Krishnabhadra's elegant performance
- Vijay Shanker
January 23, 2023
Guru G.V. Ramani Natya Kala Foundation presented 'Natya Nivedanam,' a complete margam in the Bharatanatyam style by dancer Krishnabhadra Namboothiri, disciple of Gurus Gayatri Subramanian and Shobana Bhalchandra on 4th December 2022 at CIDCO Exhibition Centre auditorium in Vashi, Mumbai. The performance was noteworthy for the dancer's command over technique, fine combination of elegance and vibrancy and the precise execution of intricate rhythmic patterns.
The aesthetic aspect of classical dance is of prime importance but today in contemporary society, there are too many dancers in the rat race of competition, trying to impress rather than express. Krishnabhadra's performance was a rare exception. Watching her was sheer delight, in fact her performance reminded me of the veteran dancer Kumari Kamala. The natural elegance with which Krishnabhadra consistently danced, whether it was the traditional Alarippu, elaborate Varnam or the intricate Thillana, maintaining perfect araimandi and the clarity of movements with rhythmic precision, was the hallmark of her performance.
After the invocation, Krishnabhadra performed a unique Alarippu composed by Dr Guru Bharadwaj and choreographed by Shobana Bhalchandra, in one of the marga talas, Chachaputa which has 26 aksharas. Using the typical structure of an Alarippu, the dancer depicted water in its different forms. The Amritavarshini Jathiswaram, a composition of Guru Rajee Narayan was a garland of jathis set to swarams. This was a fine combination of music, melody and rhythm proving the point that music and dance are inseparable and music is always an extension of dance.
The Shabdam incorporated the story of Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the Lord of the Ganas, the intelligent one who did a pradakshina of his parents when asked to go around the world and the one who is the remover of all obstacles. It was a brilliant choreography of Guru VP Dhananjayan choreographed for Shobana's arangetram way back in 1979. Krishnabhadra pleased the audience with her natural and innate command over abhinaya.
The piece-de-resistance of the program was the Bhairavi Varnam, the most elaborate and complex number of the Bharatanatyam repertoire in which the nayika tells her sakhi, "Oh dear Sakhi, Nanda's son Krishna, I can't stop thinking about him. He has stolen my heart, I pine for him. Can you please tell him to come to me right now?" While narrating his mischievous pranks, the dancer describes the episodes of Kalia, the evil uncle Kamsa, his childhood friend Sudama, the vishwaroopa darshan in the little mouth of Krishna, his protection for Draupadi and much more. A beautiful composition of Periyasami Thooran, "Nanda Gopalane" was a rare experience to watch the young dancer, changing expressions in split seconds, as per the requirement of the scene enacted, a versatile dancer indeed which was further revealed in the Padam on Lord Nataraja defining the "Ananda tandava swaroopam" as he dances joyfully, while Nandi plays the maddalam, Brahma for talam and Narada plays the harp, a brilliant choreography of Shobana Bhalchandra, "Nadamadum Nathan adi malare thunai" was well executed with the incorporation of varied poses, akash charis and stylized and intricate movements that was impressive. Another Padam in Malayalam, specially selected for the Malayalee crowd, portrayed vatsalya bhava about the relation of Krishna with mother Yasoda, a composition by V.P. Dhananjayan.
Quite different from the classical mould, Kavadichindu with the typical folk touch and movements, excited the packed audience. It is said that wherever there is a hill, there will be a Kumaran temple, and as devotees carry the kavadi on their back up the hill to visit the Lord, they sing this song "Sindhumetta", a thrilling dance with the jumping and swaying folk dance movements with a lively display that was refreshing. The grand finale was the Lalgudi Jayaraman Thillana particularly known for its complex rhythmic movements with stylized dancing.
Krishnabhadra received brilliant musical support from Guru Gayatri Subramanian and Shobana Bhalchandra on nattuvangam, mridangam by Guru Bharadwaj, Radha Badri for vocal, Mangala V on violin, and flute by B. Muthukumar. On the whole, it was a brilliant performance. The comperes of the program were Dhanya Namboothiri and Seema Rao.
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.