Bharatanatyam marked by precision and polish
- Dr. M. Surya Prasad

September 22, 2014

The packed audience at UCC Theatre, NUS Centre for the Arts, University Cultural Centre, Singapore, was all but bowled over by the 15-year-old Aditi Abhayakumar of the Global Indian Cultural Centre whose effortless Bharatanatyam performance earned unanimous plaudits. Trained by dedicated and hard task master M.S. Srilakshmi of Bengaluru, and now settled in Singapore, Aditi was a picture of confidence. It was worth witnessing the emerging Bharatanatyam dancer whose dance mirrored her teacher Srilakshmi's expertise and artistry.

Starting off with a salutation to different gods and guru with a Pushpanjali (Nata), she invoked the blessings of Lord Ganesha. In the sankeerna alarippu, she displayed consummate artistry and her movements of the eyes, neck, hands and feet were captivating. The splendor of the goddess was neatly captured in the enactment of Muthuswamy Dikshitar's popular krithi "Kanjadalaayataakshi" in Kamalamanohari raga.

The place of pride went to the Charukesi varnam "Innum en manam" by Lalgudi Jayaraman. The 40-minute presentation was imbued with spiritual meaning and evenly proportioned nritta, nrithya and abhinaya accounted for a sumptuous performance. Notwithstanding a couple of missed ardha mandalis, her nritta was marked by precision and polish. And her abhinaya though bold was not in any manner overdone and complemented the nritta aspect. The punctuating jathis were brisk and energetic, displaying faultless footwork. There was not even a semblance of weariness in the extensive rendition.

Continuing with the same vigor and fervor, Aditi delineated the greatness of Lord Shiva on the basis of Tanjavur Shankara Iyer's oft-seen krithi "Mahadeva Shiva Shambho" set to Revathi ragam. It was rendered with the same mastery and skill. The sculpturesque Nataraja stances were well portrayed befitting of the god described as ever dancing. The grace and grandeur of Sri Rama was refreshingly shown with the lyrical support drawn from Mysore Vasudevacharya's famous krithi "Raara Rajeevalochana" (Mohanam). The chitta swaras appended to the krithi were translated into a delightful nritta further glorifying the character of Sri Rama.

A Tamil padam "Ethanai sonnalum" in Saveri raga vouched for Aditi's correct understanding of saatwikaabhinaya. The lovers of dance were moved by nostalgia seeing the padam in which a mother advises her daughter to behave properly after her marriage and be compatible with her husband to lead a happy life! The concluding tillana set to Tillang raga was polished and meticulous from the point of view of technicalities.

M.S. Srilakshmi for the inspiring nattuvanga, evocative vocalist D.S. Srivatsa, enlivening mridangist G. Gurumurthy and the seasoned orchestra manned by Lazar Sebastine (violin), Tiruchy L. Saravanan (flute) and Madras Kajan (morsing) was in total synchronization with the dancer complementing the event with their usual brilliance.

Dr. M. Surya Prasad is a leading music and dance scholar. He is the columnist for The New Indian Express.