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- Masoom, Art Manager at Nritarutya, Bangalore

It was one of those evenings…

Bangalore’s very own dance historian Ashish Khokar’s Dance DIScourse 2014 series began with aplomb to say the least. With this year’s each DIScourse revolving around a specific genre of dance, the first one in the series was Bharatanatyam DIScourse. Dissecting Bhartanatyam at a regional and global level, the showcase had a brilliant line up of artistes.

The evening began with a wonderful performance by California based Navia Natarajan. Trained under Guru Radha Kalyani and Guru Padmini Ramachandran, Navia performed the Maharaja Swathi Tirunal keertanam “Pannagendrasayana” where the nayika says ““O Lord Padhmanabha, the one who reclines on Adhi Shesha, the king of Serpents, I am pinning for you”. Set to Ashtaagamalika and Aditala, the performance was beautifully restrained and captivating. Her riveting abhinaya, precise nritta and geometric lines left a captive audience speechless. She was elegance understated at its best especially in the lines where she depicted the soft breeze and melodious cuckoo sounding torment while she pines for the Lord. The best thing about her dance is her “aramandi” and neat adavus.

This brilliant rendition was followed by yet another underrated artiste Kavitha Ramu. Dancing to the varnam “OmkaraKarini” composed by maestro Dr. M Balamuralikrishna, set to raga Shanmugapriya and Aditala. Intricate jathis, engaging abhinaya and neat poses took the varnam to an ethereal level. Her deep knowledge about rhythm was evident from the intricate jathis carefully constructed to meet the mood of the varnam. Dressed in a brilliant pink, hers was a performance that left the audience applauding and craving for more. High on energy, she is a dancer to look forward to.

The “classical” Bharatanatyam was dissected into its modern form through two other performances.

A woman of many talents, Anita Ratnam (who I fondly call Anita Akka) presented excerpts from her choreographic work Ma3ka. The red costume, the music, and that expressive face - enough said. She stunned the audience with her presence on stage.

This excerpt was a prelude to the showcasing of a work in progress “PADME”. Produced by Anita Ratnam and choreographed by Brussels based danseuse Kalpana Raghuraman, PADME was an ensemble of eight handpicked dancers from Bangalore. 6 hours of vigorous practice for two weeks bore fruit on stage as these young artistes clearly show signs of owning the piece and becoming one with the dance. Using the lotus or “Padma” as a metaphor for human development, the dance derives its text from personal experiences combing Indian dance and modern dance resulting in an exciting dance language. Gliding gracefully, the synchronisation was just too true to be believed. Of the eight dancers, Vandana Supriya, Keerthana Ravi and Sabysachi Chaterjee deserve a special mention.

All said, a costume wherein the dancers were more comfortable would have indeed made a difference, the discomfort being obvious on some dancers’ faces. Also, a better lighting will definitely make the piece more engrossing.

This is a production apt not just for proscenium but also for site specific works. Looking forward to its premier in August 2014.

An interactive session with Navia, Kavitha and Anita Ratnam marked the conclusion. As I mentioned before, it was one of those evenings… one where you are happy about a Sunday evening well spent.

Masoom is an Art Manager at Nritarutya, a dancer, a physiotherapist and a novice art reviewer.

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