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Dance > Review
Thennadudaya Sivane Potri - Messiah of Morals
03 January, 2013

By Saraswathi Vasudevan 

A colourful spray of bhavas, ragas and talas defining classical Bharatanatyam suffused to unfold a spiritual journey all while reminding us of our values of bhakti and surrender to the Cosmic Lord of the Universe in Thennadudaya Sivane Potri.

Senior dancer, teacher, choreographer, Smt. Sasirekha Rammohan’s conceptualization realized the dream of the dance drama through the talented students of Kanagasabai , her institution of a decade now. Funded by Govt. of India’s Ministry of Culture, this thematic presentation, a salutation to Lord Shiva deserves kudos to the acharya for carefully reflecting, researching and analytically projecting the concept in the grammar of Bharatanatyam.

Stalwarts and veterans alike have poured in inputs of a caliber that can be identified with Dr. S. Raghuraman (Tamil scholar and professor) and reputed music composer Sri Rajkumar Bharathi.

As the veena strings rhythmically tugged to spell out tat tom taka tam, the prayanam commenced. The tourist guide came in the form of a Harikatha performer to so relevantly link the Sthala puranam and the morals allegorically suggested for an inner awakening. Roshini Ganesh captured the auditorium with an intriguing entry in purple madisar offset by a pink puff sleeve blouse and a garland suggesting Kathakalakshepam – a possible replica of the popular Visaka Hari in her student days!

Kandiyur was the apt choice as the introductory sthalam perhaps because all life begins with creation and thus Brahma the Creator was a symbolic analysis whose arrogance brought upon the downfall of his fifth head by Lord Shiva. The virtue of humility and suppression of pride were the morals conveyed thorugh the rhythmic solkettus of tadiku didiku taka dingu taka as a dialogue between Shiva and Brahma laying the ground for a dispute. The mood of the movement was relevantly set by Roshini Ganesh in her primary appearance and rendition of ragam Attana, so suggestive of ego and pride in the narrative.

Kovalur shone as Shiva – Veeratteswara quelled the evil force of Andhakasuran representative of quashing of lust and baser instincts and the consequent conquering of his consort Periyanayaki. The dramatic elements were as well conceptualized by Sasirekha as they were executed by the performers.

Yogeeshwarar and Gnyanambigai as the deities’ names pertinently suggest in Thirukurukkai, brought out with dignity remarkably the love play and the aesthetics of Sringara Rasa through melodic tunes and metaphoric mimes between Kama and Rathi. The coordination of the beautifully choreographed love play between Manmadha and Rathi executed by Manasa and Shruthe Rammohan were a delight to watch. The two dancers were in perfect harmony, synchronizing their movements to a lasting visual effect, projecting the right emotion throughout. The Raga Bowli in its emotive structure and notations raised the curtains of beauty and passion from the quality of Moham and Kamam to rise above material disconnect towards intellect and wisdom.

Clearly the concept and lyrical content of Dr. S. Raghuraman, (the popular Professor and pillar of support for the dance fraternity) was of supreme merit, the resource being so well strung to lay the foundations of bhakti at every altar visited. The musical component concomitantly enhanced the production owing its mood, melody and mime that was developed with the profound insight and intelligence of Sri Rajkumar Bharathi.

The depiction of Andhakasuran, Salandra and the tiger by Vaishali was a powerful portrayal to carry back. In the Virkudi episode, her battle performance assumed mammoth proportions of a stronger and bolder display in comparison to Shiva played by Sruthy Anand whose movements were dynamic, perfect in laya, brilliant and steady in karna postures, but appeared a tad ‘lasya’ than ‘tandava’ due to an effeminate waist bend and demand for sharper Dhrishti and Greeva Bhedas. Sruthy’s smile of course had those melting moments for the rasikas as iconic as Lord Shiva to spread Shantam at the conclusion of each scene.

Again, the rasa, sentiment and joy of Ragam Rasikapriya was an aural treat as the rasikas were transported back in time to Thiruppariyalur for the visual feast in the story of Dakshayani and the fury of Shiva to punish Dhakshan (played well by Niranchana).

Moving onto Adhigai, the depiction of the birds though visually arresting did seem prolonged and monotonous in stance. Besides, a slighter clarity could be added to dramatize the communication.

The pilgrimage to Thirukkadaiyur was an uplifting experience, and Yama’s entry (assumed by Divya Murthy) was majestic and impact making, however more assertive, firmer nritta would have been assuredly convincing of the role.

The final segment at Vazhuvoor was thoroughly interesting, thought provoking, informative. The presentation as a composite whole was profoundly researched and methodically planned. The dancers Anigeeth, Sreetha, Ashwathy, Neha, Padmasri, Sindhuja, Poojitha and Mathangi absorbed and effected their specific roles in the varying scenes with aplomb.

The credits for the vocal support are due to Veeraraghavan, Srikanth, Roshini Ganesh and Uma Namboodaripad. The dance drama was tunefully orchestrated with the professional instrument support from R. Karthikeyan (Mridangam), Ganapathy (Tabla & Rhythm), Embar Kannan (Violin), Bhavani Prasad (Veena), Vishnu Vijay (Flute) and Sai Shravanam (Recording). Every good dance production is backed by sound technical support and those behind the scenes deserve recognition – three cheers to Ramaswamy, Alex, T.V.S. Mani, Shankar, Malini Ravindran, Shanmugavalli and Murugan.

Hailing the Cosmic Lord of Dance in his resplendent forms across the Atta Veeratta Sthalas, ‘Thennadudaya Sivane Potri’ was a divine revelation in the classical Bharatanatyam idiom as a Messiah of Morals. The nattuvanar and choreographer Smt. Sasirekha Rammohan must be particularly lauded for this herculean effort.


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