Malavika Venkatasubbaiah's enchanting performance at WDA dance fest
- Ganga Dakshinamurti

February 25, 2011

Malavika Venkatasubbaiah, a well established Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher from Edmonton, Canada, performed in the Third International Dance Festival organized by the World Dance Alliance (WDA) Karnataka Chapter on January 6, 2011 at Seva Sadan in Bangalore. I found Malavika's performance that evening altogether enchanting and flawless, leaving the knowledgeable audience highly satisfied and appreciative.

Malavika performed three items as part of that evening's programme. The first item was "Lalithalavanga," an ashtapadi in Raga Vasantha and adi tala. It depicts Radha's plight when Krishna dallies with other gopis. Malavika demonstrated her superb ability to express the conflicting emotions, while interweaving the ashtapadi with a jathiswara. The second dance "Mathe Malayadwaja," the well known Daru Varna in Raga Kamach in Adi tala, depicting the beauty and the power of Parvati, allowed Malavika the opportunity to demonstrate both the graceful and powerful movements associated with Devi by incorporating intricate footwork and mesmerizing expressions. The final item "Devaranaama" in Ragamalika and adi tala, narrating the childhood pranks of Krishna, called for a display of various emotions of a Gopi towards Krishna. Once again, Malavika was able to showcase her ability to render conflicting emotions interwoven with beautiful dance movements. It was a highly enjoyable performance, ably supported by the live orchestra led by Malavika's Guru Lalitha Srinivasan on nattuvangam, Mythili Anantharaman on vocal music, Narayanaswamy on mridangam and Narasimha Murthy on flute, with Kapinayya on lights.

Malavika Venkatasubbaiah is a versatile Bharatanatyam dancer with the ability to present rhythmic dance with complex structures, along with a marvelous flair to convey various emotions in a seemingly effortless manner. She is the founder and artistic director of Natyam Dance Academy in Edmonton, Canada, with the vision of making Indian classical dance more accessible to mainstream audience worldwide. This has led her to many collaborative and outreach work with other dance companies. During India's musical season 2010-2011, Malavika has performed in many cities in India, including events such as the Sai Nrithyotsav in Chennai and Bangalore, Bharath Nrithyotsav in Visakhapatnam where she was awarded the Natya Saradhi tiltle, Srishti Dance and Music festival and Shivarathri festival, Bangalore.

I commend Malavika Venkatasubbaiah in serving as a model to showcase how well the Indian dance art form is nurtured and sustained in the Canadian mosaic.

Ganga Dakshinamurti is the Company Coordinator, Manohar Performing Arts of Canada, Inc, a Winnipeg based dance theatre company that integrates classical Bharatanatyam and Kathak into the contemporary Canadian dance scene and is an active part of Winnipeg's vibrant arts scene.