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THE NATYA DARSHAN : Lotuses Blossom-The Creative Process - Day 1
20 December, 2014

- Sukanya Kumar

The scintillating performance of this year’s curator, Padmashri Malavika Sarukkai on the 18th evening was a tempting teaser to the theme that would follow in the three days to come. ‘Vamatara – To the Light’ was an aesthetic amalgamation of painting, poetry, music and dance to convey the unfolding of the vital energy beyond the predictable boundaries.

The Lotus of Natya Darshan this year blossomed with Shri L Sabaretnam, chairman of Karthik Fine Arts formally inaugurating the conference. “I record my deep appreciation for Padmashri Malavika Sarukkai’s contributions to this year’s NatyaDarshan; Lotuses blossom-The Creative process” he said “We hope that this would stimulate the viewers to give deeper appreciation as they understand the creative process,” he added.

Padmashri Malavika Sarukkai was honored. Medha Hari, disciple of Guru Anitha Guha was awarded the Natya Chudar and Nrithya Jaganathan, disciple of Guru Krishnakumari Narendran was conferred with the Nrithya Jyothi title.

Dr. B N Goswamy in his keynote address took the audience through a series of painting samples reading the hidden and unobvious clues in them. His question of whether those hints were meant to be understood or was it over reading, the unexpected relation between a 400 year old painting and a 50 year old poem kindled the curiosity to know more. “It is extraordinary thinking, playful on one hand and profound on the other,” he said.

The dancing for the morning commenced with a choreographic piece by Uma Nambudripad Sathya Narayanan describing the birth and destruction of nature with the help of Krishna’s Kalinga Narthana beautifully tuned by Rajkumar Bharathi.

Resuming from the break with tasty veg puff and coffee was the treat of the Balasaraswati School of “Dance and Music” as Aniruddha Knight put it.

Dealing with how Abhinaya enfolds in Balamma’s style, Guru Shyamala Mohanraj said, “The amalgamation of the Kandappa style and Dhanammal style harmonizes the inner vibration with the outer vibration.” Presenting chosen pieces like Mohamana Varnam’s Charanam in Bhairavi, Theruvil Vaarano, Satru Vilagi, Parulana Maata and finally Indendu Vachi by audience demand, she brought to the fore the essence of the lineage.

Aniruddha Knight reminiscenced how his mother Lakshmi Knight, grandmother T Balasaraswati and great grandmother Veena Dhanammal changed what was concert music to suit dance. He along with Usha Srikumar on Vocal stressed the importance of the ‘Azhuthamana’ singing as per contexts. He presented Padari Varugudu, Adarkulle yen inda, Mosamana and Madapayale. The change in the ragam of ‘Yen Palli Kondeer’ from Mohanam to Madhyamavathi in their school showcased what emotional tweak music can bring to the mood. The nuances of singing certain sangathis for ‘modhu petti’ and ‘tinchi’ was presented with great subtlety.

“Indian way of thinking celebrates plurality and with Sadhana, more layers are revealed as we go deeper,” opined Padmashri Malavika Sarukkai. The Lotuses blossom translated beautifully into ‘Ullasita Vikasat Sarasijam’ by Guru Nandini Ramani had a huge team backing it. Along with Karthik Fine Arts committee, Co-curator Harikrishnan, Advisors Guru Sudharani Raghupathi and Guru Chitra Visweswaran brought together diverse facets. In the words of the curator, “the conference celebrates the complex simplicity of creative possibilities.”

The evening dance session had Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya and Rama Vaidyanathan exploring facets of the blossoming Lotus each in her own way.

Lakshmi’s ‘Surya Vikasita Pankajam’ used references of the flower as the cosmic lotus with thousand petals, the seat of Brahma, Naabhi or naval of Vishnu, the Padmanabha Swami Kshetram called Tamarai Manalan and the Lord’s lotus eyes, lotus feet, lotus lips all of them enlightening and energizing the lotuses of our Chakras. The seven chakras were projected on the dancer’s body in the finale segment with Alaripusollu and musical jatis providing a visual treat.

The vastness of Krishna’s form was celebrated in ‘Chitravali’ by Rama Vaidyanathan. She exhibited paintings linking them to Hindustani music infusing life into the dance art form. The lotus motif especially stood out when she portrayed the flower blooming from the dirty swamp as a metaphor to Krishna being adored despite his color. In another composition Radha and Krishna exchange external appearance. The change in the gait was used to depict the completion of their transformation in a captivating manner. She concluded with the MahaRaas where each individual becomes Krishnamaya. The confluence of the various instruments like Mridangam, Tabla, Sarangi and Bansurienhanced the musical experience.

The evening ended with a question answer session with the audience dispersing with kindled anticipation for the second day.

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