Kaavyam Kautvam: A noteworthy presentation
September 18, 2009
The beginning of 'Aum, The Sound of Silence' was spellbinding. Shiva (Mythili) was silhouetted on a pedestal with the dancers assuming various static poses below. As the music chimed in, some danced while others spun, some others paused while the rest performed frantic nritta. Out of this clamor arises Shiva, with his damaru punctuating the chaos. However, the damaru sounds were not heard above the orchestra; this could've easily been achieved by the percussionist. Also, the narration stated that the piece was about the sound of silence, yet, that was the only thing not heard. What was sorely missed was the Aum - the effect of pulsating silent vibration. Were it not for this conflict between title plus description, and the rendition, the first item would be faultless.
'Surya Kanti Nalini,' the blossoming lotus was well conceptualized; the group seemed to hold their own without Mythili. Some of the formations were refreshing. The flower was multi-layered, and the most lotus-like of all stage depictions. The blossoming was explored individually, and in teams, keeping time with a fast and then faster beat. More lighting effects can be experimented with, here.
'Prithika' deserves a thorough critique, because it shows promise of being a great piece. The idea of showcasing paths to Divine Love always holds appeal. Choreographed as a solo, Mythili first portrayed the jeevatma transforming to paramatma: Radha-Krishna's sensual devotion to one another, via the ashtapadi "Kuru Yadunandana." Mythili's portrayal was more youthful than the usual quiet presentation of shringara, but held true to the spirit of familiarity between the lovers. One could feel Krishna's presence by how Mythili showed herself being lifted by him.
The choice of the Taj Mahal as the next showcase piece was an indicator of the originality that drives Mythili to excellence. Shah Jahan's pining for Mumtaz Mahal was well depicted, the highpoint being, him resting his head on her tomb. The piece was set to Jagjit Singh's "Hoton Se Chulo Tum," which, while a match in its mood was not a match in the lyrics - Shah Jahan's was a pining for the dead lover, not the elusive lover (the song talks about "ban jao meet mere"/ be my lover). A humming of the soulful melody might have been more appropriate here, also because a comparison to Jagjit Singh's stirring original is inevitable. Showing Mumtaz Mahal reaching down from her spiritual self was a touching tribute to divine love. The jarring note though was that Shah Jahan reaches for her hand and places it on his head, a distinctly South Indian gesture. It would be more in keeping with the Islamic practice to place it on his cheek or even touch his lips to it. Mythili's interjection of the lines in between the pieces "...take away everything that takes me away from you...", while innovative, because it was in English, seemed repetitive. She could've used the same words but done it Bharatanatyam sanchari style - different gestures to depict the same meaning. The use of the dupatta was excellent symbolism.
The third snippet
was the fusion of male and female energies in Ardhanari. Taken in isolation,
it was great. It was a visual feast to see the superb choreography giving
the illusion of two divinities fusing and dancing in tandem. However, it
took a while to get used to the fast pace after the gentle touch of the
preceding song. She should have this be a stand alone piece and look for
a different third love-couple or another Ardhanari song to complete the
trio in her Prithika.