Shringara Trayi:  The three mirrors of love
Rama Vaidyanathan's presentation in Bharatanatyam at
The Grand Hall of the Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Canada 
- Sunil Kothari from Ottawa, Canada

October 23, 2008 
On the occasion of the inauguration of Carlton University's Centre for the Study of Hinduism at Ottawa on 11th October, 2008, a special Bharatanatyam presentation was organized by the scholar Dr. Harsha Dehejia based on the script, narration and visuals of his Shringara Trayi theme by Rama Vaidyanathan to especially composed music by G S Rajan. She had choreographed the four dance numbers for the thematic content viz., Madanika Darpana, Radha Darapana and Viraha Darpana, imaginatively using nritta, pure dance and also abhinaya to a song of Surdas, a Purandaradasa composition and an ashtapadi from the Gita Govinda to mirror the emotions captivated in the sahitya.

From the opening number and bringing to life the female beauty captured by the painters of miniature paintings and sculptors who have carved Madanika images in Belur temple, Rama was in her element.

Revealing the sheer geometric beauty of the lines of Bharatanatyam in nritta and giving form to suggested content, she held the audience in thrall. The Grand Hall of the museum and the wooden stage saw her weaving a web of magic, taking utplavanas, the jumps with the ease of a born dancer. 

In Radha Darpana, Rama performed rasalila to the song of Suradas, painting as it were Brindavan, the dancing peacock, the deer stopping in their tracks, the cows running in the direction where Krishna was standing, the gopis dropping daily chores and leaving their homes to listen to the melodious notes of the flute and see Krishna and all dancing joyously. Depicting Radha's sweet confusion at Krishna's arrival at her place, when Radha's in-laws were asleep, requesting him to leave without waking them up, echoing Purandaradasa's scintillating Rangaiyya composition, Rama asked Krishna to be discreet!

In "Sancharadadharasudhamadhurdhwani" ashtapadi, there is a recall of Krishna having played with several gopis, causing envy in Radha and it could be interpreted to depict viraha - separation. "Smaratimanobhavakritaparihasam" remembering and suffering the agony, Radha was shown as reflecting upon her possessive attitude towards Krishna, whereas Dr. Dehejia's text had implied that Krishna after leaving Brindavan had gone away to Mathura, never returned, the gopis and Radha were searching for him - and found on looking inward that he was there belonging to each one of them. Rama depicted the ashtapadi competently creating an impact upon a large gathering to witness more of her dancing. That she "left them hungry" was a perfect strategy. Indeed the audience was "eating out of her hands."

To meet such a challenge successfully in a theme - specific dance within a time frame of thirty minutes was very creditable. If Rama received standing ovation it was well deserved. She was ably assisted by G S Rajan (flute), K Sivakumar (nattuvangam), Valsarajan Niiyath (vocal) and Sumod Shreedharan (mridangam). Excellent team-work.  Indeed live music lent an extra dimension to the performance.

Dr. Sunil Kothari, dance historian, scholar, author, is a renowned dance critic, having written for The Times of India group of publications for more than 40 years. He is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine, New York. Dr. Kothari is a globetrotter, attending several national, international dance conferences and dance festivals. He has to his credit more than 14 definitive works on Indian classical dance forms. Kothari was a Fulbright Professor and has taught at the Dance Department, New York University; has lectured at several Universities in USA, UK, France, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. He has been Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (2000-2008) and is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter, based in New Delhi. A regular contributor to, Dr Kothari is honored by the President of India with the civil honor of Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi award.