Tamrapatra - Celebrating Annamacharya
- Indu Santhosh
e-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
August 25, 2021
Tamrapatra, the initiative by Natyarambha and Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant, is a year-long learning project of twelve of Annamacharya's rare Sankirtanas. Selected from the 108 Sankirthanas that were set to music by Sathiraju Venumadhav, sahitya delineation of the compositions is by Dr. Anupama Kylash and choreography by 12 leading artistes across dance styles. Spaced out as one session every month, it is a thoughtfully curated and meticulously structured project, allowing participants adequate time to internalise and assimilate the learnings from each session. The second session of the online series was conducted on August 14th and 15th, attended by nearly 75 dancers and students from across the globe. In this session, sahitya delineation as well as choreography was by Dr. Anupama Kylash. Renowned scholar, writer and art critic Leela Venkataraman was the Guest of Honor.
Dr. Anupama Kylash's approach to abhinaya explores the exhaustive possibilities of the lyrics including the layers that clearly manifest, as well as those that are elusive. In her own words, "The attempt is to create an idea bank, which must be studied as independent collections of textual and traditional information or lore, which can be applied to other pieces of abhinaya which carry the same connotations". Thus for Dr. Anupama Kylash, her extensive study of textual tradition and various literary genres, as well as her two decades of training in Kuchipudi and Vilasini Natyam, have evolved the practice of abhinaya into a detailed process and a complete system of knowledge of its own. The process is not just to learn and practice a particular song with a few interpretations and repetitions, rather to explore the gamut of possibilities in the fabric of the particular padam. Learning abhinaya is thus not restricted to just learning a style or body language, making it possible for the practitioners of any style to adapt it to their technique framework.
Annamacharya's sringara padams consist of complex word play, intricate images, metaphors, analogies and paradoxes. They have deep underlying meanings, philosophical and esoteric undercurrents and highly developed sub-text. Annamacharya handled both eroticism and devotion with equal artistic brilliance and articulation. The padam "Talachina dehamu niluvadu", taught by Dr. Anupama Kylash in the second session of Tamrapatra series was a beautiful integration of union and separation. Here Alamelumanga says, "I cannot keep my body still. I have sent a sakhi to bring Venkateshwara. But will he come? I do not know..." Explorations unfolded one after the other ranging from direct word to word meanings to metaphors to implied/hidden ideas. Anupama seamlessly integrated the idea of five senses into the pallavi making the padam a sensitive aesthetic experience right from the beginning. It was unique and interesting to see how we could even reverse the meaning of the lines in the part "ta nanu talachuno talachado" tapping on the ambiguity provided by the lyrics. With her inimitable imaginative ability, Anupama transformed the sixteen upacaras of ritual worship into messengers to Lord Venkateswara! With such exceptional interpretations, she transported us to a higher dimension of delineation of the padam, making it a truly immersive process of learning. As she painted the images and motifs one after the other, brimming with cross references from multiple aesthetic sources, literature, rituals and various other disciplines, the canvas of abhinaya kept expanding and became all encompassing.
I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by Natyarambha and Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant to be the observer for this session. Delving deep into the poetic world of Annamacharya was inspiring and enriching. Times when the duration of pieces including even varnams is only reducing, here is a phenomenally beautiful Annamacharya padam standing tall with half hour duration. This reassures the dancers that padams when explored with holistic and multi-dimensional approach, vivid imagination and scholarly knowledge can definitely become an enjoyable aesthetic experience both for the practitioner as well as the audience. Immersive sessions of this kind will also exude a different energy in our perception, understanding and treatment of the process of abhinaya as practitioners.
Highlights of Session 2
Indu Santhosh is a Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher and choreographer. She is the founder of Vibhavana Foundation based in Bangalore.
Completely overwhelmed by the tremendous response to Tamrapatra! As I finish my session, which is the 2nd in the series, I am left with a feeling of immense satisfaction and gratitude! I couldn't have asked for more! Over 75 participants sharing in my joy and ecstasy over the exquisite images and motifs crafted by the master craftsman, Annamacharya! The most prolific poet in the history of Telugu Padakavitha, Annamayya is unparalleled in range and in artistry. Am thrilled that, through Tāmrapatra we are getting to experience, in different dimensions, the phenomenon called Annamacharya!
- Anupama Kylash
Waiting to soak in Sringara and Viraha at the same time...it's like eating a hot jalebi with a cold ice cream...so wonderful yet taunting....Thank you Ananda akka and Anupama akka for sharing your abundant knowledge.
- Gayatri Krishnaveni Lakshmanan