A passion for natya
- Anita Shanmuganathan
e-mail: anishan1968@yahoo.com

January 15, 2012

Unfazed by the intimidating and overwhelming cultural environs of the dance and music festival in Chennai, young Shriya Srinivasan held her delicate presence with unpretentious élan at RK Swamy auditorium for Vipanchee on December 26, 2011.

From the moment of the performance with a mallari to the mangalam, using the traditional premises of Bharatanaatyam vocabulary she radiated contemporary sensibilities. Her performance is best described as an integration of the kinesthetic and the aesthetic with the cognitive intelligence of perceiving and understanding the art from the perspective of a young adult. There was no compulsion to interpret the language of dance in any other voice but her own.  The sense of her movements flowing through her body uncorrupted by pretentiousness lent the dance sincerity not commonly observed.

Shriya commenced her recital with a crisp mallari followed by the famous Thodi varnam “roopamu juchi” where she proved her skill in executing rhythmic complexities to perfection and a range of emotive capabilities. While it may be argued that she could have been more involved in her portrayal of a nayika’s love and devotion for Lord Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur, what drew the rasika was her sincerity in translating every verse with child-woman maturity. Particularly in the second half, in her rendition of the Purandara Dasa Krithi, “Jagadodharana,” Shriya was a young maiden in awe of Yashoda. She infused the song with a heart-rending innocence and no trace of a desire to emulate her famous mother and guru, Sujatha Srinivasan, whose rendition of the same song was the best I have ever seen.  Similarly, in playing young Sita in “Yaro Ivar Yaro,” Shriya was the innocent and shy princess, Sita.  What was noteworthy was the confidence and grace with which she stepped into emotive ranges through the repertoire.

The performer and the accompanying artists came together as a well choreographed unit of the elements of rhythms supported by Sujatha Srinivasan on the nattuvangam and Anil Kumar on the mridangam, and mellifluous songs rendered by Hari Prasad and Srilakshmi on the violin.

One must congratulate guru and mother Sujatha Srinivasan for finding the perfect balance between exacting training of a teacher and compassionate nurturing of a mother, and for infusing into Shriya’s experiential realm a passion for the arts.