A mixed bag of good music and excellent dance

November 7, 2016

A full complement of orchestra consisting of veena by Jayalakshmi Sekhar, violin by Rijesh  Gopalakrishnan, flute by Sruti Sagar, mridangam by Shivaprasad and vocal by Jyothishmathi Sheejith, controlled and conducted by none other than Shanta Dhananjayan who wielded the cymbals brilliantly, was distractingly melodious with good coordination between them. Sangeetha Balasingam did justice to the ensemble's caliber on 16th October 2016 at the Music Academy under the aegis of Bharatakalanjali.  

Starting with “Gajavadana karuna sadana" in Sriranjini (a composition of Papanasam Sivan) set to dance by Gopukiran (senior alumni of Bharatakalanjali), the various facets of Lord Ganesha were beautifully portrayed by the artist which gave a good start to the recital. Sangeetha immediately took up the central piece Nruthyopahaaram (varnam), "Ninne nera nammi naanura" in Ataana ragam on Lord Krishna, a padavarnam composed by Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma. This is a time tested piece de resistance, an iconic item of the Dhananjayans. Without any explanations the exposition unfolded the stories of Srikrishna leela with ease and punctuated with measured jathis or teermanams and swarakkorvais interwoven with communicative gestures delineating Krishna's pranks and precepts. The episodes of lord Krishna were beautifully essayed by Sangeetha and the jathis choreographed by the Dhananjayans were executed with immaculate precision by the artist, which elicited repeated applause from the audience.

The mel kala jathi in the charanam "Chinni Krishna rara nanu palimpa" performed by Sangeetha was a delight to watch. Krishna eating the sand and Yashoda admonishing the child, asking him to open his mouth, where she finds the entire universe, was very convincingly portrayed by the dancer. One was reminded of the famous icon Balasaraswati portraying the scene in "Krishna nee begane" with the line "Jagadodharaka namma Udupi Sri Krishna" which was immortalized by the queen of abhinaya. Of course this is not to compare any other dancer with the icon Bala, but only to draw attention to the similarity in Krishna opening his mouth and showing the entire universe to Yashodha. Sangeetha’s solid foundation in Bharatakalanjali style from T. Unnikrishnan and Pushkala Gopal in London enabled her to sail through this long item with aplomb. The araimandi poses and delectable thattu mettus with perfect anga suddha and adavu suddha are a great asset to Sangeetha.

The Neelambari Malayala padam penned and composed by Dhananjayan, “Ennu varum en kanthan” depicts a different kind of nayika with an infant in hand, anguished in loneliness and imagines what could have befallen her husband in traversing through a thick forest infested with wild animals. Sangeetha could not really do full justice to the padam laden with deep emotional maturity. Singing the padam, Jyothishmathi also was not quite comfortable in bringing out the bhava of the raga. However, the next javali “Sarika kunku musukoothani thovadu saigajesinathi kandine" with Kalakshetra stamp repertoire came alive in Sangeetha’s face with mischievous Krishna stealing butter and Radha beckoning him hiding behind her veil.  In this javali, the heroine tells her friend that she has seen how the friend was trying to attract the attention of Krishna by her coquetry. In the second half of the javali the stories of Krishna trying to steal and eat the butter were all depicted beautifully by Sangeetha and this item drew a lot of appreciation from the audience. Sangeetha concluded the recital with a lilting ‘Nrutta angahaaram' (popularly known as thillana) in Brindavini by Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, choreographed by Gopukiran where Sangeetha's nritta and nritya came to the forefront.

With her overall training and passion besides studying Medicine, Sangeetha, a senior disciple of the Dhananjayans, has very good potential to nurture her talent to be a front ranking Bharatanatyam artiste. In fact, Sangeetha who has already carved out a niche in the field, has won several awards and accolades and has also danced before Her Majesty, the Queen of England. With her excellent stage presence, she is an artist to be watched in the years to come.