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Inauguration of Natya Darshan 2019
- Sukanya Kumar
Photos courtesy: Natya Darshan

December 27, 2019

The 19th edition of the Natya Darshan Dance Conference was inaugurated on December 20 amidst an august gathering of luminaries at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai. Hosted by Kartik Fine Arts (KFA), conceptualized and curated by dancer Priya Murle, this year's conference titled 'KADAMBA - the flowering path' explored the physical, emotional and spiritual impact of dance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and performances.

K.M. Narasimhan, President KFA, gave the welcome address and detailed the activities of KFA, particularly the Kartik School of Dance. Shekhar Sen, Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, chief guest of the evening, labelled Bharatanatyam as 'a complete art form.' "We are very happy that Chennai was declared the city of music," he said. His rendition of a poem by Lalith Kishori describing Lord Krishna's eyes was a melodic opening on a sustained note literally. Janaka Pushpanathan, Director - South India, British Council Division, guest of honour, said that the mindfulness of artistes is the need of the day to make the world a better positive place. She conferred the title 'Natya Chudar' on Varsha Sankar.

Malavika Sarukkai was conferred the title 'Nritya Peroli' by Shekhar Sen. In her emotionally charged acceptance speech, she dedicated the award to her "courageous friend" and mother's "unswerving belief" in her dance. "Bharatanatyam is a precious and vulnerable art form that requires a conducive ecosystem to flourish," she averred. Padmalaksshme Suresh received the 'Nrityajothi Award of Excellence' and the 'Madura Kalamani Award' was presented to Mohiniattam exponent Gopika Varma.

ABHAI and NaMaargam Dance Company launched 'Natya Sreshta - Legacy of the Legends,' a digital archival project in an effort to preserve exclusive recordings of veterans of Bharatanatyam for posterity.

Uma  Nambudripad Sathya Narayanan

The evening recital by Uma Nambudripad Sathya Narayanan, a senior disciple of Guru Chitra Visweswaran, commenced with an energetic Mallari in Sankeerna Jathi triputa talam set to Gambheera Nattai ragam. Swati Tirunal's varnam in Bhoopalam, Saadhu Vibhatam Aagatam, presented a lighthearted reflection of every mother's ordeal of waking up a child. How can he sleep with so much work to be done? Uma incorporated all of Krishna's feats in detail in the sanchari.

It was an interesting mishap that when Uma was depicting milking of a cow, and a calf nudged her, the physical jerk coincided with the accidental breaking of her necklace beads, making it appear intentional. In delineating the lines 'Paapa vana dahana,' her portrayal of the six sins using references relevant to today's issues drew a clear picture that was relatable to society.

Sakhi he, the ashtapadi in ragam Shuddha Sarang set to misra chapu talam was a sensitive rendition of the eternal bonding between Radha and Krishna that extended beyond the sringara to the spiritual. She concluded with a tillana in ragam Valaji set to misra chapu talam composed by Madurai N Krishnan. Uma's methodical musical training was visible in the melodic fluidity of her movements.

Srikanth Gopalakrishnan on vocal, Vidya Anand on nattuvangam, R Thyagarajan on flute and K Venkatasubramaniam on mridangam, provided the befitting orchestral support. Light design by Sukanya Ravindran was effective and unobtrusive in enhancing the recital.

Sukanya Kumar is a practitioner of Bharatanatyam and Kathak genres trained under illustrious gurus. She is a Creative Culturist, and choreographer skilled in implementing electronic media technology in her productions to propagate social messages. She has a BSc in electronic media, MFA in Bharatanatyam, MBA in Educational management and MFA in Dance and Technology.

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