Here are a few of my own ponderings on certain recent and not so recent observations with inputs from fellow rasikas. Isnt it a blessing to be surrounded by a few kindred souls? Well, I am not the kind with “the coin has only one side and that is mine” attitude. We are just thinking loudly and I am pressing it into words as we think….
What happens when …
- 1. You have to present a program to an audience, with concentration spans of a pre-schooler during a Bharathanatyam recital ? (Come on I am exaggerating… it cannot be clinically filed under ADD yet).
- 2. The artists have to cater to audience who aren’t interested in watching slow abhinya oriented padams/krithis ec? (OMG 2 halves of a Varnam is an ancient practice J). They are oK with short nritta pieces like Pushpanjalis, Kavutuvams, Thillanas, and very appreciative of some props on the stage like a pot/ some peacock feathers/or a snake’s hood in the costume… A dancer with a pot is good.. a dancer on a pot is excellent.. you get the point?
- As an answer to the above questions if the artistic directors of various companies decide to:-
- a. Heat up the tempo where all adavus merge to become one and the same .(This is the most prevalent approach).This in turn can lead to a multitude of dire consequences..
- i. All (well Ok Most) ardhis and theermanams are lost to both the audience and the dancers? Especially when these are student recitals, the Guru’s arduous samams and usis as well as the changes in nadai become one large mess.
- ii. The Sthayi Bhava is successfully lost..(Well who even cares any more)
- iii. The abhinaya becomes quick mime. Hey no time for the three levels of understanding in appreciating poetry(Padam-Words,Vaakyaartha- Sentence, Dhwani-Inherent tone (hidden meaning)…Don’t get the reason for our lament? Ok here I try to lay my case on your table with an example. Imagine the dancer was miming out lyrics that implied ” Devi the creator of the Omkara , vanquishes the “I” pride in mankind”… all she now does is write up the Om in 2 different fonts( one looked like Gautami, what was the other?) and throw out the hands forcefully in a oblique fashion to simulate a monstrous bulldozer razing out the ego in Man(that kind of force would demolish the man, his ego and the condo he lived in). That’s as much as you get in padartham.. Fine. No allusions to Creation theory, Devi being the Divine Mother, no spiritual awakening as a result of conquering one’s self. Devi is now a fearsome Wall-E ! ..
- b. Bring in Karanas and charis (some resembling Noopuram, Garudaplutha, dolapada,and vrischikarechita.. the common ones you get to see), and myriad “sculpturesque” poses (or the dance itself brought in between sculpturesque poses)?
- c. Introduce slokas anywhere and everywhere with the bells resounding to elevate the cursed rasikas to a spiritual plane?
- d. Jazz up the costume a little bit?
- e. Bring in other art forms to provide a variety?
3. You want to impress the audience with geometric excellence , drawing perfect lines and angles (sometimes at the cost of lasya)?
- 4. The Gurus are learning/getting inspired from the commercial CD’s. What happens if two of your pieces are in Vazhuvur style and 2 others in Kalakshetra and has elements of PS’s Bharathanrithyam woven into it for that extra pep… And at times it also borrows from the Bollywood, Kollywood and Hollywood (That one for the expressions)
- 5. And most important of all if audience shower their ooooo’s , aaas and resonating applause for each pose, and each jathi completed by the dancer? Are they expressing their gratitude at the completion of the torment?
The Answer for all these What Happens when or if questions may by and large fall into the following wide categories …
- a. Under the right circumstances, and with God’s blessings, creative juices flow and some excellent productions shape up. At times it may be in the form of exciting group choreographies giving us, the delinquent rasikas more than a reasonable amount of stimuli to hold our response…At others it may come out as an excellent innovative approach or at its worst an experimental piece that can be tinkered to be a wholesome production
- b. But more often than not… slightly initiated rasikas can’t help feeling that “ignorance could have been bliss”. On the positive side, you will witness the best stand up comedians you will ever get to see..
Well, what if after a seemingly bad show the Artistic Director/Guru walks with his/her head held high, with a pervading sense of accomplishment? But one probably has to remember that the good and bad , the right and the wrong are in one’s own perspective, very subjective.. That production may have touched a section of the audience…
For those who didnt like it: Make sure to make a mental note of not attending the programs by the artiste/group again, to save yourself from experiencing the chill down your spine yet another time.
PS: Does the Lion mount of Chamundeshwari look magnificient or wicked? Should the expression mimic Aslan from Narnia or the Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmations? Well, got it who cares ! Its just that its hard to let go at times…