Her stance said it all
-  Jyothi Raghuram, Bangalore
e-mail: jyothi.r.ram@gmail.com

August 10, 2011

The solo format of Bharatanatyam, with its traditional margam, has given way to group  performances and theme-oriented solos. One such solo focussing on women from mythology – Panchakanya - was presented by Gayatri Sriram of Singapore, at the Seva Sadan in Bangalore recently.  The recital stood out for several reasons. Gayatri displayed a certain sensuousness that essentially brought forth the femininity of the five women. Her stance was also her major plus point, aiding in making even the sub-characters discernible. Her nritta was clear cut.  The music, led by vocalist Balasubramanya Sharma, uplifted the recital.

Draupadi, Mandodari, Tara, Sita and Ahalya were chosen for portrayal by natyacharya Minal Prabhu, encapsulated into a brief look into the travails of the five women who rose above their life circumstances without becoming activists but winning through their patience and resilience.  This in itself held a lesson for today’s woman.

However, there was a catch in the brevity. While the strength of character of Ahalya, Tara and Mandodari got fairly established, Sita and Draupadi remained almost ineffectual.  Draupadi’s episode, with its vastraapaharana, was a shop-soiled idea. The variations in the personality of the five women did not get projected individually, especially considering that they were magnificent personalities. 

 In this context, one should make mention of the compere Janani Iyer. Her announcement was to the point, and helped open up each character to the audience. What usually happens in solos of this kind is that either jathis take a backseat or overwhelm the audience with a disconnect to the theme. Minal’s jathis integrated with the ideas, the adavus imaginatively combined in parts to give a new dimension to the nritta.

Gayatri’s make-up was wishy-washy and was a minus factor. Minal (nattuvangam), G Gurumurthy (mridangam), Dayakar (violin), Mahesh Swamy (flute) and Suma Rani (sitar) lent support from the wings.

The program was the sixth in the series of ‘Nritya Sinchana’ promoted by Ananya. These theme-based recitals have given opportunities to dancers to explore new ideas while providing the audience something different to watch. 

Jyothi Raghuram is a journalist with over two decades experience in both the print and electronic media, having worked with news organizations such as PTI, The Hindu and Indian Express. Her specialized writings on the performing and visual arts have been considered as benchmarks for their comprehensive and in-depth dealing of the subjects.