gurus and to the audience, composed by Vempati Chinna Satyam, music by Bujanguru Sarma.
Balagopala Tharangam, a Kuchipudi solo piece celebrates the childhood of Krishna. Her dancing on the plate showed the ease with which Vimmy explores its signature style. Composed by Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam, the dance highlighted the theme of devotion: the devotion of a mother to the child, the devotion of a devotee to her god. A reiterated theme, the dance stressed more of Yasoda’s travails than the pranks of child Krishna, robbed some of its eternal charm. The characteristic body movements that differentiate Kuchipudi from other forms, especially Bharatanatyam, seemed a little blurred.
Sree Krishna Thulabharam was a group performance in which the entire cast participated showcasing the dramatic aspect of Kuchipudi. Choreographed by Vimmy, the recital was in tune with devotion in its larger context. Bhama Kalapam is integral to Kuchipudi. Here Satyabhama, instigated by Narada is out to prove her love for Lord Krishna. But love is something that transcends the material is what Satyabhama learns. Against a colorful dance panorama the visuals flitted past narrating the story of arrogance, doubt, failure and final conviction after defeat. The enigmatic smile on Krishna’s face seated on a slanting balance, the symbol of justice since mythical times, Rukmini doing her puja untouched by what goes around, Narada enjoying the confusion and humiliation of Satyabhama remain memorable. The young students radiated beauty in creating the backdrop. The dancers painted a setting animated with plants bearing flowers, animals and birds glowing in a natural ambience for a drama of lofty justice far removed from human grasp. One leaf of thulasi that Rukmini gives from her offerings is priceless than all the riches that Satyabhama heaps for the needle of the balance to tilt is a revelation for what bhakti means.
The accompanying artistes Reshmi Pradeep (vocal), Aparna K. Sarma (nattuvangam), Rajeev Gopal (mridangam), Kollam T.R. Sreejit (violin) and Rajesh Kallekulangara (flute) added to the chemistry to make it a charming dance concert.
Anantara is an institution just a little more than a year old. The meaning of the word suggests continuity. Teaching the basics by going to the traditional roots, Vimmy believes will help the students to enroll anywhere else if they have to move to other parts of the world. Of course, it is in its nascent stage taking tottering steps and there are miles to go. While we living in India take our classical dance forms for granted, it is a revelation to know how much people away from the shores of the subcontinent miss and what price they are willing to give by spending money and effort to conserve and uphold the Indian cultural ethos.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer on the arts. She is a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com