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Natya Nivedanam of Srinivasan Sridharan
- Pallavi Pathak

March 22, 2021

A natya nivedanam is the proclamation of the fruits of a spirited and committed journey a dancer undertakes with the art form. From the moment Srinivasan entered the stage, like a bolt of blue, rendering the opening piece - a Mallaari in Gambhiranattai - he established for the audience what they were in for during the rest of the performance. Combining grace and unwavering strength, Srinivasan showed us every moment, the sheer joy that springs from within when he dances.

Aided by a masterful orchestra he transitioned deftly into a Panchajaathi Alarippu that was replete with complex tala patterns. He used this brilliantly cut gem of a Bharata Kalanjali repertoire to showcase his neat lines and precision in footwork. During some moments, his energy seemed to flag. However, he was quick to catch this and re-enter the energy of this opening piece.

Arivudaiyor, a beautiful Chakravaakam composition of Gopalakrishna Bharati, was the revived Kalakshetra repertoire for this song. Srinivasan demonstrated his capacity for delving into this rather philosophical composition, where the devotee asks the lord at Chidambaram to take charge of his life and guide him. Though at times he seemed a bit pre-occupied, through this piece Srinivasan demonstrated a growing ability to process abstract ideas through abhinaya.

The Nrityopaharam - the rigorous centre piece of a margam - was next. This Bharata Kalanjali repertoire of a Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma composition extolled the virtues of Lord Krishna using energetic nritta and abhinaya sequences. Not for the faint hearted, Srinivasan executed this piece with unflagging spirit. He entered the space of Krishna with Úlan to provide a joyful viewing of the oft repeated yet evergreen stories of the Lord. Particularly remarkable was the portrayal of the rescue of Gajendra by Mahavishnu. One could see the deep internalization of this narrative in the quality of Srinivasan's movement and emoting.

The second half of the performance began with an exquisite Ashtapadi - Kshanamadhuna - in raagam Dwijavanti. Here, Krishna appeals to Radha to rest her feet for a while after journeying long. He goes on to describing her feet lovingly and tenderly. Srinivasan turned entirely into the tender Krishna, steadily maintaining this bhava to paint a soft picture of divine love (set to abhinaya by Shobana Bhalchandra, senior faculty member). Nee Uraippai - a song from the Rama Natakam - was rendered as an abhinaya padam. Perhaps not entirely exiting the emotional space of the protagonist in the previous piece, Srinivasan seemed to struggle with portraying the regality tinged with pathos in Sri Rama that this piece requires.

The vibrant and unorthodox Kapi Nrittaangahaaram was at the closing of the evening's performance. Srinivasan seemed to be battling tiredness at this point. Nevertheless, there was no compromise in the lines, precision, and form, three clear strength areas, in this young and talented dancer. Srinivasan made it amply clear that he is a dancer with enormous potential to grow from strength to strength as an artist. The supporting orchestra consisted of Shanta Dhananjayan and CP Satyajit doing nattuvangam, Vijeeesh Venu on vocal, K.P. Rameshbabu on mridangam, T.K. Padmanabhan on violin and Sunil Kumar on flute.

Watching a performance at Bharata Kalanjali space with good acoustics, aesthetic and temple like atmosphere lend itself to a mesmerizing experience.

Pallavi Pathak is a Bharatanatyam teacher and cultural enthusiast.

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