Divya and Chitra perform unique numbers 
by Lakshmi Kannan, Chennai 
e-mail: lakshmivn@yahoo.com 
November 5, 2003   

The mere art of dancing has the power to do away with all grievances and sorrow and is illustrated by Sri Sarangadeva who was blessed by the Lord with a keen sense of perception. The recent performance of Divya Malayappan and Chitra Swaminathan, students of Sri Gurulaya dance school at R R Sabha, Chennai filled the ambience with divine vibrations due to their unique choice of performing numbers. As the very name suggests the performance opened with Pushpanjali offering floral salutation to the lord. This piece is usually tuned in Nattai, Gambheera Nattai or Hamsadhwani but the dancers here chose to present this item tuned in Hamsanadham. Oothukaadu Venkata Subbaiyar's "Aananda Narthana Ganapatim" followed. Both the dancers played their parts well particularly when they froze showing various poses of Ganapathi. 

Usually in a Margam (one complete set of numbers that is to be presented in a performance), the Pada Varnam or Chowka (slow tempo) varnam occupies the central place but Divya and Chitra presented the rare Navagraha Taru varnam elaborating on the importance of the nine planets in one's life. This piece had enough scope to prove the dancer's ability to handle nritta and abinaya. Chitra danced the first half of the varnam while Divya handled the second. The varnam was both interesting and educative. This suddha dhanyasi varnam was a fine relief from the usual sringara based varnam revolving round the stereotyped theme wherein the lovelorn nayika waits for her lord who is usually late and finally bribes the sakhi and makes her agree to be her messenger. 

The post varnam session had two popular numbers 'Devi Neeye Tunai' (Keeravani) of Papanasam Shivan - performed by Chitra and 'Saarasamukhi' (Gaudamallar - resembles Aarabhi) in praise of Mysore Sri Chamundeswari composed by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagawathar. The gaudamallar number performed by Divya, though a popular number on the Kutcheri stage, is rarely performed by any dancer. Both the dancers seemed to perform their assigned padams very casually in a relaxed manner. Yet another number 'Chinnanchiru Penn Pole' in praise of Ambal was performed together by both young dancers. The Kamas Thillana and the Mangalam remained fitting finale to the performance. Both Chitra and Divya have a fine physique and mobile face suitable to dance. With little more practice and years of experience they no doubt have a wonderful future in the world of classical dance. Guru Tanjavoor Rajalakshmi wielded the nattuvangam with dignity while Bhama Visweswaran (Vocal), Sekar (Mridangam), Muthu Kumar (Flute), Sundararaman (Make up) also share the credit. 

Lakshmi Kannan is an exponent of Bharatanatyam and Kathak and runs her own dance school Jathiswaraalaya in Chennai.