- Bhavanvitha Venkat

September 28, 2014

Mahanatam was presented by Raja and Radha Reddy and daughters Yamini and Bhavana on September 11, the first day of the seventh edition of Vysakhi Nrithyotsav organized by NMDA at Visakapatnam.

Raja Reddy in his introduction explained the concept of Mahanatam and the Tandava Lasyam in the item. He explained how the approach to the choreography of the item takes a magnanimous view in its interpretation to include all living beings, not just the humans. The maestro’s approach was to follow the Tandava Lasya found in the universe through the narration of gathi- chari and karana. The universality of the item prepared the rasikas to expect a wonderful performance.

The lights and the music that filled Kalabharathi made the evening a special one right from the moment the performance started. Kuchipudi that followed was executed to the delight and awe of the rasikas. There was energy and meditative quality in the performances of all the team members. The senior guru was all energy in the tandava, his moves were sharp, quick and invocative of Shiva (I could hear the whispers of men half his age appreciating his fitness).Radha Reddy with her lasyam beautifully contrasted the tandava. There was harmony of the forces. The young dancers depicted the jubilant world of all living beings flourishing in the divine union of tandava and lasyam. The elements soon merged as the audience too become a part of it, a true test for a classical dance.

Raja Reddy transcended and as Lord Shiva he was the ultimate and cosmic force at the very foundation of the entire creation, of srishti sthithi samhara. Lasyam from Radha Reddy was gentle, graceful, feminine and evoked the flourish of the union. The very essence of creation was so artfully communicated through the richness and scope of Kuchipudi expression. To cite one example, the chemistry of Lord Shiva and Parvati as they look at each other was divinely romantic and at the very next as they together shift their look towards the srishti, it was that of parental affection. The distinctness was clear and visible to the hall. It’s not easy to be so speaking through each gesture that the dancing duo produced. The magic of the narration as Raja Reddy explained in the beginning by way of example of the universality through the gathi-charana and karana were visible through the mayura gathi - peacock gait. The message was complete.

Yamini, Shloka, Bhavana and Mahesh danced naturally. The training that had gone into each move was union of practice, celebration, and yes, inherent tandava lasyam. Off the stage too, the genuine expression of warmth and affection flowed to those who met the Reddys after the performance. ‘Unpour tous, tous pour un’ - All for one and one for all.

Due credit should also go to Kousalya Reddy for the production, for the beautiful music, for the lighting to Sai Venkatesh and to the organizers NMDA’s Vikram and his team for the performance being brought to Visakhapatnam. Mahanatam is our very world. Each of us would like to experience it once again. Also during the festival, Raja and Radha Reddy were honored with Vysakhi Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bhavanvitha Venkat is a Kuchipudi dancer and writer. He is a finance consultant, advisor to cultural institutes and likes to work on creative ideas.