Tapas Dance Festival

January 24, 2012

This year’s Tapas Dance Festival presented a blend of classical dance forms performed by leading dancers from 8th to 14th January at TN Rajarathinam Pillai Muthamizh Peravai Hall, Chennai.

The program on 8th started with a Bharatanatyam recital by A Lakshman.  With perfect execution of adavus and manifestation of his remarkable energy levels in nimble movements, the recital was a fitting tribute to Guru KJ Sarasa. Lakshman's depiction of Krishna in his Charukesi varnam is probably the most moving one this season. His boundless energy was evident in the padam 'Chittigave.’ 

The Bharatanatyam recital on Jan 9 by Swarnamalya Ganesh who gave an excellent exposition of the dance form incorporating her own innovative skills, revealed the versatile talents of a multifaceted personality. The scintillating Kuchipudi performance by Sailaja on Jan 10 was marked by flamboyant footwork and aesthetic expressions. She performed with total intensity and naturally the audience sat spellbound. Her orchestra was equally accomplished and provided seamless synchronization. Their rendering of “Shankara Shree Giri” in Hamsanandhi enhanced and embellished the performance.

A Lakshman
Swarnamalya Ganesh
Narthaki Nataraj


On 11th Jan, the Bharatanatyam recital by Narthaki Nataraj was true to her guru’s lineage. She enthralled the audience with a chaste, crisp and charming presentation sans irrelevant frills and acrobatics to which unfortunately many dancers resort to very often nowadays. She had excellent support from her orchestra as they had to sing very rare and tough compositions. The vocalist brought out all the beauty of Thodi weaving some excellent phrases. The announcer described the details of each piece enabling the audience to understand the nuances of the items better.

No other dance form can match Kathakali when it comes to costumes and decoration which itself is enough to be the cynosure of all eyes. The Kathakali recital on Jan 12 by Sadanam Balakrishnan and PT Narendran was of high caliber and their excellent expressions had the audience watch in pin drop silence. If face is said to be the index of the mind then Guru Balakrishnan had the index of an encyclopedia in his face. A whole range of subtle expressions were conveyed in such superb ways. The orchestra made the optimum use of ragas to bring out the many splendors of Kathakali.

PT Narendran & Sadanam Balakrishnan

Jigyasa Giri’s group
The 13th Jan witnessed an exhilarating performance by the energetic and enthusiastic group of Kathak dancers of Devaniya along with their guru Jigyasa Giri. Kathak being the highest form of visual arts which manifests the much needed religious syncretism between Hinduism and Islam, it carries with it the artistic splendor from both the religious cultures. Like her guru Dr. Maya Rao, Jigyasa Giri has boldly ventured into innovations and experimentations and that too with more stress on esoteric and philosophical aspects of spiritual journey which is quite difficult to represent in any dance form.

Mahalakshmi Ashwin’s presentation on Jan 14 was the apt finale not only to the week-long dance festival but to the religiously charged last day of the month of Margazhi as she presented a thematic performance on Andal, wherein one could also appreciate the beauty of nature through Andal’s words. Proper lights, excellent orchestra which lent rhythmic strength and harmony and astute composing boosted the dancer’s intrinsic abhinaya. She chose 'Mennadai Annam' from Nachiyar Thirumozhi set in Ragamalika followed by a padam 'Engum Kuzhalisaiye' penned by Ashwin Kumar Iyer set in Sahana and Kaapi. The jewel in the crown was the Guru Pada Stotra Panchakam written by Ashwin Kumar Iyer that she presented after the thillana. A well done margam.

Mahalakshmi Ashwin
Vidhya Tapasvi award
The valedictory of Tapas Festival culminated in the presentation of the Vidhya Tapasvi awards that are presented every year to eminent musicians and dancers for their contribution towards bhakthi oriented traditional fine arts. For the season 2011-12, the honours were conferred upon TV Sankaranarayanan (which was befitting especially this being Madurai Mani Iyer's centenary year), vocalist Sowmya and dancer PT Narendran. The awards were presented by Narayana Vishwanath, eminent musicologist and Prema Pandurang, spiritual preacher and philosopher.