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A family affair
- Vinita Radhakrishnan

July 6, 2022

On June 26, the Art community of Bangalore witnessed a unique treat at Seva Sadan, lovingly served by the Ambalam family. Dr. Ramya Suresh, the latest entrant to the Ambalam family, proved her mettle, as yet another Ambalam gem, with a splendid execution of a very carefully designed traditional Margam.

She began her recital with a shloka on Lord Muruga, followed by a crisply executed Alarippu in thishra gathi Chaturashra triputa tala. This was swiftly followed by the pièce de résistance of the day, a Tanjore Quartet Varnam "Sarasa ninu ipudu" in Karnataka Kapi. With her beautiful abhinaya, dancing eyes, and immaculate nritta, Ramya sailed through this hour-long piece like a breeze, engaging every rasika till the last second. While Ramya nailed the character portrayal of the nayika, flirtatiously urging for the attention of Lord Brihadeeshwara, she not once lost track of the rhythm support rendered wonderfully by Harsha Samaga.

Dr. Ramya Suresh

This was followed by a rare and endearing and engaging Purandara Dasa Devarnama "Boochi Bandide" in Ragamalika. This was one of the most captivating and popular pieces of the day. While it may be a very light piece on the mind, it was a rich experience for the rasikas, thanks to the stunning choreography of acharya Indira Kadambi and the out-of-the-world rendition of the music by vocalist T.V. Ramprasadh. The fine balance between the hasya and vaatsalya bhava was tackled by Ramya with finesse.

The second half of the performance began with one of the popular Ashtapadis, "Natha Hare" in raga Desh. The aharya and the grace of the dancer made her look like a celestial being. With the melodious music execution by T.V. Ramprasadh who was accompanied by Mahesh Swamy on flute and Vishnu on navtar, the rasikas were transported to the bowers of Vrindavan, witnessing the Sakhi negotiating with Krishna urging him to put an end to Radha's pining. Ramya's switch between characters was so skillful and efficient that almost like a magician, she managed to manifest them all at once on the stage.

The spell Ramya cast with her Ashtapadi was only broken by a very peppy and fun Javali "Appudu manasu" in raga Khamas in which she played a teenage Nayika smitten by the machismo of the handsome Lord Venkateshwara. From the pining Radha to this bubbly teenager who is oblivious to the pining of love, was a much required flip of mood to ease the rasikas out of the intense Ashtapadi trance!

And finally, as a tribute to her late Guru Bhanumathi, Ramya concluded the recital with one of her Guru's choreographies, a thillana in raga Bageshri. There was no hint of exhaustion on the face or in the body while she aced through the thillana with absolute precision and attention to detail. It was like poetry in motion, only made sweeter with her love and respect for her guru.

Apart from Ramya's outstanding performance, what breathed life into this recital was her support system which sat right next to her like a strong spine. Her mother-in-law and mentor Indira Kadambi on nattuvangam, her father-in-law T.V. Ramprasadh on vocal and her husband Vishnu on navtar sat there with pride and confidence, accompanying her dance. What a blessed dancer she is! I'm sure, just like me, most rasikas walked out of the auditorium with their hearts filled for having witnessed such a beautiful family affair!

Vinita Radhakrishnan
Vinita Radhakrishnan is a Bharatanatyam dancer based out of Bangalore. She has a Diploma from the Attakkalari Center for Movement Art with basic training in various contemporary dance techniques, Ballet, Kalari, Chhau and Deverattom. Professionally, she is a Patent Attorney and is currently working as a Senior Partner at BananaIP Counsels.

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