Delightful performance by Navia Natarajan
- Sheila Sudhakar, AZ 

December 8, 2009 

On Nov 21, Navia Natarajan gave a stunning Bharatanatyam  performance in San Diego, CA, for the Indian Fine Arts Academy of San Diego that truly was a delight.  With her grace, precision and clarity of movements and expressions, she immediately captivated the audience. She learned Bharatanatyam from Guru A Lakshman of Chennai and the noted abhinaya exponent, Bragha G Bessell.

Navia began her program with a pushpanjali offering.  The high quality and caliber of her dancing was evident within minutes of beginning through the solidity of her footwork and graceful fluidity of her hand and upper body movements. She continued her performance with the varnam, the main item in a Bharatanatyam repertoire.  The varnam is used to portray both the rhythmic aspect of Bharatanatyam or nritta and the expressive aspect or abhinaya.  The varnam she performed was "Swami Naan Undhan Adimai" in the Ragam Nattai Kurinji set to adi thalam, a composition of Papanasam Sivan.  It depicts the love and adoration a devotee has for the lord.  Navia started the varnam with a very complex jathi, a rhythmic pattern of footwork, which includes 3 speeds – slow to medium then fast.  She then interpreted the lyrics through her facial expressions and hand movements.  It was amazing to see the level of detail she was able to convey with the most subtle of expressions.  The clarity of her abhinaya made it easy for the audience to understand the stories or sancharis that she depicted.

The second half of her performance included a javali, 2 padams, and a thillana.  The interesting nuance about Navia’s choice of her 3 padams was that they portrayed different facets of love. The javali "Marubari Thala Le Dura" in Khamas, showing the love between a lady and her lover, how the lady tries very hard to entice her lover to stay with her and after many attempts, finally succeeds.  Through her expressions we, as the audience, could feel the disappointment she portrayed when her lover kept trying to leave; we could also feel her elation of finally succeeding and achieving her goal.  The next item was a devotional piece, "Kanchadalayadakshi" in Kamala Manohari, depicting the love between a devotee and goddess Kamakshi.  Here, she beautifully conveyed the beauty of the goddess and adoration and love the devotee had for the goddess.  

In her last padam "Jo Achyuthananda," Navia very touchingly portrayed the love between an adult and child.  In this item, the poet is ecstatic to see baby Krishna at her door step.  She invites him in, plays with him, feeds him, lulls him to sleep and simply adores the child and in the end, feels so blessed that he graced her with his presence.  She drew the audience into her dance, and in the process, made them experience the whole gamut of emotions along with her.

Navia concluded her program with a lively thillana in the ragam Nalinakanthi.  She is an amazing dancer, who easily engages the audience with her precise nritta and her communicative and emotionally expressive abhinaya. Her dance was augmented by the melodious rendering of music by the orchestra.  With Babu Parameshwaran on the vocals, Divya Devaguptapu as the nattuvanar, Subrahmanyam Sudhakar on the mridangam and Nishant Chandran on violin, the whole program was an audio-visual treat.