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Vivacious performance by Divya Ravi
- Shobanaa Bhalchandra

July 3, 2022

Covid times led to a million online programs making it tiring for the viewers and when Divya Ravi messaged me to watch her online presentation, I accepted it with a lot of trepidation. To my surprise, the program proved a worthwhile investment of my time. Divya Ravi presented her Margam in Bhavans London which was telecast live. The young and enthusiastic Divya started with Maragatha manimaya of Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyar's keerthanam. A rather unusual number in a Bharatanatyam repertoire, Divya presented it with agility and brightness, setting the stage for what was to follow.

Divya Ravi

Divya's technique had excellent coordination of movements with sharp footwork to match. One could see geometric patterns emerge as she started dancing. An interesting treatment was given to this keerthanam and Divya's presentation enhanced the choreography. The only movement which was out of sync was the fully stretched leg on the side to show the peethaambaram.

The Kalyani varnam, Sarasijakshudu of Shivanandam, was the next number presented. The thanam in the beginning showing the lotuses merging to show the Lord Padmanabha with the naval lotus was a novel start to the varnam. Divya did full justice to the choreography as she danced in gay abandon. She brought the image of Padmanabha and the yearning of the nayika to unite with him with clarity and precision. The jathis were crisp and Divya wove a rich tapestry with her angika and sathvika abhinaya. However, Divya's usage of stage space was limited to the center predominantly, while doing nritha, especially in tatti mettus, which are primarily designed to cover space.

The magic of the nayika and the lord got lost in the charanam when Divya started interacting with the musicians. The sanchari of stringing the veena with her long hair was a little out of place in the otherwise beautiful varnam.

Jagadodharana, a devarnama by Saint Purandara Dasa followed the varnam. The poet wonders how Yasodha was able to play with the one and only savior of the world, thinking that he was her little boy. The contrast of the two sides of Krishna could have been more striking. The sancharis, although beautifully executed, were not appropriate. While presenting abhinaya pieces, one ought to remember that casual walks and loosely held mudras aren't aesthetic. A little spicing up with lokadharmi looks beautiful but when overdone, it starts to look like a stage play.

The finale, Brindhavani tillana was creatively interspersed with Chaliyae Kunjanumo and was presented with vivacity and sensuousness, bringing the imagery of Radha and Krishna. Divya, a bright star in the horizon, was like an energy ball exuding confidence and maturity.

Shobanaa Bhalchandra
Shobanaa Bhalchandra is a senior performer, teacher and educator. She is the artistic director of Tharanginee. As an empanelled artist of ICCR, Shobanaa has performed for various prestigious international forums. She is now the creative/executive director of Bharatakalanjali, Chennai.

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