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Reliving the traditions
- Shilpi Aggarwal

January 24, 2018

Many young dancers these days are trying to infuse innovations in the traditional patterns of classical dance forms, and many a times falter in such attempts. The traditional methodologies nonetheless held their own charm and have contributed immensely in bringing out the beauty, soul and meditative approach to dance, minus which the Indian classical dance will be at peril of losing out on its distinction in the world. A traditionalist to the core, Snigdha Venkataramani came across as an epitome of grace and beauty at her Bharatanatyam recital held at Delhi Tamil Sangam on January 13, 2018. Deeply engrossed in her dance, she left her audiences enthralled with her neat dance moves, skillful choreography and engaging abhinaya.

She initiated her recital with a right blend of sollukattus and adavus in pushpanjali, a musical composition of Madurai R Muralidharan in ragam Saraswati and talam adi and went on to perform to the master composition of music legend Lalgudi G Jayaraman, varnam Angayarkanni, where she skillfully emoted the nine rasas of Goddess Meenakshi - veera when she defeated her opponents in fierce battles; sringara when goddess attained feminine form and lost her heart to Lord Sundareshwara; adbhuta when she was amazed to see the valour of her husband Lord Shiva, among many other emotions. Her performance stood out in an act where Lord Shiva disguised as a vagabond to help an old woman and was whiplashed by the landlord. Every bit of this imagery was captured beautifully with measured footwork and intense facial expressions.

Disciple of Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan, Snigdha wears many hats - she is a teacher, choreographer, composer and vocalist. Currently staying in the US, she took to stage after a gap of two years but nowhere she missed out on rhythm and talam and was striking poses with ease. She was confident of her stance and stamina throughout the performance. She was impressive in her execution of jathis. The jathis of the varnam were composed by Guru Ranganayaki Jayaraman and Thanjavur R Kesavan.

The piece de résistance of the evening was the padam where her twin talent of singing and dancing came to the fore. An exemplary singer as she is, Snigdha made an attempt to relive the devadasi parampara where a performer used to sing abhinaya pieces while dancing. Yaarukkagilum Bhayama in ragam Begada and misra chapu talam is a composition by Madhurakavi Bharati, where Snigdha didn't fail to impress her audience with her intelligent choreography and smart infusion of singing in her dance, without making her tired and breathless. Here, the lyrics, swaras, body movements and emotional expressions were intertwined seamlessly to prove Snigdha's mettle as choreographer, performer and singer.

She was an absolute charmer while acting out the nayika who is unabashed about her relationship with King Lingadurai and in fact feels proud of her choice of being his mistress - the nayika's confident walk full of lasya in face of public criticism, her don't care attitude especially when she pulled her lover inside and bolted the door. The dancer pulled the entire act with great artistic sensibility and finesse, much to the delight of the audience. 

Snigdha concluded her recital with tillana in Vasanthi, a composition by maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman. On orchestra, she was well supported by Thanjavur R Kesavan on mridangam, K Venkateswaran on vocal and Chembai R Srinivas on violin. Her sister Sneha Venkataramani did nattuvangam for this performance.

An ardent admirer of Indian classical dance forms, Shilpi Aggarwal runs her own tabloid on art, culture and travel, Bleisure, in Delhi.