Here is an excerpt from Hindu. The dancers talk about their choreographies for this year’s season:-
What’s new? Two simple words. But to choreograph and present a new production at the December festival artistes toil for months. Besides the joy of being appreciated by the rasikas, such creative exercises take them closer to their art.
Veteran or novice, it’s exciting for every artiste to dig deep and discover unknown facets of the ancient art.
Bharatanatyam dancers in the city talk about their line-up for the season
After almost a decade I will be staging ‘Shri Gurave Namaha,’ a group presentation dedicated to Kanchi Paramacharya. Another interesting feature of this year’s line-up is Geeta Govindam – the first 40 minutes will be performed by me to a live orchestra and include the Dasavatharam. In the latter half, my students will join me. It will have recorded music (composed by S.V.Ramanan) from a CD in which I have sung. Then there is ‘Annamayya Pratibha.’ It is about how Annamayya experienced and described Venkatachalapathy. ‘Haridas Geet Nritya’ has been choreographed to a rare compilation of recordings of Swami Haridas. My second performance at the Krishna Gana Sabha is a special one, an evening dedicated to maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman’s compositions.
I did not wish to be part of this season, still trying to cope with life without my musician-husband Visweswaran. But, the sabhas were eager that I present something through my students at least. I have choreographed ‘Skanda,’ a non-stop sequence in the margam format that will be staged by my students at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. I am also reviving one of my old productions, ‘Ramayana’ and senior students of mine from across the country will be presenting an episode, ‘Raghuvamsa Tilakam’ from the epic. I am touched by Mrs. Y.G.Parathasarathy’s gesture of paying a musical tribute to Visweswaran. My students will dance to his recorded music at the Bharat Kalachar.
“Try out new ideas,” the late Yagnaraman told me years ago. So when it comes to my performances at the Krishna Gana Sabha, I don’t like it to be straight-jacketed, and want to make use of the freedom to do my own.
Last year it was ‘Neelam,’ this time it is ‘Faces.’ ‘Faces’ is not entirely a new production; I have taken pieces from my earlier works. It is about the faces of divinity. So there is Durga, Annapurna, Krishna and many more.
I have also included Akhalya who turns a stone because of a curse. She is the ‘faceless’ bit of the presentation. I am working to make the opening different, to get the feel of a theatre production.
am eager to use my voice to do some talking and singing and get closer to the audience.
I will be paying homage to the legendary Muktamma through the padams and javalis of the Veena Dhanammal School. An emotional experience it is, since I owe so much to her. Her bhava-soaked music opened up the world of abhinaya for me. Through the music, I could understand the finer nuances of the words and emote. So much that I would define dance as singing with movement. With this tribute I am in a way going back to my roots.
One of the highlights of my presentation is the work on Madurai, an ode to the ancient temple town. I have composed and choreographed the verse of popular lyricist Vairamuthu on Madurai and will perform it along with my daughters Chitra and Manjari.
Actually I had worked on the lyrics about eight years ago and in a way just reviving it. The work will also feature my compositions on goddess Meenakshi, which includes a tillana. Last year, I really enjoyed doing the power-packed Siva Tandava. It tested my energy levels. This time I will perform Siva Ashtapadi from Shiva Geetimala, a work of the 62nd pontiff of the Kamakoti peetam, at the Music Academy.
Group productions and thematic presentations may be the current favourites, but dancers can never get over the fascination of performing the margam. For, it offers so much variety.
You can showcase your expertise in both nritta and abhinaya through it. This time for a padam I will be performing a Sant Tukaram abhang. Besides ‘Mahila Mahima,’ a tribute to the spirit of women, I will also be presenting along with my students, ‘Aarupadai Veedu.’ I have used the compositions of Papanasam Sivan, Arunachala Kaviyar, Kavadichindu, Avvaiyar’s words, etc., to describe the six abodes of Lord Muruga and the mythological stories associated with them.
A few dancers and I will be performing ‘Ashtanayika’ based on the Tamil compositions sourced by Professor Raghuraman and I will portray the khandita nayika. Besides, abhang and ‘Kalinga Nartana.’ will feature in my margam.
The past few months have been spent in understanding and incorporating the unique rhythmic patterns composed by the maestro Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir. I have choreographed the adavus to his jatis and made them part of my varnam. Another special piece is ‘Lahiri,’ which includes Soundarya Lahiri, Shivananda Lahiri and Sringara Lahiri. It culminates in Amritavarshini.
I am going on a dance pilgrimage through my solo work, ‘Vaishnava Bharati’ that symbolically connects the Vaishnava namam to the map of the country. I will start with Chaitanya Mahaprabu, travel to Puri Jagananath, then to Tirupati, come to Ranganatha Swamy temple in Tamil Nadu, head to Udupi for a darshan of Lord Krishna, will make a detour to Dwaraka through a Meera bhajan and end my spiritual journey with ‘Vaishnava Janato…’
The essence of this travel is that the Lord is everywhere, even in you and me.
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