In the tradition
- Padma Jayaraj, Thrissur
does the dedication of an artist instill a sense of responsibility in the
crowd around her. The sheer force of her personality had its sway during
an interactive session in Kerala Kalamandalam. Rama Vaidyanathan
spoke of her vision to the young students that filled the hall; asked them
to judge her after her performance at night. She stood tall, seemed to
be made of such stuff that a guru is made of. Perhaps the mantle of her
guru, the legendary Yamini Krishnamoorthy, has fallen on her. Her Bharathanatyam
recital was part of the annual art festival in the first week of March.
Here is an
artiste who values tradition, yet believes in innovation, an artist who
is conscious of the aesthetics of dance, yet thinks of social problems.
For her, art is both for art's sake and for life's sake. An outstanding
dancer of national and international repute of two decades standing, Rama
rose to the expectations of the audience, the students of Kalamandalam,
the premier institute for performing arts of Kerala.
the nrithamandapam, is a blend of Kerala architecture and the ancient
temple theatre. The dancing girls from Natyasastra stand frozen in time
poised in different karanas on its many pillars. The hall filled
with aspiring students steeped in the ethos of gurukula tradition, provide
perfect ambience for any artiste.
concert began with salutations signifying welcome, greeting, and humility
in ragam valachi, misra jathi tripura talam. A performance in Pandanallur
style sought perfection in technique and presentation.
item, Mayoora alarippu struck a magical chord for the viewers. Capturing
the movements of the bird, projecting its poses and poise, the innovative
piece with 11 beats was enchanting. And the peacock danced, all over the
stage, generating the joy of a parched land eager for the first showers.
It was a singular forecast of the monsoon rains, which means so much to
India since time immemorial.
Lalgudi Jayaraman's composition in Charukesi ragam, cast itself
like a spectrum. The shades of love fell into a colorful pattern. Her presentation
of "Kamala Kanna..." focused on the power of His eye, the window of His
soul and spirit. Surely love has always been conveyed in silence by eloquent
eyes… The woman in love is a noble soul. Hers is introspection and a pilgrimage
to the portals of love. The nayika wonders at the attitude of her
lover Krishna, as well as the nuances of the passion called love. How she
grew up in awe of him; how passion filled her young heart; how love changed
into devotion; how intoxication was quenched by compassion.
one level it is the burden of unrevealed love, its secret joys and pangs,
waiting eternally, as the flute sounds fill the atmosphere. At another
level, it is the journey of human love from the physical to the spiritual.
Bharathi's "Varugalamo ayya..." in ragam manchi, rang with
pathos. The story of Nandanar at the door of the Chidambaram temple revealed
the anguish of a devotee. Genuine emotion is real abhinaya. The tear-filled
eyes showed a deep feeling for the downtrodden.
kriti in Kanada lent itself into superb choreography. "Flute is forbidden
at such a nightly hour," says Radha. "This is the sanctified hour of the
night, the time for retreat, for prayer, do not wake up those who sleep..."
She pleads with him in different ways, in different moods like a conscientious
woman. But the wayward lover, Krishna persists…until she confiscates his
flute and goes away. Kalyani ragam and adi thalam maintained the flavor
of the old kriti.
The last item
from Skanda Purana, was Shivoham: the dancer and the dance becoming
one, experiencing the cosmic power. The musical composition of just one
line fell in kaleidoscopic designs for 15 minutes.
Like a finely
tuned instrument, Rama built a dreamland of wonder. Her fleeting movements
carved sculptures in a gopura of salabanjikas. And all the
sleeping dancers of the koothambalam rose like Ahalyas from its pillars.
confidence and a rare chemistry between the artiste and her orchestra were
the marked features of Rama’s forte. Her team comprised of Karaikudi Sivakumar
(nattuvangam), Sushant Parambatha (vocal), Sumod Sridhar (mridangam) and
G S Rajan (flute), who also composed the music for Anjali, Purandaradasa
kriti, and Shivoham.
nrittam, sensitive observation, an eye for meticulous details, and practice
that wrought the ease, score points for the artiste. Rama's program was
refreshingly distinctive. Like an activist, she points to the lack of moral
responsibility in a civilized society. Untouchability is a socio- religious
problem even today. In an emotionally charged performance, the story of
Nandanar becomes a metaphor for the naked reality of Indian ethos in these
days of revivalism. The grief and torment of a social outcast is the injustice
of a man-made world.
relates to the niceties of social life when Radha plays the role of a responsible
woman in love. What a contrast to the modern idea of love!! The last item,
like a chant, was a fitting finale for a sterling performance.
As Dr Paulose,
the vice-chancellor of the Deemed University honored the artist on stage,
the students of Kalamandalam ran to the green room. It was jam-packed with
admirers waiting for autographs, a silent spectacle far from the public
I walked into
the deep night. The spirit of the performance filled the air. "Be responsible…"
was the refrain; be responsible, chanted river Nila in the backdrop; be
responsible, sang the wind; be responsible, echoed my heart, be responsible….
writer, Padma Jayaraj is a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com