Kandaswamy Shankar, dancer with natural grace and body awareness 
- Malathi Iyengar
e-mail: malathisiyengar@gmail.com

January 12, 2009 
Kandaswamy Shankar, a Bharatanatyam dancer from Malaysia, presented a performance filled with joy and involvement on January 5, 2009 at the Malleshwaram Seva Sadan in Bangalore.  Kandaswamy Shankar's performance was organized by the World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific Karnataka Chapter, in association with the Natya Institute for Kathak and Choreography, and Samskruthi. The intimate space and packed audience added color to Shankar's dance and transported us to the world of Gods and Goddesses.  The accompanying music was grand and soulful, offered by Prasanna on nattuvangam, Nandakumar on vocal, Gurumurthy on mridangam, and Vivek V on flute.

Shankar performed the ever-popular Varnam "Sri Krishna Kamalanatho" (Text chosen from Sri Krishna Ashtottaram) in Reethigowla tuned by Thirumalai Srinivas of Bangalore.

Shankar is an effortless dancer and a true story-teller. His movements are supple and keep the viewer involved.  He crafted the episodes of Krishna's birth, Poothana, and Gitopadesham in simple but stylized manner, which made the audience understand and appreciate the details. His depiction of the line 'Jalakreeda Samaasaktha Gopi Vastrapahaarakaha' in the Ethugade Swara Sahithya was in particular most enjoyable and fluid as he showed the play between Krishna and the Gopis in mercurial speed and clarity.

I would like to share a bit of history regarding this beautiful Varnam. Guru Narmada of Bangalore staged this Varnam for the first time in 1990 when Nirupama Rajendra performed at the Ravindra Kalakshetra in honor of Udupi Swamiji.

Several dancers in the audience recanted their own experience of performing this Varnam on numerous occasions.

Shankar concluded the evening with an intelligently woven piece titled 'Shankarabharanam' in praise of Lord Shiva. Shankar Kandasamy in this original choreography related the Saptaswaras (seven notes) to the attributes and adornments of Shiva. Throughout the evening, Shankar's movements and sculpture like poses flowed with poise and beauty.

Malathi Iyengar is the Artistic Director of Rangoli Foundation for Art and Culture, California.