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THE NATYA DARSHAN : Lotuses Blossom-The Creative Process - Day 2 Evening
21 December, 2014

-Sukanya Kumar

Some evenings leave an everlasting impact, they are remembered and cud chewed long after. This was undoubtedly one of them.

Shijith Nambiar’s Bharatanatyam opened with a Nrittaitem that reinforced the term ‘Ullasita Vikasat Sarasijam’ as a part of the sollus. Exploring the sahasrara chakra, he presented the main piece with a complementing combo of energetic moves and expressions. The viewers had the life of the lotus to take back, the life from birth, the connection with its lord Sun – Surya Prana Vallabha, The Sun hiding during a stormy rain, to the message of the wind to a fallen Padmam – Yatra… until you bloom again was an amalgamation of various poems by different composers tuned by different artistes in varied languages adding variety to the concept presented.

The light blue drapes hanging from the ceiling were effectively used to portray ideas of hiding and peeping of the sun, the clouds, etc.

Wrapped up by finishing the circle, the ‘Punanjanani’ painted the picture of the crisp fragrant spring wind where the lotuses as symbols of peace, truth and happiness regale. Tagore’s composition ‘AajoKamalo’ and Kalidasa’s Ritusamhara were set in a Bhajan mood with two female vocalists and tabla distinctly changing the tenor of the production. The tillana in tisranadaiadi integrated with motifs of the lotus was brusque, with improvised adavus to add a folk touch to the piece. The joy expressed was a strong high point to end with reinstating the blooming of the lotus.

The musicians, Arun Gopinath on mellifluous Vocal, Aadith Seshadri on nuanced Nattuvangam, Ramesh Babu on intricate Mridangam, Sruti Sagar on embellishing flute and Easwar Ramakrishnan on dulcet violin were an excellent support.

The next presentation by Aditi Mangaldas was an example of consummate excellence. Kathak, a dance form not so common to southern public was beautifully presented in its entirety starting from the Aamad, That, Todas, Tatkar, right unto the often ignored Baithak Bhav, never swaying from the concept of the ‘Widening Circles’

Approach to the topic itself was unique and fresh with the production divided into three segments of The Sun, he Earth and the Moon.

The Sun began with a choreography influenced by the Suryanamaskar to the high pitched ‘Om Suryayai Namaha’ followed by the namavallis. The Suryashtakam, shlokas from Katha and Prashna Upanishad intertwined with the seated Bolpadhant by the dancer, the pakhavaj motifs and the golden divided skirt costume with the orange overcoat pattern of anarkali, all added to the mood of the sun.

The Earth covered the circle of life for the couplet of Ahmed Nadeem Qasimi depicting the food chain both on land and in water through Todas and Gat Nikas and Gat Bhav. Beginning with nothing but the sound of the dancer’s ghungroo, the depiction of grass, grazed by the deer, eaten by the tiger, hunted by the man…and so on... culminated with the motif of lotus living in the ever widening circles. The verse by Rainer Maria Rilke was read after the final sam or the culminating beat of every segment.

The music composed by Samiullah Khan, The Drishtikon repertory and adapted from Kishori Amonkar works was rendered ever so melodiously by Faraz Ahmad on voice and harmonium and Amir Khan on Sarangi. On well-modulated BolPadhat was Preeti Sharma. The tablist Mohit Gangani and Pakhawaj artiste Ashish Gangani played with verve and precision. The entire orchestra enraptured the audience with their passionate artistry especially during a costume change before The Moon.

The moon was tuned to a bandish by Saint Meera in BaithakBhav with the candles used to enhance the effect of loneliness when she says, “Mein Virahini Baithijaaon” The culminating verse was read out, “Am I a falcon…or a song” leaving the audience in a mystic silence.

The production was a wholesome experience with “such synchrony between music, lights and the dancer” reflected Aadith Seshadri, a Dancer.

The single aspects of the costume that was changed like the orange ghagra, the pink dupatta, the gold dupatta to the way she wore it made an impact to reinforce the mood.

A special mention must be made to the lighting artist Govind Singh Yadav who would have rehearsed and taken in the essence of the production as much as the dancer herself to be so much in sync with it. With no extravagant sets of props, the idea of the day passing by indicated effectively with directional lighting from a single or unidirectional source for The Sun, top lighting to mystify the point of view in Earth and the Rembrandt lighting as if the source are the candles were commendable. The subtle touches added with controlled fill light, powerful and well placed key light all added to the effect. Some places to be noted like switching of the light when the dancer blows out the candles one by one, the coordinated switching off of single light sources after a complete bright lighting of all places including the audience, the ambient twilight light effect maintained in the auditorium instead of the disturbing blue lights and the lit book in the end!...displayed the perfect use of technology.

The effective use of echo, the profound silences with distant bell tones all increased the ethereal mood.

It was aneuphoric experience for the audience to witness a well-rehearsed production presented with such élan and comprehensive excellence.

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