Jyotsna Vaidee's fabulous performance
- Karthika Ganesh, Calgary
e-mail: geoshakthi@yahoo.com

June 15, 2011

Jyotsna Vaidee gave a fabulous Bharatanatyam performance at the University of Calgary, Rosza Center for Ragamala Music Society of Calgary on May 14, 2011. She travelled from San Jose, California with an excellent live orchestra to perform in Calgary and Edmonton. Jyotsna was born in India but grew up mostly in Kuwait and Toronto, Canada. Recognizing her talent and interest, her parents enrolled her in dance lessons at a young age. It is obvious that she has a burning passion for this art form. Jyotsna received the 2010-2011 Shastri Indo-Canada Institute Arts Fellowship and went to Chennai to learn intensively from Guru CV Chandrasekhar and Bragha Bessell. She says she not only was able to expand her knowledge in dance but also learned the strict discipline it takes to make this art form an integral part of her daily life.
Photo credit: Tony Field
Jyotsna commenced her performance in Calgary with a Pushpanjali and Ganesha Stuthi set to ragam Navarasa Kanada and talam Misrachapu. This was followed by alarippu also in Misrachapu. All eyes were glued on to her once she came on stage, following her every posture and abhinaya. Jyotsna has a charming stage presence that she can use to her advantage. Next came a varnam, a composition of Papanasam Sivam, in ragam Sankarabaranam. The varnam tells the story of Goddess Parvathi and the history behind the temple of Kapaleeshwara at Mylapore in Chennai. The nritta aspects of the varnam were well done, with neat and crisp execution of the adavus. The abhinaya was restrained yet expressive. The varnam lasted nearly forty minutes and in this one item Jyotsna demonstrated her full capability and stamina.

After a short intermission, Jyotsna returned to dance to Pathanjali's hymn in Sanskrit, describing Lord Nataraja. This fast paced piece was Jyotsna's strongest in terms of Angika abhinaya and padha bedhas. Next she performed an ashtapadi in Sindhubairavi in which the Khandita nayika was well portrayed. The different shades of Radha's emotions ranging from anger, hurt to even sarcasm were effectively conveyed in this piece. This was followed by a javali set to ragam Behag. Jyotsna sparkled during the scenes depicting Parakeeya bhava in this item. The scene where the nayika sends her husband off on a trip and then welcomes her beloved was nicely done. One could clearly sense the audience enjoying this scene especially when the nayika shed fake tears on her husband's departure.

Jyotsna then performed a traditional thillana in Ragam Hindolam. It was fantastic to watch a dancer who could maintain the same energy level from the beginning to the end. We all assumed that thillana would be followed by Mangalam but instead Jyotsna delivered her innovativeness by sending a beautiful message of an ideal human being that one can aspire to be through "Vaishnavo janato" which is a Hindu hymn in Gujarati. It was composed by the 15th century poet-saint Narasinh Mehta and was Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajan.

The ensemble for music with Roopa Mahadevan on vocals, Vidya Balan on nattuvangam, Shanthi Narayan on violin and Ravi Sreedharan on mridangam was excellent. The entire program as a whole and every item in it was mesmerizing. Jyotsna's neat footwork, consistent use of araimandi, good sense of layam, beautiful abhinayam and excellent co-ordination with the orchestra elevated the concert to a different level. In an auditorium that was packed to capacity until the end, the applause she received was testament to the impact her dance had on the viewer. For those of us who attended that day, it was a real treat.

Bharatanatyam dancer Karthika Ganesh is the director of 'Shakthi Shethralaya Dance and Music School' in Alberta, Canada.