Gifted Bharatanaatyam dancer from Malaysia
- VP Dhananjayan, Chennai

January 30, 2012

Ajith Dass from Malaysia proved to be a master craftsman in his chosen profession Bharatanaatyam. With all odds against male solo performers in his homeland, Ajith ventured to catch the Chennai season competing against the hue and cry of the local Nartakas.  He offered nothing short of his counterparts in Chennai. These truly devoted artistes spend so much to be on the home ground stages, at times running from pillar to post to get a chance.  They make use of the forum thus obtained to showcase to the best of their ability.
He performed with consummate confidence and his agility and masculine vigour throughout the performance kept the audience glued to the seats.  Every leap and jump, twist and twirl drew applause from a scanty audience of genuine rasikas on 12th January at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, for his performance under the auspices of Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala’s Kala Pradarshini Trust. (Sometimes one wonders when there are empty seats in front rows, why people occupy seats at the back!)

 Ajith Dass has very good technique steeped in dedicated practice and disciplined professional approach.  Though not a very familiar group, he was supported by a brilliant musical ensemble led by Jayashree Ramanathan with impeccable nattuvangam and immaculate, clear and clean singing from a new entrant from the US, Ramya Kapadia, who made the connoisseurs realize that a Bharatanaatyam vocal accompanist needs thorough understanding of the idiom to exemplify the artiste’s ability and agility. Yes, she is also an accomplished Bharatanaatyam artiste who performed in one of the sabhas the next day.

The flute melody of GS Rajan  (who composed music for the opening item “Mahaa Kaaleswara,” the Abhinaya Padam “Vismaya vriksha” and concluding item ‘Moksha’ in Ahir Kalyan to lyrics by V Balakrishnan of Singapore) literally merged with the dancer’s expressions, be it aangika or satwikabhinaya. A rare combination of excellent musicians who must have worked intensively with the dancer for over a period, without which such a smooth orchestration is not possible, especially during this season when musicians are not available for rehearsals. However a special mention must be made of the mridangist Ramamurthy Sriganesh’s unobtrusive brilliance in supporting Ajith Dass for his intricate jathi patterns woven around gati bheda refreshing adavu patterns.

All said and done, as a senior dancer myself, Ajith Dass has to tone down his overall pace and space.  There is need to concentrate on grounded exposition of the facial expressions, and less rhythmical complications while executing the emotional content of the songs. The Charukesi musical composition of Lalgudi G Jayaraman as the center piece with intricate teermanams excellently rendered by Jayashree Ramanathan was the ‘piece de resistance’ exposing the dancer’s ability to portray the Sringara Nayika in a very subtle mode. I wish he could have chosen a bhakti or male oriented song to go with his dancing prowess. The dramatic mood lighting often belied the emotions on his face with unwarranted light and shade on the stage. The fashionable red hair could have been avoided with a better hairstyle. Since he has good physique, good technique and merit, no unnecessary frills are needed to take him to good heights in his chosen profession.

Ajith Dass seems to be a promise for the future from Malaysia where Bharatanaatyam is fast flourishing.

Naatyaachaarya VP Dhananjayan is the director of Bharata Kalanjali school of Bharatanaatyam in Chennai.