Sparkling performance with confidence 
- Bhavani Ravindran

November 17, 2016

I was quite taken aback by the performance of Sivadas Rajan who has accredited himself well within five years of his joining Bharata Kalanjali. A gurukulam method of learning definitely has its advantage and Sivadas utilized his free gurukulam training with The Dhananjayans fully to his advantage.

Bharata Kalanjali and Rajesh Fine Arts in association with Naada Inbam presented Sivadas Rajan in a solo Bharatanatyam performance at the Raga Sudha Hall, Chennai, on the 14th of November. A high quality musical support led by Shanta Dhananjayan, with new compositions and some original choreography led to a very interesting evening.  This dancer’s achievement of being able to hold audience attention as a soloist and present a Margam with confidence, energy and involvement, heralded the ascension of another nartaka with much promise, from this alumnus.
The program was organized to remember late Rajesh Balakrishnan, a rising star when he left for another world, and it was befitting that his birthday was commemorated with a presentation of Sivadas.  This performance was sponsored by Shiva Saroja Sangeeta Natya scholarship from the USA and the patron Dr. Anuradha Murali would have felt happy to see the fruition of the grant in this event.

Starting with an engaging Mallari leading into a Sankeerna Alarippu, he established his technical capabilities. Neat lines punctuated with light jumps and bhramaris and precision in the delivery of adavus made his nritta near perfection. A new sabdam on Madurai Meenakshi penned by Sivadas himself, and the expressive sections of the Nrityopaharam in Hamsadhwani on Kartikeya (by Jayamangala Rajalakshmi of Washington DC) brought out his histrionic capabilities, where he was able to project varied characters with conviction.  His flexible bodylines helped to articulate or emphasize the difference between the strong or soft through angika abhinaya. His eyes work effectively and one awaits his development of a deeper level of nuance through stillness of body.
The ‘Kal maari’ keetanam by Andavan Pichai on Lord Nataraja was danced with élan and displayed many facets as seen in iconography.  The ashtapadi “Kshanamadhuna” was portrayed sensitively with a sincere Krishna in view - no exaggeration in his affirmation of love or need, but an honest telling of emotions. The credit goes to Shobana Bhalchandra (a senior alumni of Bharata Kalanjali) for chiseling the nuance of purusha bhava –anubhava.  The Nrittangaharam based on a new tillana in Nalinakanti composed by Salin M Nair who was also the sonorous vocalist of the evening was interesting in its originality.  The words of Syamala Dandakam had been cleverly woven into the nine beat time cycle. The mathematical aspect in the choreography seemed to work in trite patterns without really exploring a different structure of khanda laghu and dhritam.
New lyrics should follow rules of prosody, not just for convention but also for the musicality of sound; rhythmic compositions in different talas should address the structural dimensions of the new tala; it should be an aesthetic and not an accounting delivery of time structures.  Young composers are to be encouraged but they would do well to be validated or mentored by the experienced. Ramesh Babu on the mridangam and Rijesh on the violin completed the ensemble, which provided lovely music for a lovely performance.