Canvas of different textures and colors
- Chittaranjan Mothikhane
October 20, 2017
Mysoreans’ philosophy of TIE (Take it easy) and belief in IST (Indian stretchable time) should not brand them as insensitive to art and culture. The fact that the threat of the unseasonal and unprecedented thunder and shower did not deter the rasikas to savor the Indian classical dances at the Articulate Festival in its series 17 on 15th October 2017 at Mysore, in itself seals the tag of Mysore as "cultural capital of Karnataka". "Mission accomplished" and "efforts worthwhile" says the organizer Mysore B Nagaraj who claims that this is the only dance festival in the city of Mysore religiously conducted every month on the 3rd Sunday sans any chief guests, sans award ceremonies but pure bliss of experiencing the hoary Indian dance arts.
Pavithra Kannan, disciple of Guru Minal Prabhu, invoked the deities with a bouquet of musical notes where the drops of dance syllables glistened on its petals and danced like a gentle breeze giving a good start to the evening concert. She moved through in tishra nadai in the composition "Swara Guccha". Her dance of “Kaalai thooki", a composition of Muthu Thandavar describing the beauty and attributes of the cosmic dancer Shiva and the bliss experienced by the munis witnessing, was enchanting to watch especially through her Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam. Her concluding item was a Purandaradasa devaranama "Jaganmohanane Krishna" where one could see the proficiency in her abhinaya, gleefully questioning Ranga through Haridasa’s poetry, where he learnt the tricks of stamping Kaliya, lifting mountains, and holding up the mandara during amruta mathana.
Shrruthi M Iyer brought the essence of Kerala on stage through her languorous movement like swaying of the palm trees, swinging hands like the flapping of elephant's ears, fluttering her bewitching eyes like those of the expressive eyes of Kathakali story tellers, the stillness in her satvika abhinaya like the still backwaters. The dance of the enchantress was fully justified in her short Mohiniattam concert. A disciple of Guru Sreedevi Unni, Shrruthi Iyer, with her dainty footsteps pleaded mother earth to forgive her for stamping during her gentle dance footsteps while displaying ‘Cholkettu’ characterized by its minimalist beauty and geometry. Radha chastising Krishna for making her wait and asking him to go away was her choice to exhibit her prowess in abhinaya. Radha taunted that would he leave alone a love struck woman from killing her with pain of separation when he dared to kill women like Putana. Oh Keshava go away. Shrruthi's interpretation of Jayadevas "Yahi Madhava, Yahi Keshava" was feastfull.
It was Laxminarayan Jena, disciple of Mysore B Nagaraj, who set the stage on fire with his tandava and created transitory melancholy with his abhinaya in the third segment of the festival in Kathak style. The string of chandas and kavits went through a gamut of virile, volatile, explosive, destructive, benevolent, meditative, creative, thunderous emotions depicting an array of Shiva's moods. This dance number was way different from the usual performance of Kathak. Jena’s performance was in one word, awesome. The reverberence of the ankle bells precisely matching the percussion beats was in perfect sync while the torso and limbs moved to the meaning of the poetry, creating a fleeting canvas that transited into different textures and colors with different nritta and nritya compositions weaved through the tapestry. One would squirm in their seat to watch a male dancer enacting the emotions of a nayika. Laxminarayan's expression of frustration of Radha was restrained, subtle and dignified in his rendition of "Radha bhava Madhava" in gat bhav. His seeking Krishna to become Radha, just for a moment, to realize the pain of separation as experienced by Radha, was impressive. Transiting from male character to female with just a turn of the body and the flip of the veil which he manipulated in an interesting way was the litmus test to his dance caliber.
What a contrast between Kalakshetra style and Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam's style. No wonder she terms her dance as Bharatanrithyam when we see sisters Samudyatha and Samanvitha performing a varnam on Lord Shiva as trained by Dr. Padma. It was beautiful to watch them performing Ananda Tandava in the pallavi and in the anupallavi describing the formlessness aspect of Shiva. In the charana, they perceived Shiva in shades of a gruhastha in Mount Kailasa and shades of a Yogi as Dakshinamurthy enunciating the Vedas. Ramadasa's shloka on Shiva was the opening move. The charis and karanas were woven into the fabric of the varnam that one could see the interplay of the sahithya and the nritta with no defined transit borders but was a fused blend that gave the beauty of continuity of movement. The mirror image stances and synchronous movements in the choreography, to Samudyatha and Samanvitha, was like a child handling her favorite doll with great ease and passion.