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THE NATYA DARSHAN : Lotuses Blossom-The Creative Process - Day 3
22 December, 2014

- Sukanya Kumar

Padmashri Malavika Sarukkai, Convener of Natya Darshan opened the day saying “The audience has witnessed seven premiers; that is a lot to take.” She had restrained from the contemporary and modern to make the flavor traditional and to recover the classical.

“The viewer is always lifted by the simplicity of the classical. Artistes have to keep their path and bring the audience to it as it is the artiste who is living the art form. Instead of thinking what would sell the artiste has to inspire the audience to lift them from the ordinary.”

She used well-chosen apt adjectives to praise the work of the artistes involved and thanked the participants for their initiative and the unending opening of possibilities.

Screening of film clips on legends followed showcasing Tanjavoor Kamalambaal, Ram Gopal, Shambu Maharaj, Tanjavoor Kittapa Pillai, Krishnaveni Lakshmanan, Manimadhava Chakiyar, Padmini, Vempatti Chinna Satyam, Vedantam Satyanarayan Sharma, Abhiram Sharma, Adyar K Lakshman and Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair. Harikrishnan gave inputs and insight into the selection process.

Lifetime Achievement award was bestowed on Sadanam Balakrishnan. Mr. L Sabaretnam, Chairman of Karthik Fine Arts said that it was an honour to honour such a great artiste on a great occasion. Mr. Sabaretnam congratulated Malavika Sarukkai for her efforts to showcase a vast range of subjects within a concise time frame of three days. In turn Sarukkai thanked the Chairman for the faith and conviction reposed in her capabilities and for the unquestioned support. She said that the dancers present completed the success of the conference. Sekar Rajagopal, Secretary of KFA gave a crisp vote of thanks.

It was a special moment to witness the demonstration by Sadanam Balakrishnan, “without the extravagant costume and make up of Kathakali.” He detailed the nuances of Kathakali with interesting demo.

“Just like a carpenter who makes ready the different pieces before assembling the furniture the Kathakali artiste prepares each limb before putting together the body for conveying an emotion,” said Sadanam Balakrishnan.

‘Kathakali is difficult to understand as it is purely Natyadharmi,” he added.

Dr.Lakshmi Vishwanathan spoke of her long drawn association with the Tanjavoor tradition. She spoke of the big temple of Tanjore as a mark of dance tradition giving statistics of its architectural marvel. She outlined the tradition from pre Chola regime right up to the Nayaks and Marathas and their positive enhancing influence on the dance and music. She presented the oldest and the latest composition in praise of Lord Brahadeeshwara, namely Karur Thevar’s Tiruvisaipa and Dr. Balamurali Krishna’s Keertanai.

Vidya Shankarnarayanan presented a Swarajati and an extract from Sarabhendra Bhoopala Kuravanji pieces that are intrinsically the intellectual property of Tanjavoor. The short and crisp traditional jatis were examples of choreography that has “an intent to frame and not dominate the expression.” 

Shreejit Krishna presented his demonstration in three parts. He opened with extracts from Saadrshyam where he used “movements not related to semantic meaning to convey root emotions” what is called in Natyashastra as Mashrana Nritta.  Next came excerpts from Yati, a Sapta Tala Raga Mala production that celebrates the beauty of geometry. The Lalguditillana in Desh incorporated story of the birth of Muruga in the Mei Adavus. He concluded with Kalabhairavashtakam which he had the good fortune to choreograph for senior artiste Leela Samson.

Devina Dutt gave closing remarks by listing the highlights of the seminar. “In the absence of Leela Venkatraman it is very difficult to distil what we have witnessed in these three days,” she said.

“In the creative process the artistes should try and remain within tradition, and yet allow being influenced by social context,” she concluded.

The evening showcased Arushi Mudgal Odissi dancer. Vatsalya Bhava in Yashoda meeting Krishna, the alternation of Krishna as innocent child and imperial deity, Ushas in raag Ratibhairav, Arunagaman the rise of the Sun were segments that stood out. She ended with Sopaan, interpretation of the lotus, the outer layer as being Maya Shakti and inner as the Spiritual opening, the conflict between the physical and metaphysical and the transition from Avaran to Anavaran. The music for the piece had lehra overlaid with improvised swaras, sahitya and bols with sound of the conch and temple bells in the climax. The dancing juxtaposed beautiful physical motifs with intended quietude to bring out the bhava. Concentric circular movements brought out the joy of enlightenment.

Sadanam Balakrishnan’s troupe opened with Salajjoham, a seventeenth century padam written by Kottayam Thampuran. The piece explained the dialogue between Arjuna and Mathali, the charioteer of Indra. Next came Ullasita Vikasat Sarasijam, in which the hero admires the lotus emerging from a dirty muddy pond. The struggling lotus is afraid, finds ablution, interacts bashfully with the bee, tormented with pangs, withering away and reawakened when it realizes that its only savior is the Supreme Brahman.

Reflecting on the conference to a group of young dancers, Mr. L Sabaretnam said that he is very happy that they are able to organize this educative meeting of minds every year.   

The audience dispersed with anticipation for the next year’s conference.

For more photos : http://www.sabhash.com/dance/events/10075/the-natya-darshan---day-3.html

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