January 11, 2005
dance performances – one by a male, the other by a female - elevated the
viewers to such great heights, wherein the persona of the artiste disappeared
and only the art remained; like the union of the jeevatma and paramatma,
the end result was sheer bliss! The veterans who gave us this delight were
Prof. C V Chandrasekhar and Swapnasundari.
C V Chandrasekhar’s
performance at Narada Gana Sabha was an unforgettable experience.
After the shloka, he took up the evergreen varnam “Swami naan undhan
adimai…” - a Papanasam Sivan composition. Chandrasekhar’s majestic
movements and evocative bhava were so mesmerizing that, had the composer
been alive, he would have been moved to tears. To the lines ‘natanam
aadum’ the sancharis were so full of anguish of a devotee that the
rasika sat up gasping and thirsting for the darshan of Lord Shiva. The
theermanams for the jathis were executed with precision and speed
and each movement was sculpturesque. His araimandi at 70 plus would
put many a 30 plus dancer to shame. This varnam was like a pilgrimage trip
to the abode of Lord Shiva - indeed, a memorable experience.
recital at Bharataiya Vidya Bhavan for Kartik Fine arts was an equally
enriching experience to cherish. This youngest Kuchipudi dancer to get
a Padma Bhushan award, gave us a glimpse of Vilasini Natyam, a dance form
of the Andhra devadasis. She began the program with a prayer ‘Vigna
vinashakara Vinayaka.’ Besides the elephant headed Lord, the dancer
also paid homage to each of the accompanying instruments. This was followed
by a Pallavi in raga Arabhi. The varnam, which followed was on Lord Koppeswara
– Lord Shiva of the matted locks. This varnam belongs to an oral tradition
of the devadasis’ kutcheri atta, danced to please the patrons. The
elaborate varnam was done with exquisite abhinaya and the jathis were added
on only to add momentum to the long piece. In the abhinaya sequence, for
just one word ‘saami’ – the Lord – the dancer showed nearly 25 variations
of expressions – when crossing even 5 sancharis is a marathon effort for
most dancers. This variety of expression that she is able to bring to each
line in the varnam is like an encyclopedia for young dancers to refer to.
It is a pity that in a city full of dancers, only a handful were there
to attend this program.
The local orchestra
provided excellent support, but was obviously not in tune with her extempore
improvisations. The ankle bells coming loose frequently were minor irritants
but the aesthetic joy of sublime art overshadowed the faults.
V V Ramani
is an acknowledged visual artist, set, costume and textile designer, writer,