Raghava Yadhava- A report.

Raghava Yadhava conceived and artistically directed by Nadarajan Muniandy and Ajith Bhaskaran Dass was a showcase of aesthetics and harmony all the way- invitation, brochures, colour co-ordinated costumes of the dancers, props etc etc inclusive.

The evergreen stories from the shores of the Ganges and Yamuna, the well known episodes from the life of Rama and Krishna go well with most audience.

The first segment “Raghava” was presented by Nadarajan Muniandy and his students trained in the Kalakshetra style at Subranjali Dance Theatre. Nadarajan had cleverly choreographed the pieces to provide opportunities for his students who varied in their skills and length of training. All dancers including the little ones who just had to do some Mardhita across the stage took their work seriously and gave it their best. I am sure their problem areas will all be set right under the rightful guidance of their devoted teacher. The narration itself started with Rama, Lakshmana and Sita crossing the Ganga in Guhan’s boat. The second piece was Arunachala Kavirayar’s “En Palli Kondeeraiya” choreographed in the shapdam/varnam format with medium sized jathis inbetween.  Nadarajan Muninady had strung together Sita Swayamvaram, Surpanaka and Maarichan episodes in between. The last piece of this segment portrayed Hanuman taking the ring from Rama and travelling across the ocean to Lanka and finding Sita in Ashoka Vana. Nadarajan’s simple narration and effective execution, and simple humour carried the message effectively and effortlessly to all sections of the audience including kids. While his students did participate, Nadarajan Muniandy solely carried “Raghava” on his shoulder.

Yadhava, the next segment was Ajith’s baby. He had the flexibility of making it truly a group choreography since he had just 7 of his well trained dancers accompanying him. This group started with Madurashtakam as the opening piece set to the tune of Ghatam Karthik’s Rathipathipriya Thillana. That tune never fails to impress and set a tempo! The Gokula Bala Varnam that followed had some wonderful visuals of Vasudeva carrying his child to Nandagopan’s house, Krishna’s kiddy pranks, Boothana episode etc. The Viswaroopa Darshan to Arjuna was so beautifully conceived- the students lined up behind Ajith randomly flowed out in Avatars ultimately merging back into Mahavishnu . Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer’s Kalinga Nardhana thillana was their concluding item. Ajith’s choreography draws beautiful geometric patterns that covers space and time and tests the fitness levels of the dancers and his students stood up to the task. Ajith’s  Mandi adavus that were sprinkled throughout his segments with innovative variations and utplavanas are a delight to watch. He tried a few jathis using only tripathakam, which still came across as complete and wholesome. His style comes across like a blend of Kalakshetra’s geometry and Vazhuvoor’s spontaneity, if I may say so.

The physique, dancing styles and body language of Nadarajan and Ajith naturally suited the respective roles they chose to portray for the evening and brought out the subtle distinctions in the characterization of the avatars. The dancers were supported by the orchestra that was ably led by Smt. Subashri on the nattuvangum. She was a picture of confidence and control and her jathis with special sollus like “ gumtha” for Surpanaka, “Mriga” for Maarichan etc came out beautifully. The Mridangists, 2 of them were such an asset to the program. They were Theban Arumugam and Pallavarajan Nagendran. The Mridangists also handled ghatam, kanjira etc for the special effects.  Bavani Logeswaran on the vocals, Achyuthan sashidharan Nair on the violin and Balasubramaniam Kalaiyaperumal on morsing did all they could to embellish the program. Since everything else was fine, one did not have to worry too much about the slight sruthi misalignment in the flute department. Meena Kumaree was the narrator for the program.

Nadarajan and Ajith  are both passionate dancers and wonderful teachers who manage to instil the same passion in their students. The students would do well to observe their teachers’ araimandi and how they complete their movements irrespective of the tempo.

And at the end of show Ajith and Nadarajan had more to offer… The audience had to exit from the top and once they exited the auditorium, they were thanked for their presence by none other than Nadarajan and Ajith themselves. I am accustomed to seeing a few members of the audience moving up to the stage or the green room to greet the artistes. This was a first, to me.  All other dancers and dance students were lined-up at the bottom of the stairwell and with their hands in Anjali the kids cutely said “thanks for coming” to everybody who came close to them.  A mami moving in front pointed out “Nadarajan and Ajith don’t seem to stop with teaching dance to their students, they teach them respect and humility and this will go a long way in ensuring their success in lives. “ She’s probably got a point. Congratulations to the teachers and the students!

