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The Natya Kala Conference 2019: Day 3 - Dec 28, 2019
- Jeetendra Krishna

Dec 30, 2019 

The third day of the Natya Kala Conference began with a sparkling performance of Narthaki Nataraj, who presented the second of 'Legacy Lights' series - solo showcasing of ageless tradition in the lineage of the incomparable dance master, Tanjore K.P. Kittappa Pillai—a direct descendant of Sivanandam of the Tanjore Quartet. Narthaki Nataraj performed before a packed hall and received a well-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of her Margam.

The lecture demonstration 'Shrama Vidhi; An insight into the adavu codification of Maharajah Tulaja's Sangeetha Saramrta' was presented by dancers Uma Nambudripad Sathya Narayanan and Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya, both disciples of Guru Chitra Visweswaran. The Sangeetha Saramruta is a treatise compiled by the Maharajah and mentions various groups of adavus, practised as an oral tradition. Many of the adavus given in this unique treatise are still followed today. Learning of these adavus begins with the aramandi position while the student holds the center of the rod known as Dandika (Dandika Grahana in Sanskrit) at her chest. This was to ensure balancing of the body and spin with correct posturing. This practice is no longer followed but Dr. Saskia Kersenboom's book 'Nityasumangali' gives a more detailed insight on how this training with the Dandika was executed. Uma and Lakshmi both demonstrated a selection of the adavus of the text with the appropriate sollus and mudras. The demonstration of the adavus was an interpretation of the text, the adavus often with an open end, or open for interpretation. Of course this interpretation of the text was earlier in the careful hands of the nattuvanars. The Tanjore Quartet later refined and crystallised the order of the adavus into fixed groups (more or less still followed today) with each definite rhythmic mnemonic syllables that would flow naturally into their newly created repertoire, the Margam. The well prepared lecture demonstration by Uma and Lakshmi is the result of research over the last six months with the support of several resource persons. The presentation was informative and interesting, and presented with clarity by Uma and Lakshmi.

Spanda Dance Company (Photo: Varun Khanna)

The third day of the conference concluded successfully with Nōkkam, ensemble work by Leela Samson and the Spanda Dance Company.

Jeetendra Krishna, Sathir Dance Art Trust, Amsterdam-Chennai.

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