Rasanubhava – An exploration of emotions  
- Roopa Suresh 
March 12, 2007 

March 4th 2007 witnessed a beautiful Bharatanatyam performance by Kavita Thirumalai, a disciple of Vidya Subramanian of Lasya Dance Company at Cubberley Theatre, Palo Alto. Titled "Rasanubhava – An Exploration of Emotions," Kavita chose to present the traditional margam in Bharatanatyam with each dance number emphasizing a specific bhava or emotion. 

She commenced her performance with Thirupallandu followed by Chitranchiru Kaale in Malayamarutham ragam - an excerpt from Andal's Thiruppavai. This piece which portrays the bhakthi of Andal and the other maidens extolling the virtues of Lord Mahavishnu and offering their complete surrender to Him proved to be a good starting piece for the entire show and set the mood for the evening. The second piece was Bharathadesam Endru Peyar Solluvar, a composition of Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi. This piece was very crisply presented without any exaggeration of unwanted sancharis or the like. An interesting aspect was the mixing of different dance styles in the stanza Sindu Nadiyinmisai. It was definitely an apt addition here mindful of the fact that this piece was a representation of the emotion of patriotism. However, it was a little too short for the audience to grasp this subtlety, maybe adding a couple of more steps probably for another avarthanam would have clearly brought out this variation in the choreography. 

This was followed by the popular Arunachala Kavi's composition Yaaro Ivar Yaaro in ragam Bhairavi set to Misrachapu talam. This piece depicted the adbhuta (wonder) and shringara (love) rasas and highlights the first meeting when Rama sets his eyes on the beautiful Sita and is enamoured by her beauty and grace. Though Kavita brought about the emotions very beautifully in this piece, a slightly more majestic, manly portrayal of Rama would have added luster to the presentation. 

Jathi Ritu Saaram set to Ragamalika and Adi talam was the main piece of the evening. This piece, which had intricate jathi and swaram patterns interwoven with selected verses from Ritusamharam, a composition of Kalidasa depicted the four seasons summer, monsoon, autumn and spring and the moods and feelings that they tend to give rise to. The chemistry between the dancer and Narayanan who played the mridangam for the evening was amazing in the jathi jugalbandis interspersed in the piece. A special mention must be made about the lighting that was done for this piece. The changing of the backlights in sync with the respective season (warm tones for summer, autumn and spring) and slightly darker tones for monsoon enhanced the mood and added to the dancers presentation of the rasas.  

Kavita was at her expressive best in the two ensuing pieces of the presentation. The first piece was a combination of two padams Patikinti in ragam Mohanam portraying the emotion of Mugdha (innocence) and Yaarukaagilum Bhayama in ragam Begada portraying the emotion of Abhisarika (confidence).The second padam Gumma Na Karaiyidire in Ragamalika, a composition of Purandara Dasa, was an apt piece to represent the emotion of Bhaya (fear). In the first piece which had an interesting juxtaposition of two emotions with the nayika innocently fearing to go to the bedroom with her husband on her second night in Patikinti and a confident nayika not caring about what the society spoke about her in Yaarukagilum, Kavita easily slipped in and slipped out of both the roles with such ease and grace that it made the piece a treat to watch. The subtle emotion changes that Kavita portrayed brought out her true potential for abhinaya. The presentation of the item with just two spotlights alternately switched on and off during the respective stanzas and minimal movement helped concentrate the audience’s attention on the primary aspect of the item – the abhinaya. In Gumma Na Karaiyidire where little Krishna begs his mother Yashoda not to call the imaginary monster and promises to mend his mischievous ways, Kavita masterfully brought out little Krishna to life. It was a very interesting piece presented with equal finesse and enthusiasm. 

The performance concluded with the popular Mohana Kalyani thillana set to Adi talam portraying the emotion of joy. 

The orchestra for the evening, Subhapriya Srivatsan, a popular solo Carnatic vocalist in her own right, Vidhya Subramanian on the nattuvangam, Narayanan on the mridangam, Shanti Narayanan on the violin and Ashwin Kumar on the flute excelled in each of their departments and lifted the evening’s performance to a whole new level.  

Having been fortunate to learn under various well-known gurus, Kavita has definitely mastered the art of imbibing and retaining the best quality from each one of them. Blessed with expressive eyes and a lithe physique, Kavita is wonderfully talented and her dedication to the art form is very evident. A little more attention to firmness in nritta, and other aspects of presentation like maintaining the Bharatanatyam stance while exiting the stage would definitely enhance her overall potential as a dancer.