Krishna Leelarnavam in Melbourne
- Nalini Priyadharshini

November 20, 2016

Adyar K Lakshman’s Bharatha Choodamani Australia, staged a dance drama in Melbourne on 9 October. The lyrics in Tamil by the poet Kavi Kannan (R K Murthy) of Chennai as an abridged rendering of Krishna Leelarnavam resonated well with a chiefly Tamil speaking audience. Kavi Kannan’s service to the Tamils of Melbourne is in this respect similar perhaps to the access given several centuries ago to Valmiki’s great work in Sanskrit.

Dance dramas by any school of dance inevitably include dancers at various stages of maturity in their art. The artistic director, Narmatha Ravichandhira of Bharatha Choodamani Australia deserves credit for the judicious casting of characters that enabled the several artists to interpret and perform the emotions realistically with elegance and restraint. A noteworthy feature of the performance was the seamless transition between scenes with the aid of slides used to illustrate the story lines.  Narmatha’s choice of ragas namely Brindavanasaranga, Durga, Bowli, Revathi, Neelambari, Desh, Kathanakutookalam, Punnagavarali, Behag, Kaanada, Rasikapriya, Sahana, Chakravaham; her composition of tunes and choreography were striking by the harmony between the music and the emotions in each episode.

Equally impressive and pleasing was the konnakkol and the jathis throughout the recital especially those for the Kalingan (snake) and Krishna dance, Hamsan-Krishna fighting scene and the Kurukshetra war scene. The escalating arrangement of jathis played by Ravichandhira in the Draupathi Vasthiraharanam was particularly impressive being an adaptation, I understand, for this purpose from a composition by Guru Karaikkudi Mani.  The melodic part of the whole recital was enriched by the sustained mellifluous support on the mandolin by U. Nagamani of India besides Narmatha who herself rendered the vocals as well as the nattuvangam, like her Guru Lakshman.

The polished performances of Narmatha’s senior most students namely Prashanthini, Vithiya, Meena, Manoshy, Shivani and Anishya and sub-senior students Varshini, Akshara, Vaishali, Aarthi, Krishny and Roobini were marked by maturity of skill and their captivating presence on stage. Sai-Sarangan and Sai-Nivaeithan along with their father M Ravichandhira, provided effective percussion support to the changing pace on stage.  Kasthuri and Maiyuren were impressive in providing effects with the key board and violin respectively.