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Dance > Review
NKC - Cross rhythms
03 January, 2014

-Sukanya Kumar 

Melapadam by Sadanam K Harikumar was the opening session. The difference between talas in Carnatic practice and Melapadam tradition were highlighted. Harikumar while playing beats with the taalam sang some excerpts to illustrate the information. Ramakrishnan on Chenda and Rajagopal on Maddalam accompanied him and enhanced the presentation.

“These senior artistes from a renowned institution,” as introduced by the convener Priyadarsini Govind proved their mettle in the lecture demonstration and shared intricate rhythm patterns, a real education for dance aspirants.

Perspectives on Rhythm, A Presentation by Prashant Shah and Rukmini Vijayakumar followed next.

Rukmini Vijayakumar presented a composition in praise of Lord Shiva, illustrating various episodes from Shivapuranam.  Valour of Shiva, compassion of Shiva, anger of Shiva, sublime distance of Shiva were some of the different shades of emotions conveyed through the jatis, swarams and sahitya.

Prashant Shah shared some clippings of his collaborative works with Flamenco artistes, hip hop dancers and theatre artistes. What came through the presentation was his staunch adherence to Kathak tradition even during these collaborations.

Prashant Shah and Rukmini Vijayakumar together presented a contemporary duet: Anoushka Shankar’s Rise of the Sun, with Rukmini dancing purely western contemporary and Prashant Shah complementing with deft Kathak movements.  

“Jatis reflect the abhinaya and therefore rhythm can also be used in abhinaya to leave behind a lasting image,” said Rukmini Vijayakumar.  

Rhy-Dhun: Rhythm in Melody by Padma Shankar was the third and concluding session. Padma Shankar was accompanied by Mannarkoil K Balaji on mridangam. “Rhythmic syllables, melodic syllables and lyrics are all intertwined,” she said. She sang Vara Veena Geetam and Ninnu Kori Varnam in Mohanam and Kalpana swaram in Neelambari, Valaji and Deva Gandhari ragams. She brought out the importance of Karvais called ‘Nishantis’. The importance of Korappu, Korvai or Makutam in swara patterns were detailed with demonstration.

 “My guru would say that nothing reaches in one stroke. Even in court the call is made thrice, in auction too three calls,” she said.

Makutam is deployed thrice, the first time it is your personal setting, the second is when the accompanists figure it out, the third time the players are in conformity and it reaches the audience.

Mannarkoil Balaji demonstrated, using the example of Akhilandeshwari, how to understand the sahitya not just the tala while playing as an accompanist, Padma Shankar added to that. “Pure music is raga, even raga has rhythm. While singing the swarams of the raga you should use the specific pace that the raga demands.”

“Like mother and father have to be together, shruti and laya should co-exist.”

“Artiste must have the experience to experiment. One should keep in mind the virtuosity of the instrument and vocal chords as they affect the rendition. Display of technical expertise should not ruin the composition’s tenure,” opined Padma Shankar

The first step is the swarasthayee, the second is the sahityam. Once these are established attempt can be made to go beyond.  This was the crux of her counsel.


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