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A joyous performance by Saibrindha Ramachandran
- Vinita Radhakrishnan

March 23, 2023

On the 18th of March, Saibrindha presented a joyous Margam at Seva Sadan, Bangalore. Even though I had attended her impressive Arangetram about a year ago, nothing prepared me for this engaging, exhilarating, and entertaining performance. Saibrindha, a disciple of Indira Kadambi, began her performance with a Pushpanjali in raga Gowla and misra chapu, a choreography of Late Guru Narmada. From the first beat of the Pushpanjali, it was evident that this dancer owns her stage and has the gift of enchanting her audience with her art. There was a spritely quality to her dancing while she buzzed all over the stage like a bee, keeping you at the edge of your seat throughout.

Saibrindha Ramachandran

The Pushpanjali was followed by a physically demanding varnam, a composition of Subbarama Dikshitar "Yenta nee ne telupudura" in raga Khamas. While the jathi/nritta choreography for this varnam was done by the celebrated Guru Adyar Lakshman, the sahitya was choreographed by acharya Indira Kadambi. Kadambi and her student Apeksha Kamat together recited the jathis for the varnam and the echoing effect it made, especially for the trikala jathi, gave a unique effect to the varnam. The enthusiasm and involvement of the music ensemble was also a delight to watch. Eeshwar Iyer on the vocals, Bhavani Shankar on the mridangam, Pradesh Achar on the violin and Nithish Ammannaya on the flute were probably the most supportive and flexible ensemble any dancer can wish for. While they are all excellent artistes, their involvement in the Margam as supporting ensemble really took the performance to a higher level. Watching Saibrindha perform this demanding varnam in a panache that is extremely rare to see in dancers as young as her, was a treat to the eyes and the mind. While her nritta had an almost bratty quality expected from a 19-year-old, her abhinaya was extremely restrained and mature like a seasoned artiste. And the way she communicated with her orchestra through her dance, making sure she had full control over their attention was truly a delight to watch. It was also endearing to watch how she unapologetically demanded a breather and waltzed around the stage in style before landing into an energy intensive jathi. She showed the maturity and sensibility of a seasoned dancer who has very early on in life mastered the art of conserving her energy.

Saibrindha concluded the first half of the Margam with a playful and racy Javali "Itu sahasamulu" in raga Saindhavi, a composition of Maharaja Swathi Tirunal. Her portrayal of a mugdha nayika trying to dodge the advances of a potential future patron without offending him was brilliant and ingeniously choreographed by Indira Kadambi.

The second half of the Margam started with a padam "Yellam ariven" in Kalyani and misra chapu. Here, Saibrindha convincingly portrayed a khandita nayika conversing with Lord Muruga with bitter sarcasm dripping in every smile and every glance. This was followed by a famous Purandara Dasa composition in Ragamalika "Chikkavane Ivano," a favourite choreography from Indira Kadambi's repertoire. Saibrindha's transition from a frustrated Gopi to a naughty Krishna was seamless and well-executed.

Saibrindha concluded her engaging Margam with the famous Natabhairavi thillana from the Kalakshetra repertoire which is a composition of Tiger Varadachari. While it was evident that this thillana was well rehearsed, what caught my eye was the thillana Saibrindha performed with her eyes. The well-coordinated flirty smiles and looks that she executed during the thillana reminded me of the exhilaration that I experienced while watching Alarmel Valli's thillanas. I did feel I saw glimpses of Valli's style and spontaneity in Saibrindha throughout her Margam. It was truly a joyous one!

Vinita Radhakrishnan
Bangalore based Bharatanatyam dancer Vinita Radhakrishnan 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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