A Report 

Dance mania in December  

Bharatanatyam by Chitra Visweswaran 
- Dec 15, 2004 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai  
Text & photos: Lalitha Venkat 

December 20, 2004

After Gopika Varma’s performance, Chitra Visweswaran commenced her Chennai season recitals with this presentation. She and her vocalist husband R Visweswaran dedicated the evening’s performance to Carnatic musician late M S Subbalakshmi, ‘in love, humility, respect and adoration.’ As a mark of respect to the departed soul, the program started on a meditative note, to the Annamacharya kriti ‘Shriman Narayana’ made famous by the mellifluous voice of MS.  

“Visweswaran was thrice blessed to have learnt this directly at the feet of MS,” said Chitra, adding, “not only musicians and rasikas, but dancers also draw inspiration from great souls like MS maami. I always felt she was one of my abhinaya gurus.”  

The varnam was the Tamil translation by Vidwan Shankara Narayanan of Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Roopamu juchi.’ It was first performed at the Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur for the 1000th birth anniversary of Raja Raja Chola. A Telugu padam and a well-known lingashtakam completed her solo recital.  

A disciple of Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai, Chitra spoke about how new interpretations over the years added to her maturity as an artiste. On vocal was Visweswaran assisted by Uma Namboodiripad. Nattuvangam by Sukanya, mridangam by Adyar K Gopinath, flute by R Thyagarajan, violin by Veeramani and tanpura by Munuswami completed the music ensemble.  

 For artistes, it is a common grouse that those who are billed earlier exceed their performance time limit. It was good to see that all artistes concluded their recitals on time on both the evenings that I attended. For rasikas, the high cost of tickets during the December season is a cause for concern since many are unable to afford it. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan should be lauded for making its festival free to the public.    

(Presented by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in association with Kala Pradarshini).