Inspiring Mohiniattam by Gopika Varma
- Balayogi

December 29, 2012

Mohiniattam by Gopika Varma on 24th December at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan manifested from the very beginning the essence of Mohiniattam, namely light footedness and grace firmly built on its edifice and energizing factors of the movements in the shape of eight along with the coverage of the stage in a slow and steady pace with angled movements with the embellishing concomitant cadences of the dips and elevations of the body.

The sublime theme of ‘Salutations to motherhood’ was well introduced first through Mathru Panchaksharam by Adi Sankara which seems to have emotionally charged the artiste and there was sublime marriage of heartfelt emotion, passion, piety and perfection of the art form. The theme was further elaborately emphasized through varnam on Attukal Devi penned by her student Sampreetha Kesavan which brought out the multiple facets of motherhood . Gopika Varma was at her best, probably motivated by the theme bringing out in addition to her usual aesthetic and artistic skills and repertoire, many more facets of her inner self, at times very intimate and even personal delivering on the whole an outstanding performance. Her inspiring rendering brought out the meaning of the compositions in a highly creative manner. She manifested through three main realms of artistic appeal namely physical, mental and spiritual because of the perfect balance of all the four abhinayas - angika, vachika, aharya and sattvika.

Physically, the movement of torso in swaying laya with perfect hasta viniyogas (use of palms and hands) which seamlessly jelled with perfect aduvus was visually delectable. Mentally, the import of the lyric was enhanced with adaptation of vilamba laya and pristine raga bhava combined with apt abhinaya and harmonious limb movements spiced with excellent facial expressions and eye movements communicated the corresponding emotions. If emotion is defined as energy in motion, then one could witness it. Spiritually, the correct combination of abhinaya and the lyrical splendour elevated aesthetic communication into a communion with overall concept of motherhood. The following three items Karna Kunthi Samwad, thillana on Parashakthi and Vande Matharam had the same quality, imprint and impact.

The entire team of writers of lyrics, composers of music and tala has put in excellent work as each one of them not only played their part in the performance but were part of the whole preparation. The whole team besides the dancer needs to be appreciated comprising of vocalist and music composer Arun Gopinath, lyricist and Gopika’s student Sampreetha Kesavan, mridangist and tala composer Nagarajan, violinist Sunil Bhaskar, flautist Vasanth, Kalamandalam Suresh Kumar on edakka, and Swarna Sahasra on nattuvangam.

Balayogi is a music and dance critic.