Remarkable composure and grace 
-  Kiran Rajagopalan 
August 5, 2009 

Praveen Kumar, an impressive male Bharatanatyam dancer from Bangalore, gave a delightful performance during the Swati Tirunal festival at the Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple in Chennai.  Trained by renowned gurus Narmada and CV Chandrasekhar, Praveen's style was marked by clear lines and athletic grace tempered by an inner quietude.  Likewise, his choice of costume, jewelry, and makeup was elegant and understated. 

He began the performance with "Sarasijanabha" a tana varnam in ragam Kambhoji and Khanda Jati Ata talam on Lord Padmanabha.   In contrast to his dynamic nritta, Praveen's abhinaya was restrained, and his depictions of "Gajendra Moksha" and "Vamana Avatara" were executed with ease and sincerity.  In addition, the jatis and swara passages were crisp despite the long length of the tala cycle.  Praveen maintained his composure even during the very challenging passages.  Images of the "Dasavatara" introduced throughout the second half of the varnam were a nice touch to break the monotony of nritta in the charana swaras.   

This unusual piece was followed by the kriti "Sri Kumaranagaraye" in ragam Athana and Adi Talam on Goddess Durga.  However, the piece de resistance was the concluding "Shiva Stuti" (Ragamalika, Talamalika) that was performed in a tandava mode.  The choreography brought out the best in Praveen as he was like quicksilver in his execution of dramatic adavus and poses.   

Even though Praveen performed with taped music, one did not really feel the absence of a live orchestra because the music was quite good.  The only drawback to the seamless performance was that a male singer would have been more suitable for "Shiva Stuti." 

Kiran Rajagopalan is a Chennai based Bharatanatyam dancer originally from the United States.  He is a disciple of A Lakshman and Sujatha Srinivasan.  Although he holds a BA (Honors) in Neuroscience and Spanish, he has chosen to follow his passion for dance.  He is currently doing his masters in Bharatanatyam at the University of Madras. 

This review was written as part of the dance writing workshop conducted by from July 18 - 24, 2009 in Chennai.