by Sumana Srinivasan, Sunnyvale, CA 
e-mail: sumanasri@yahoo.com  

October 15, 2002

"She came.. she danced.. she conquered!!" sums up Priyadarshini Govind's scintillating performance at Cubberley Theatre in Palo Alto this Sunday afternoon, October 13th 2002. For those who came, despite busy golu schedules, it was a handsome treat that will remain etched in their memories for a long time to come. Her sculpturesque poses, sweeping teermanams, heartrending abhinaya, perfect geometry, eloquent explanation of her pieces and her "tongue-in-cheek" spontaneity stole the hearts of rasikas and transported them to a different world far, far away from depressing thoughts of sagging economy, war and mundane lives. The young musicians who accompanied Priya matched her nuances hand-in-glove, both in nrittha as well as abhinaya segments. The soulful singing of Deepu Karunakaran was supported ably on the violin by Vinod. Viswanathan on the mridangam and nattuvangam added majesty to the recital with his deep, resonant sollukattus and admirable support on the mridangam.  

Priya started off her recital with a crisp Pushpanjali and Ganesha stuthi. She awed her audience with her agility and perfection of lines and technique in this piece. Having put her stamp of perfection in nrittha, she then went on to perform a varnam on Goddess Andal, a composition of O.S Thiagarajan. Priya's expertise in abhinaya was firmly established especially so in depicting the line "chootikonda maleyin chootikonda govindaney". She achieved the unison of body, mind and spirit and took the rasikas along with her elevating them to a higher plane. There was not a single sagging moment in the entire varnam. She followed this with a Marathi composition "Rusali Radha and rusala madhava". She brought the poetry alive, adding her own dimensions to the interplay of emotions between mockingly angry Krishna, defiant and hurt Radha and the wonder of the poet narrator. The result was a visual treat.  

After a brief intermission of 15 minutes, Priya started off the second half of her recital with a chirpy kaavadi chindu, the evergreen "kannan variginra nerum". She included gliding folk movements, intelligently woven in within the traditional framework and had the audience tapping with their heels to the lilt of the music. In all her abhinaya pieces Priya displayed a unique interaction with the audience, keeping them guessing the end of her abhinaya pieces in suspense. This instantly created a rapport with her audience. The dancer has such expressive eyes, that one has to literally tear themselves out of their mesmerizing grasp to watch the rest of her, perform. The next item was Tulasidas's ever-popular bhajan "thumak chalat ramachandra". She followed this with the perky javali - "Nee matalemayanura" and had the audience in splits. Following this was the "piece de resistance", according to this writer, the ashtapadi "kuru Yadunandana". This was completely performed in a seated position under a spotlight. Her abhinaya held the audience spellbound. The eroticism inherent in the padam was wrapped in subtlety thereby transporting the rasika to a higher level.  

She ended her recital with the fast paced Kadanakuthoohalam thillana of Balamuralikrishna followed by a heartfelt rendering of Bankim Chandra's "vande maatharam". All in all, Priya left the audience craving for more. Judging by the applause and the calls from the audience asking her to come back, Priyadarshini Govind left an indelible mark in the minds of her rasikas, savoring her performance for a long time to come.  

Priya will be performing in 8 more cities all over the US. She is the recipient of the coveted "Nrithya Choodamani" title this year, awarded by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, one of the leading institutions in Chennai, India. If Priya is visiting your part of the town, do not miss her performance.