by G Narendra, Chennai
January 7, 2003
those who did not have the information and don’t live in Chennai – I have
some information as well as my observations to share. A three-day dance
festival was organized by Usha Vasanthakumar and Unnikrishnan under the
banner “MAARGA”. According to them the unknown talent hidden in all corners
of our country will be given opportunity through their festival. This understandably
includes them and I hope they will continue to go on the right path regarding
the selection of performances and artistes.
– Kalamandalam Kshemavathy
Like most art forms from Kerala, Mohiniattam is dominated by ‘Mukha Abhinaya’(facial expression). Lack of Nritta (intricate body and footwork) does not seem to help this art form to flourish elsewhere. Before Thillana, the dancer performed a lullaby. We didn’t need one since all the items were in ‘Vilambhakala’ (slow paced) already. I thought we needed a dance to wake up and definitely not a lullaby! Most of the time we go home totally perturbed after a performance for various reasons. In this case it was peaceful and we (audience) did not have to rack our brains. Excellent musicians accompanied the dancer.
The dancers began with a Pushpanjali with lamps in their hands, while the projection had bright light showing broad daylight; whereas, the lighting for the dancers was subdued to give an effect to the lit lamps. Sometimes we go overboard with multimedia ideas while the audiences are confused as to where to look. Agni – one of the five elements (Panchabhootha), was depicted by the dancers showing a dowry scene, while the projection showed a rocket being launched! I wonder what the connection was? There were sequences where the dance, theme and video projection were well coordinated. Like the sequence where the video projection showed lots of birds while the dancers depicted birds too. Such sequences should have occurred more often. The video projection on its own made more sense with regard to the theme.
The male dancer’s vigour and fitness proved that they are vital to any performance. On the whole, the effort put in by each and every one needs to be applauded. Talking about the music, it was extremely repetitive to listen to Pushpanjalis and Thillanas throughout the performance. Quality of the recording was not up to the mark as well. In my opinion, music has to be scored by a professional musician.
G Narendra is a freelance dancer, teacher, and choreographer who has started a dance ensemble AVIGNA (meaning no obstacles), along with Mahalakshmi, his dancing partner. The core group consists of some excellent professional dancers.