Brief but nice performance 
- Ravi Shankar, NJ  

December 30, 2008 
Ramya Ramnarayanan of NJ, USA performed on the 26th of December at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. It is very hard to give/get a flavor for a performer in the 1:30 minute-slot allotted to dancers.  That being said, Ramya utilized the time very efficiently to showcase all the positives about her Vazhuvur style of Bharatanatyam.  The Sri Ranjani piece "Gajavadanaa karunaa sadanaa" was very well done, with the dignity commanded by Heramba!  It segued into the tisram Alarippu with crisp sollus and fluid movements.  The choreography was mostly traditional, but with much more of the steps in 'muzhu mandi' - a testimonial to the artist's knees!

The padavarnam "Saamiyai azhaittodi vaadi" that followed was the highlight on the program - lasting nearly 40 minutes, it was replete with sancharis.  The opening trikala jati was very dignified - no evidence of crazy kanakkus, or use of bijakshara mantrams - just seamless movements to soothing jatis recited with authority.  The adavus were executed completely, which was beautiful to watch - nothing was left incomplete, even in the higher speeds.  The sanchari to the first line of the pallavi included the procession of the Lord witnessed by the heroine, who is smitten the second her eyes behold him.  The segment showing the Lord moving, and the devotee who is sprinkling flowers on the path alternately was very effective with an admirable economy of movement. The sanchari for "ma madi mukham kanalai veesudadi" was very nicely done.  The line set to vasanta (vasantaamruta velai) was elaborated showing the birds and bees in spring, a pair of lovebirds, a deer and doe, a peacock and peahen, and how the heroine's longing become magnified when she sees all these 'jodis.'  I particularly loved the vocalist's tanam in vasanta during the sanchari.  

The jati that followed was very appropriately full of light steps, leaps, turns and twinkle-toed ullaasa nadai. As an aside, I found the charanam rather strange - it goes, 'sadaa ninaivu kondu mayyal mirude, Sankaraabharananai' - which literally should mean, 'continual thoughts of Adisesha (Sannkaraabharanan - one who adorns Sankara - viz, Adisesha) are fueling excessive desire.’ And not ‘continual thoughts of Siva are fueling excessive desire'!  The padam (palukutenela talli) that followed was presented with restrained and dignified abhinaya.  It was presented from the view of Alamelumanga's hand-maidens who come to make the bed, only to find her still asleep despite the fact that it is light outside.  "Vishamakaara Kannan" was the pick of the day.  If one felt that Ramya had kept a part of herself aloof during the previous pieces, in this she was able to convey the sublime, IMO.  It was performed with aplomb and energy.  Lalgudi Jayaraman's Yamankalyan tillana is one of my favorites - another high energy piece.  It started with a savaal javaab segment, and proceeded to the lilting and ebullient tillana as the fitting finale of this performance.

Shajji Lal's nattuvangam skills are awesome.  He brought energy, excitement, and precision to the performance. Nandini Sharma Anand's vocals were very nice, with clear enunciation.  Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan gave perfect violin support.  The raga outlines before the pieces were brief, but brought out the svarupa. Hari Babu (percussion) played tastefully - blending in with the music for the most part and very authoritatively during the others. Murugan and Venkatesan were simply stupendous with the lights and sound effects.  The lights in particular were synchronized beautifully with the music, the mood, and the portrayal on the stage.  I just wish that the final dimming in each piece did not have to happen so quickly.

Overall, a brief, but very nice performance.