A treat in grace and elegance
- Akola Krishnan
e-mail: akolakrishnan@gmail.com

January 26, 2017
Ramya Ramnarayan’s dance program for Kartik Fine Arts, Chennai, on New Year’s eve was a treat in grace and elegance steeped in the renowned Vazhuvoor tradition. The performance opened with a gripping verse by Thiruppanazhwar, setting the tone for the evening to follow. In a few seconds, the audience was drawn into a mesmerizing vision of Kondal Vannan (Krishna), with his magnificent form suggestive of dark rain clouds. In the next few seconds, there was the endearing child swallowing butter with mischief dancing in his eyes. Ramya sculpted these images with deftness engaging the audience in the magnificence and the mischief of the lord.  The verse was followed by an alarippu interspersed with a Thirupalliezhuchi by Thondaradipodi Azhwar imploring the lord to wake up from his sleep.

The varnam was an intricately woven composition by Guru Dandayudhapani Pillai in nine different ragas. Varnam is often the vehicle to showcase the technical mastery of the artist. Ramya handled this complex piece well, never losing sight of the central goal of a dancer, which is to entertain, engage, and involve the audience. With expressive eyes and finely crafted abhinaya, she evoked the torments of love through emotions of yearning, longing and imploring of the Sakhi to fetch the lord. Ramya’s fit and slim figure lent a polished visual appeal to the cleanly executed rhythmic patterns and sharp mudras. The flawless rendering of the Vazhuvoor style was embellished with many creative moves in the varnam with Ramya flitting across the stage with graceful jumps, twirls and turns. The varnam sparkled with the glorious dance postures of Shiva, which were captured with firmness and precision, the many images of spring with the deer leaping across the stage, the bees buzzing about the blossoms and the peacock fanning out his plumage as he proudly strutted his display.

The kirthanam of saint poet Annamacharya described the Devi’s repose after a fulfilling union with the lord. Ramya rendered this delicate theme with subtlety and refinement. The choreography was restrained yet spoke volumes of the joy of the union and the ensuing calm and beauty seen in the face of the Devi. It was a compelling portrait of a divine being after an experience that was at once sublime and deeply human.

The javali added a delightfully lighter dimension to the performance with the elements of a lover’s quarrel, and touches of humor. It described a courtesan venting her anger at her lover for disappointing her with an ill kept promise. One cannot but smile when the feisty courtesan who had had enough of his empty words, ousts her lover out of the house! The performance concluded with an exuberant piece Pancha Pravaha, an outpouring of five different melodies and rhythmic patterns. This is a brilliant composition by the late Balamuralikrishna and was a fitting tribute to the legendary musician and composer.

The evening’s performance gained more distinction from the melodious music by the accompanying orchestra and the nattuvangam by Swamimalai Suresh. Nandini Anand was the vocalist with Nagai Narayanan on the mridangam and Kalaiarasan on the violin. To summarize the evening, Ramya’s performance was a richly woven tapestry of aesthetic delights, memorable for its finesse and maturity.