“A woman is like a tea bag. She only knows her strength when put in hot water.” said Nancy Reagan, and three women very passionate about their art form, Indian classical dancing, came together on the 4th of May at Seymour Centre under the auspices of Natyanjali to realize and express the power of women, the Shakthi that helps one survive the roller coaster ride, in common parlance referred to as life…..the flutter of excitement, the furnace of fear, the pinnacle of pleasure and the pangs of pain.
Aruna Iyengar started the performance in the Kuchipudi style extolling the beauty and strength of the Pandya princess Parvathi. Fleet footed movements typical to the Kuchipudi style was very cleverly incorporated and executed. The impersonification of the demon and Devi and the battle of wits between the two to expand on the phrase chamundeswari was very effectively presented. This was followed by Monica Singh performing in the Odissi style, Monica made a strong impression the minute she walked in with a slight sway of the hips so typical of the Odissi style of classical dance. The curvaceous movements and tribhanga posture dominated Monica’s item in contrast to the quick, crisp movement of the Kuchipudi style. Aruna Subbiah demonstrated the all pervading presence of Devi using the medium of Bharathanatyam. Geometrical lines and patterns representative of this style of dance was predominant in the jathis alternating with abhinaya to show the power and beauty of Devi in all things living.
The confluence of all this beauty and power was visualized in the collaborative piece where the three women decided to put the tea bag in a pot of boiling water. Three instances of choice and change from the reality around us, a girl child breaking free of the shatters of tradition (presented by Aruna Iyengar), a young woman experiencing the pain of separation (presented by Aruna Subbiah) and a mature woman coming to terms with life after the loss of her mother (presented by Monica Singh) was presented with intensity and narration both through the language of words and dance. Mention must be made here of the musical accompaniment where Uma Ayyar, Sangeetha Ayyar and Sumathi Krishnan on vocals, Balaji Jaganathan on violin, Mohan Ayyar on the keyboard and Janakan Suthanthiraraj on Mridangam added many dimensions to the thoughts and ideas expressed on stage. The musical fusion was beautifully co ordinated in the finale with alaaps on synthesizer by Mohan, violin by Balaji and soulful and touching vocal by Sumathi Krishnan. This culminated in jathis in the three styles and final verses sung by Sangeetha Ayyar and Aruna Parthiban in Carnatic style and Hindustani by Sumathi Krishnan
Ojas- Magic through movement
“How did she do that, it is like magic!” exclaimed five year old Vishakha in the audience as Nirupama did about thirty spins(chakkars) gliding effortlessly around the stage .It was nothing short of magic that Nirupama and Rajendra wove through the medium of Kathak in the second half of the show. Their presentation was a marvel in stagecraft, encompassing aspects of choreography, synchronized movement, relationship between dancer’s self and stage space, music, costume and narration, all bejeweled in aesthetic beauty.
Poise and balance initiated the first item, Yugal where the earthy tones of green and brown made a firm impression on the audience. The audience was soon lifted to the world of dreams in the second item, Shringara Rama where the momentous experience of the meeting of Rama and Seetha in Mythila was elaborated. Sensual imagery of sound, as Rama hears the tinkling of Seetha’s anklets before he sets eyes on her and the manner in which Seetha experiences Rama’s presence in nature around her through sight, sound and touch touching a deep chord of romance in every member of the audience. There was a moment of humour when the sakhi returns speechless at the sight of Rama. Nirupama and Rajendra in white and gold went around in swirls creating the dream sequence, the vision of recognition and togetherness shared by Rama and Seetha, taking the audience with them.
The audience was further lifted from a dream to the clouds as they presented Varsha a dance representing the monsoon. The dance was an expression of rejoicing and being one with nature and with a symbolic blue costume Nirupama and Rajendra took it step by step from the first drops of pitter patter to the storm of thunder and lightning till the audience were drenched in a torrent of music, dance and rain. The contemporary sequence Tha dha kept the audience in anticipation and the final sequence on love and peace in the words of Dr.Divya Sriram “The fusion with Flamenco was interesting. It was interesting that they linked the romance of flamenco with the classical genre of love in their dance…. That was clever.”
Charming and vivacious Nirupama with dignified and dapper Rajendra captured the hearts of many that night with their energy, creativity, innovative sequences and the audience walked out of the auditorium with the feeling of having enjoyed a visually rich and wholesome treat.