Sunday, Jul 22, 2018 | Last Update : 12:46 AM IST
You get to see some of the prettiest faces and gorgeously attired during the Natya Kala Conference at the Krishna Gana Sabha.
The power and divinity of music can be seen in the way a really old lady bent with age and trying to make her way with a walker into the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha for an evocative concert by Nisha Rajagopal. Disability and discomfort were put aside as she painfully walked up to a chair even as Nisha was elaborating on the wistful Subhap-antuvarali alapana. It was genuine, steady and unfussy. The morning concert had quite a few people and the canteen right outside was empty — not one person except the staff and team belonging to Mountbatten Mani’s lineage! People swear by the food here but this particular morning there didn't seem to be any takers. It could also be that it was Vaikunta Ekadashi and the fast or upvas would be on. The music also reflected this day dedicated to lord Vishnu as almost all songs were about Him including a brief Pasuram - Pachai Ma Malai Pol Peni followed by Tyagaraja’s Srirangam Pancharatna in Arabhi. It was also heartening that those present were only there to hear this young vocalist who is a favorite with many.
Lakshmi Viswanathan is effervescent and she has devised a method of presenting varied subjects and characters in simple English layering the narrative with dance and music. Her approach is down to earth with just a dash of childlike naughtiness drawing out smiles and chuckles from the audience present. But that in no way takes away from the depth of her presentation. In fact, they are well researched, cohesively woven together to appeal to a cross section of people. make anyone understand it. Thanjavur is one of her favorite subjects, having written books and articles and the segment chosen for her recital for the Brahma Gana Sabha focused on Kamakshibai, the Maratha queen as a sutradhar in Apsara Arts Company's production on Tanjore, The Golden Ages Of Bharatnatyam. She flitted on stage reminding one of a butterfly to the accompaniment of Jaya Durge Durugati Pariharini as an ode to the Goddess worshiped by the Marathas. she followed it up with the English narrative exploring the influences of the royal rulers between the 10th and 16th centuries (the Cholas etc.) in Thanjavur. With dancers from Apsara Arts emphasising the greatness and glory of Shiva, the script has many moments of ad libbing one guesses and has its artistic direction by Aravinth Kumarasamy, Apsara Arts Company, Singapore. Dressed in a grey/ red combination in the semi Ma-harashtrian style, she kept the audience entertained very well. One must mention the vocal support. it was a lovely voice that accompanied her dance.
You get to see some of the prettiest faces and gorgeously attired during the Natya Kala Conference at the Krishna Gana Sabha. Saying this one risks being called superficial and inane but then that’s how it is. Dance is a visual language and beauty (Shringaram) is very much part of it. and the dancer has to be pleasing to the eye. Continuing with the theme of Shringaram and its relevance, Alarmel Valli had many valid points about the pining nayika - especially in the varnam, an aspect which she has been quizzed upon time and again. Does a modern woman relate to the heroine who waits and waits for her Swami? In her session Atimoham — The Sensual And The Sacred In Metaphor And Movement, Valli pointed out that this is not merely a man woman equation — it transcends beyond that. To that of the soul longing for the union with the divine energy. That it is representative of the bhakthi poetry that can be stark raving mad for the Divine. Incidentally ‘Stark Raving Mad’ is a bhakthi poetry festival by Arundhathi Subramaniam, also present in this session who explained the essence of bhakthi poetry. Both Valli and Arundhathi have collaborated to establish poetry and dance as extensions of the Sacred and the Sensual. A brief extract from a Kapi varnam and the reading out of an Annamacharya poem were teasers to the point being made about the vacuum inside making the nayika ache to reach the Lord.
The writer is an avid rasika of music and fine arts