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6 responses to “Raghava Yadhava- A report.

  1. Hi!

    Thanks.
    Most dance performances here at KL, does not allow unauthorized photography or recording. Secondly, the lighting effects make it hard for ordinary cameras to do a good job. So unfortunately I don’t have photos to share. But I can try to ask the dancers if they do have a few that they would like to share.
    Regards,
    Sangeetha

    PS: On a side note, I at least saw 3 people in front of me clicking away and doing a bit of video recording (one person using his mobile).

  2. Hi Ms.Sangeetha;

    Very well reviewed. Appreciate the detailed information. Both the dancers potrayed their strenghts and creativity. I should also mentioned that the scenes in the dance was well researched.

    How ever, as your report stated “The dancers were supported by the orchestra that was ably led by Smt. Subashri on the nattuvangum” ……. wasn’t sure if that was what I heard. I was at the foyer with some of my friends and we were talking to the dancers and we were told that the music was headed and directed by the violinist.

    We felt that the music and the dance complemented each other really well which is very rare for a dance program.

    Anyway, was nice to see some reviews for a good show being done. Hope to see many more of this, and all the best to the dancers for their future productions.

  3. I noticed how the flute went nearly ‘protected’ in this review. The flutist should rehearse well before a programme as per all other artiste. It was not right, to say the least. Some other flutist’s who are norms in ‘arangetram’s and salangai pooja’s” in Malaysia couldve done a way better job.

    I found the music to be good otherwise, with the vocals maturing in Mrs Bavani. The nattuvangam was spectacular, coming from a female ( pardon the sexism). I found the double mridangam a little weird ( though noted as a new style in most part of India currently) Mr. Sashidaran was exacuting the best in violin and it was nice seeing a morsing in the whole repertoire.

    The dancers were good. I can only say that as I study and apreciate Carnatic music and am not a dancer. What I did appreciate is the production quality of the whole performance.

    Thank you for a good 120mins.

    Glen

  4. Hi Ms Sangeetha,

    You have given an excellent review which has done justice to the gurus/lead performers, dancers and musicians.

    Nadarajan was indeed watchable in his pure, classic Kalakshetra style rendition. I agree that Ajith has brought out his own exuberant style by the fusion of the Kalakshetra/Pandanallur/Vazhuvoor schools. Very vibrant indeed!

    Both Ajith and Nadarajan did a fantastic job and it is always a rare treat to watch really good bharata natya recitals especially in Malaysia.

    I do hope that we will get to see more of them and their students as well as other dance companies.

  5. Thanks Glen, Emmanuel and Akesh for your comments.

    Glen,

    I am glad to see you noticed the flaw too. I sometimes get this feeling that I am the only one complaining. (probably to do with aging and cynicism). I understand your disappointment with the flute performance. But to cheer you up let me tell you something, there were only 2 instances that I really heard the flute. Possibly the artiste realized that it was best kept to the minimum since the Sruthis didnt match.
    I thought I noticed Bavani finding it hard to get back to the sruthi after a flute segment and had to rely on Achyuthan to find the thread back 🙂

    While at it, have you read the views expressed in the series on Music for dance- A Survey report in this blog???
    Variation in repetition is important to take being good to the excellent levels. Let me explain this from my angle.

    varuvai hanumane in Kaapi ragam.

    very small Pallavi right? Small pallavis are alaways a challenge (to make them interesting)!

    Goes like. (for lack of formatting tools, pardon my simplistic notation)

    NS NP , MP NNS ( cant hear this more than twice)
    Varu vai Hanu Mane

    GR NP , MP NNS (can bear this for another 2 times)
    Varu vai Hanu Mane

    If only these 2 sangathis were used, especially when we are accustomed to repeatedly hearing compositions in Kaapi, the typical formula ending of MP NNS can get very boring leading to auditory fatigue.

    There was a time in Madras , when a certain section of the audience attended dance programs just to hear Madurai Sri Sethuraman, or Sri Rajashekar et al., singing. A simple pallavi of Keeravani Jathiswaram would take on so many hues. And varnams with vistaramana sancharis were not only a visual treat. Their Charukesi, Dhanyasi, Nattakurinji and Bhairavi Varnams still ring in my ears.

    Regards,
    Sangeetha

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