30 December, 2014
“I can never perform here in Krishna Gana Sabha without remembering Yagnyaraman Sir and his generosity to dancers” thanked Leela Samson in her opening address.
Without much ado she commenced with Saint Poet Kalidasa’s Maalavika Agnimitram verse as a viruttam followed by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal’s Shankara Srigiri. The dichotomy in the nature of Lord Shiva; the giver of silks, draped in elephant hide, Sharing his body with a woman yet remaining an ascetic, the Lord of the universe with no ego; was beautifully conveyed with suggestive abhinaya. The keertanam in Hamsanandi that followed was energetic and it was enriching to witness a senior artiste like Leela Samson perform it so effortlessly.
The dancers of the SPANDA Company, Saisantosh, Christopher, Harikrishnan, Bhavajan, Arun, Satyapriya, Ashwini and Bilwa performed the next piece, a varnam penned by Mridangist G Vijayaraghavan, set to music by K Hariprasad. This Varnam was apt for Margazhi, celebrating the life and poetry of Andal. Her innocent undying love was the Sahityam interspersed with Jathis composed by Karaikudi R Krishnamurthy. The piece choreographed by Leela Samson ended with the dancers as Andals holding and talking to her different messengers; PanchajanyaConch, Parrot,Black cuckoo, the clouds, her friend and others.
Leela Samson made everyone in the audience feel like the Sakhi she was addressing in the Javali that followed, Chali ne netlusahintune, “I cannot bear that Shama has not come”
The orchestra accompanying them, Sheejith Krishna on Nattuvangam, Shreekant Gopalakrishnan on Vocal, Karthik N Ramanathan on Mridangam, Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan on Violin and Shruti Sagar on Flute provided excellent support enhancing the energy.
The next three pieces were from different productions with complex musical effects and were performed to pre-recorded music by Leela Samson and the group.
A revisited excerpt from Leela Samson’s ballet Dasaru Khanda Krishna, with mellifluous music by Rajkumar Bharathi brought to life the episode of Kalinga Narthana in Ragamalika with intricate rhythm. The multitude of snakes with one Krishna fighting them and the innocent child Krishna returning to the mother’s lap to sleep were images from the piece that stayed on with the spectators.
After this Purandaradasa Devarnama was a composition by Dikshitar venerating Goddess Ganga. The story of Ganga’s origin, the Bhagirata penance, Shiva taming the Ganges, the rituals like Peela Chadana, Lighting lamps for itinerant men, the last rites and Sandhyavandanam concluding with the image of MahaArthi with lamps against silhouette lighting mesmerized the viewers.
They concluded with the Swaranjali in Purvi Ragam, set to RopakaTalam. This composition of Tiru Gokarnam Subbarama bhagavathar was a realization of Brahman through swaras. Each swara relating to a deity, an animal, a rasa and color was effectively used and conveyed through moving tableaus. The ‘Meeting of the Meis!’ where parallel meiadavus performed by two groups in different speed and style come together at the end point was very interesting.
All choreographies with the unusual formations and cross-rhythms added to the novelty of the presentation, sincerely retaining the traditional strengths of bharatanatyam.