- Shveta Arora
Photos: Anoop Arora

December 12, 2014

Sharanya Chandran and R. Amritha Sruthi, disciples of Geeta Chandran, presented a duet Bharatanatyam performance at the IHC in Delhi on 19th November 2014. ‘Samyukta’ was part of the ongoing celebrations marking 40 years of dancing career of their guru. On conceptualizing Samyukta, Sharanya said they already had the music of ‘Samyukta’ from a piece they did in 2010, and wanted to revisit it as a duet. It was an attempt “to explore movement, keeping the grammar of Bharatanatyam pristine. It is an exploration of space, sound, music and movement viz-a-viz the other.”

In the Shiva stuti, Shankara Jatadhara, the duo depicted the four arm stance of Shiva, the lord wearing snakes around His body, Ganga flowing from His hair, and the five elements - water, wind, fire, earth and ether. The stances were well synchronized, with leg lifts and cross-legged postures. For this piece, nattuvangam was by Guru K.N. Dakshinamurthy, vocals by O.S. Arun, mridangam by Bejjangi Krishna and violin by V.S.K. Chakrapani. Amritha presented a solo to a Meera bhajan in raag Maand. The passion of the bhakta to serve the lord was apparent in her abhinaya as she showed the sewa, stringing flowers into a garland and making chandan for the lord. Nattuvangam was by Guru S. Shanker, vocals by Vasanti Krishna Rao, mridangam by Thanjavur Keshavan and flute by G. Raghuraman.

The solo by Sharanya was of literary interest since Vidyapati is an ancient Mythili poet who wrote beautiful poetry. The composition was about Radha, who is waiting for Krishna when Kamadeva strikes her with his arrows. She is sitting and stringing flowers when a very petulant Kamadeva troubles her. She tells him that striking arrows is a case of mistaken identity, for he should save his arrows for Shiva. She compares herself in Ninda stuti to Shiva – while she adorns herself with sandal paste, he smears himself with ash from his yagyas. She wears a beautiful saree and he wears the skin of a lion. She wears a bindi and he scares with his fearsome third eye. She wears flowers in her hair and he carries the river Ganga and the moon in his matted locks. She wears her gold ornaments and he wraps snakes around his neck. Her hair is plaited into a veni and his are matted into jatas. She tells Kamadeva that she is Bama, not Baam. Sharanya was at her expressive best. Selection of music and choreography for this piece was by Jamuna Krishnan, nattuvangam by Geeta Chandran, vocals by Sudha Raghuraman, mridangam by Lalgudi Sri Ganesh and flute by G. Raghuraman.

The high point was the title piece Samyukta performed as a duet. Samyukta literally means a union. It was the synchronization between two bodies which looked similar. Amritha and Sharanya are of the same height, the same body type and used the same body language for this piece. The current times see a lot of rivalry, jealousy and competition between people. So to see two people in perfect harmony, giving each other space and moving in symmetry, was a pleasure. It was an abstract piece adhering to the grammar of Bharatanatyam. The music score was interplay of beats, silences, slow alaap leading to crescendo and then again coming back to silences. It featured various instruments like gongs, ghunghroos and morsing. The music was composed by Geeta Chandran in collaboration with Sudha Raghuraman and G. Raghuraman, vocals by Sudha Raghuraman and mridangam by K. Shivakumar. Aesthetic costumes by Sandhya Raman enhanced the appeal.

The finale was a devi stuti Omkara Karini, a composition by Dr M. Balamuralikrishna in raga Lavangi, adi talam, sung by O.S. Arun. The lyrics describe the Goddess as the mother or sister, who is benign and blesses all, and also as the vanquisher of demons who threaten mankind. The stances, the synchrony, the abhinaya were finely executed. Sharnya and Amritha did their guru really proud.

Shveta Arora is a blogger based in Delhi. She writes about cultural events in the capital.