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Abhinaya Nagajothy - A worthy disciple
- B. Naveena

January 22, 2021

Bite-sized pieces...this could perhaps describe the online offerings of artistes in the current times. On January 10th, Abhinaya Nagajothy of New Delhi presented a 30-minute Kuchipudi recital under the aegis of the Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation, founded by Bengaluru-based dancer Deepa Sashindran, as part of the 'Navapallava' series of promising talents. Abhinaya's mother and Guru is Seethakumari, one of the senior-most disciples of maestro Dr. Vempati Chinna Sathyam.

Abhinaya presented 2 items- a Keertana (Brindavana nilaye) and a Thillana (incidentally in 'Brindavani'). The former is one of the gems that shines radiant in the coffers of Dr.Vempati's classic choreography. Set to lilting Reethigowla, this composition of Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer is akin to his other compositions, with chaste and vivid Samskrtam lyrics, set in a bouquet of speeds, lending itself well to classical dance. Abhinaya proved herself a worthy disciple of the legendary school she belonged to, despite feeble audio that was not par for the course. The tempo of the song too, was a tad less vivacious than how it is usually heard in Kuchipudi.

The Thillana was a choreography of Abhinaya's parents, Seethakumari and Nagajothy. It followed sincerely the template of Dr.Vempati's aesthetics, barring the dance on the brass plate which had a few avoidable elements. Granted, it is this portion that draws the maximum applause. But it is not heartening to see dancers play to the gallery by reducing it to acrobatics, a la bouncing on a trampoline. Abhinaya kept jumping from the rims of the plate to the centre, back and forth. No doubt this called for a giant crucible of practice, but itdid not appeal to the discerning spectator. Innovation should not attenuate the classicism and finesse inherent in the art. Even the tempo of the song upped too drastically, as she embarked upon the plate. The dancer recited the jatis in a few places, but why she did not mime the songs (as vaachika is an element of Kuchipudi), one does not fathom.

Both the items chosen were movement oriented. Fastidious yours truly did feel the lacuna of a piece that centred on expression. To put it ironically, there was no piece on abhinaya in Abhinaya's recital! The green-black costume was elegant, but the starkly unadorned braid, an emblem of Kuchipudi, did not show up on the black blouse and seemed to spring up from the green portion.

Abhinaya is a natural talent and has put in arduous practice to hone it. Here's hoping that time, coupled with a keen observation of nuances, make this fresh sprout (nava-pallava) a sturdy tree!

Naveena holds an M.B.A. in Human Resources and an M.A. in Samskrtam. She speaks and writes on language and the fine arts. She enjoys being a translator, singer, linguist and quizzer.

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