The Madhuram Academy of Performing Arts festival of dance held this weekend saw the delights of Lord Krishna in various forms and styles of dance come to life. Divya Sriram the organiser and dancing enthusiast also the student of Chitra Visveswaran commenced the Festival with her repertoire in Bharathanatyam. Her graceful stylised ‘Chitra Visveswaran’ component was well evident in her presentation. Expressive and graceful carrying all the marks of Chitra Visveshwaran’s unbounded choreography her main Varnam portrayed the stories of Nayanar and Markandaya whose unfailing love for Lord Shiva is tested. Her footwork was nimble and expressions commensurate to the stories she was telling.
Divya’s contained performance was followed by the crisp extroverted and energetic movements of Pravat Kumar Swain. Swain’s Odissi personified thribanga of the masculine body with nuances of feminine emotions in Madhurashtakam, following the crisp Pallavi set the pace for the rest of the afternoon. This was followed by an involved story telling of the life of Ek Lavya, representing both Swain’s use of a bamboo stand and a real bow and arrow was very tasteful and elegantly represented, choreography of Guru Padmashri Aruna Mohanty, it was dramatic and dynamic. Pravat Kumar Swain was supported by the Cultural Centre recently established in Sydney and sponsored by ICCR.
Reddy Lakshmi’s Kuchipudi walk was the crowning jewel of the festival today (shall stay with me in years to come). Setting the pace with the plays of Lord Krishna to a Bhajan of Swati Tirunal in Shuddha Sarang, she dance mirthily, cajoling and asking the audience whether they had seen the little Krishna whom she had dressed and sent off to wander. In the Nadana Daruvu, she brought Bhamakalpam to life with a vengeance of a heroine jilted by her lover. Every time she entered the stage her walk defined it all. In a few seconds she grabbed your undistracted attention. From a loving mother to the jilted lover, to the all powerful durga in Mahishasura Mardini or that all pervading Lord of Dance, her performance was energetic and engaging from the word go.
Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk Vidha and Abhimanyu Lal re-defined Upaj, improvised movement, in their Shuddha Nritya segment set to Raag Charukeshi and Teen Taal. If Lord Krishna was the favourite for the day, he was here yet again with the Mor Pakha, when Vidha danced as the Radha who dresses herself up as Krishna whilst waiting for him. As she steals his Flute and teases him, her sensuous portrayal was intersperced with fast rotations to layakari that is enviously fast and furious and absolutely precise.
“Naina Lagyo Birha Ki Rathiyan”, a famous composition, was sung by Abhimanyu Lal as Vidha Lal improvised both footwork and expression ridden movements with conviction and beauty. If the Sawal Jawab with the audience and their footwork kept the audience engaged, the demonstration of Rain with only the sounds of the bells truly established that it had been raining dance this past few months in Sydney.
The Festival was presided over by the MP Geoff Lee, Consulate General of India Mr Vanlalwavna and his wife, Dr G Murugesan, an ardent patron and supporter of MAPA. MAPA is paving the way forward by bringing class acts to Sydney this year again.
To those who wish to support its passionate vision towards creating a healthy ground for the propagation of Indian Classical Dance forms in Sydney, MAPA is a dream child carefully nurturing and supporting the arts.