Sumana Santhanam: Promising performance
- B Naveena, Chennai

December 7, 2009 

The performance of Sumana Santhanam under the aegis of the Mylapore Fine Arts Society was characterized by all the distinct features of the Vazhuvoor Bani of Bharatanatyam. An impressive araimandi, clean footwork, subtle abhinaya and a pervading sense of self-assurance made this young artiste win the hearts of her audience instantaneously. 

Fuelled by a stalwart orchestra, this young disciple of veteran dance Guru KJ Sarasa indeed proved to be a chip off the old block, commencing her recital with Gangamuthu Nattuvanar's famed Chokkanathar Kauthvam. This Ragamalika - Misrachapu piece encapsulated the various leelas of the Lord of Madurai and proved to be a good invocatory item. The Charukesi Varnam (Innum En Manam) which followed, depicted the heroine who is disappointed at Lord Krishna's callousness towards her. Sumana exhibited a good level of sensitivity in her portrayal, her nritta passages turning out to be exercises in clarity and flawlessness. 

The first piece post-Varnam was the Poorvikalyani padam, 'Nee Maataleymaayanuraa.' This piece saw Sumana charmingly play the heroine who is miffed at the empty promises made by the hero and takes him to task. The alliterative and amusing lyrics succeed in bringing a smile to every discerning ear and aided as Sumana was by experienced vocalist Girija Ramaswami, this piece reiterated its rightful place on the popularity charts!

The Khamas Thillana that followed was blended with the often-heard Annamacharya keerthana, 'Dolaayaam.' Mixing a composition that depicts the Oonjal Seva of the Lord of the Seven Hills, with a brisk Thillana, is not an idea that may go down well with perceptive purists. Aesthetic aspects apart, hiccups in alternating gatis were unfortunately palpable. The choreography too, sometimes seemed unclear as to whether the Lord was in procession or was being swung back and forth. Choreography issues notwithstanding, Sumana performed with consummate ease and proved herself to be an artiste with ample potential. Bharathiar's Kavadi Chindu was the concluding piece of this memorable recital.
Srinidhi (nattuvangam), Dhananjayan (mridangam), Adyar Srinivasan (violin) and Shankaranarayanan (flute) embellished the programme with their sensitive support.