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Rich tribute to Indian heritage

RUPA SRIKANTH

Harmony was the highlight of the performance of the students of Natyamani School of Dance, Boston, U.S.

PHOTO: N.Sridharan.

ABSOLUTE SYNCHRONISATION: Natyanjali being presented.

As the yellow spotlights bathed the group of six dancers on the august stage of the Bharata Kalakshetra Theatre, the earthy colours in their costumes softened to create poetic hues. The beautiful imagery was further strengthened by perfect synchronisation, where every gesture and sway was in harmony.

The dancers were so familiar with the vocabulary of Bharatanatyam that one forgot their roots. It was only their accent that gave them away in the end when they spoke on their four-city dance tour in India. These young girls are from the Natyamani School of Dance, Boston, founded by Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai.

Sridevi's inspired choreography made use of the dynamics of the group and created fluidity within the strict boundaries of the traditional style. Staggered entries, multi-level adavus, changing formations, constant movement on stage and effective friezes added value to the well-rehearsed pieces.

The orchestra was another high point of the programme. Led by Sridevi on the nattuvangam, the highly professional ensemble remained focused on the dance all evening. Their seating arrangement too reflected this involvement all of them faced the dancers and not each other as is the custom. The musicians were: Srivatsa (vocal), Gurumoorthy, (mridangam), Madhusudan (violin) and Mahesh (flute).

The operatic Swati Tirunal kriti in ragamalika, `Bhavayami Raghuramam,' was enjoyable for its melodious musical score and for the dancers' unambiguous storytelling skills.

Meticulous timing

The girls juggled multiple roles with meticulous timing and discipline, yet one would wish for a greater dramatic component to be woven into the storylines. The treatment at times even felt too clinical. On the other hand, the narration was well presented, especially in the line, `Ati ghora Surpanakha' where the dancers related the sequence of events while they moved in opposite directions within concentric circles.

The group displayed excellent timing in the nritta segments. The theermanams recited with authority by Sridevi, sparkled with rhythmic challenges in the guise of changing speeds and nadais. The dancers, however, should work on improving footwork and posture though. There is also a sense of awkwardness in the gait of some dancers that has to be addressed.

``Chandrachooda," a ragamalika devarnama on Siva, ``Kaliyuga Varadhan," a Brindavani padam on Muruga, and a Kalinga Narthana thillana in Hamsanandhi and Suruti, Adi talam completed the repertoire. The dancers were: Ahalya Kodali, Jyotsna Vinayak, Prerana Purohit, Arya Palakurthi, Shivani Shrivastava and Krina Shah. One of them said they had to choose between enjoying a lazy summer holiday back home and dancing in the Indian heat and that they were glad they had chosen the latter... A true celebration of the Indian heritage!

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