Madhuram Festival of Dance once again was successful in generating great interest of dance enthusiasts for their Festival which was held at Bryan Brown Theatre in Bankstown on 16 April 2016. Kudos to Divya Sriram and Kalpana Sriram, a mother daughter partnership, who work hard through out the year to bring the best dancers to the shores of Sydney.
In a stand out performance drawing from the traditions of ‘yakshagaana’ (dance that was performed outdoors with intermingling spoken work deliveries), Sreelakshmy Govardhanan, was a festival success.
Presenting ‘Dharavu’ where the nayika enters as Sita she settled into her role in Ragam Yadukula Kamboji She launched into truly communicating with her audience. Taking them with her she explained the story of Madhodari whose beauty captivated the ten headed twenty handed Ravana. Ravana beseeches, coaxes, entices, and finally only when he submits himself to her does Mandodari reluctantly agree to accept him as her husband. If this was an usually unusual story it definitely was not so unusual to an audience who could relate to the ‘plotting and then pleading Ravana’.
Written by Poet Siddendra Yogi a well known piece in Kuchipudi, “Siggayeno Yemma” in Ragam Madyamavathi the nayika tells her friend to go bring her husband back to her. When asked who is your husband she shies away and then says how can I bring his name to my lips ? Rendered beautifully with interspersed jathis and rhythmic phrases this piece hit a nerve with the audience.
If Ravana had been given a Hero’s role who ultimately puts his pride aside and succumbs to love, the next character also negative, depicted a conniving Pothana who comes to the doors of Krishna’s house to poison him with the milk of her breast, instead Krishna drinks life out of her in turn turning her into the demoness she was and ultimately releasing her from her present form. Her ability to move from portraying the male and then female characters, one of the hardest things to do for a dancer, conquered Sydney audiences.
A most beautiful entertaining enthralling and engaging performance. Kuchipudi seen through Sreelakshmy was truly a reward this evening.Might I add without any lighting effects, drum rolls Sreelakshmy conquered Sydney audiences through pure expression and ability conveying the meaning of her movements to her audiences. Fantastic Scintillating in every way !!
Vishal Krishna, the Kathak exponent belonging to a long lineage of dancers from the Benaras Gharana and Grandson of Kathak Queen Sithara Devi entered the stage like the magnificent Nataraj. Standing tall with one leg lifted, Vishal’s cosmic dancer was light footed as he heralded the many rhythmic turns and twists to many a thihaees and reylaas with accurate arithmetic meticulousness. This was followed by the pure nritta piece where footwork was predominant energetic and precise.
Breaking into a feminine role of Kaushalya in Tumaka Chalatha Rama Chandra, Vishal expressive portrayal of chasing little Rama who hides from him, then picking him up, playing with him were very picturesque and beautiful.
The Tarana that followed continued to display more complex footwork with rapid turns in fast succession to the tune of Ragam Kalavati in Amir Khusro’s composition. Vishal concluded with a Meera Bhajan, in Barse Badariya Sawan Ki displaying Meera awaiting her beloved Shri Krishna as thunder, lightning and rain reflect her yearning for Lord Krishna.
Divya Shiva Sundar, the torch bearer of the Dhananjayan stylisation of Bharathanatyam, portrayal of ‘Matha Parashakthi’ in Bharathiyar’s composition set to a ragamalika, was introspective, restrained and controlled in the main piece of her recital ‘the Varnam’.
Without getting into the drama of telling a mythological story, her sanchari concentrated on depicting the five elements like the five senses that comprise the universe around us and within us.
As with the message and the philosophy, her dance leaned towards ‘bhakthi rasa bordering on ‘Shringara’ each time she described the three goddesses. The sculpturistic poses were scintillating. The jathis which interspersed her sanchari bhaavams were interesting.
At one point, she commenced pure nritta and footwork, in the tradition of Kathak dancers, in a ‘sawal jawaab’ interplay with the mridangam beats. Some bharathanatyam fans might have questioned why introduce such a rhythmic interplay in the middle of a such a varnam which carries a strong vedantic message ? Nevertheless the Sydney audience unquestioningly enjoyed the performance.
Her next item of ‘Chaliye Kunjana Mo’ described the love between Radha and Krishna when they meet amidst the kukkoo birds, to the accompanying flute, beside the river Yamuna, Brindavani came to life in Swati Tirunal’s poetry. Some of the shringara rasa was seen to continue in this piece.
Followed by what I would contend was one outstanding choreography and masterpiece in expression carrying the stamp of the Dhananjayans in ‘Idai vida’ set to ragam Saveri when the heroine accuses Muruga of having cheated on her. She concluded with a thillana in Kuntalavarali composed by BMK.
Christopher Gurusamy, a student of Kalakshetra and a dancer from Leela Samson’s production company, he was energy personified. Young and vibrant he established that dance is indeed enhanced when both mind is willing and the body rigged through hours of practice across many years. His Aramandi was exhilarating, his leaps and jumps produced some breathless moments. In the traditional recital format true to this form of dance, he commenced describing Muruga, the God on the Peacock, followed by an Alarippu.
In the main piece, the Varnam, Christopher maintained audience attention as he advanced through the various expressions, stories and cryptic rhythmic patterns. He too successfully traversed the journey as he swapped in an instant being the heroine and then the hero. He concluded with Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi Kshana Madhuna in Ragam Dwijvanti, followed by a Javali both choreographed by Bragha Bessell and finished with a thillana. It is good to see young dancers such as Christopher Gurusamy in Sydney as part of this Festival.