I recently had the great pleasure of watching the “Bharatanatyam” performance of Shijit Nambiar and Parvaty Menon. Thanks again to IFAA Dallas for arranging this concert.
First let me explain a little bit about “Bharatanatyam”.” Bharatanatyam” is one of the oldest forms of classical dances of India. It was very popular in south India, in the temples, where dance was also a means to express devotion to the deity. A Bharatanatyam performance is filled with rhythm, “Abhinaya” or expressions, complex finger and hand formations, postures requiring great balance. The background music is usually live music set in Carnatic style of singing.
India has been a cradle for “Bharatanatyam” and many other types of classical dances for ages. “Bharatanatyam “ can be a solo performance, a group performance like a dance drama. Shijit Nambiar and Parvaty Menon are a husband and wife team who perform “Bharatanatyam” as a couple. This definitely makes the performance more realistic to watch, as the characters can be played by multiple performers as opposed to a single performer playing multiple roles in a solo performance. Another benefit is the realistic portrayal of the various “Rasas” and “Bhavas” eg: In a Radha Krishna dance form, the lady performer can portray the emotions and subtleties of Radha and the male performer can portray the mischievous nature of Krishna more realistically. But it is also quite common to see the solo performance of a lady performer who portrays both Radha and Krishna in the same session with convincing charm and grace.
Although I arrived a little late at the concert, and I missed a few minutes of it, I was able to attentively grasp the center piece of the concert – “Varnam”. The composition is “Saarasa Shara Sundara” composed by Swati Tirunal, “Raaga Neelambari”,” Taala Adi”. I came to the concert without any expectations. But when I watched this performance, with various stories unfolding so wonderfully, I was mesmerized. I had tears in my eyes, and I knew it was going to be a tremendous concert. The performance included stories of Draupadi “Vastrapaharana” and other stories, highlighting the greatness of Lord Vishnu and his love for his devotees.
The next composition was a “Jaavali” presentation by Parvaty Menon. It is called “Sakhi Prana”, composition of Dharmapuri Subrayar, set in “Raaga Chenchuruti” and ”Taala Trishra Triputa”. It was a dramatic piece, with focus on “Abhinaya” or expressions. The heroine is awaiting the arrival of the hero. But he does not come to her, as he is with another lady. The heroine is sad and angry and hence expressive of these emotions.
The next piece was a dance composition to showcase “Ardhanaareshwar”.” ArdhaNaareshwar” is a unique concept in Hinduism, which depicts the divine form of God Shiva, in half Male and half female form. “Ardhanaareshwar” is that coming together of the perfect male and the perfect female to create something much bigger.
The subsequent composition described the story of Sudhama visiting Krishna with a handful of rice flakes. What followed this was a dance for the composition of Soordas called “Khelne Chalo Sangini”. In this dance drama, Krishna entices Radha to accompany him to a beautiful garden. The way he coaxes her into this, and the way innocent Radha agrees, was tremendously sensitive. The one part that seemed really clever is when Radha and Krishna try to see some birds in the garden; they step in tandem, without making a single sound. This part was performed by, Shijit and Parvaty such that when they walked their dancing feet with the anklets made no sound. I was so surprised; they were able to do that.
The live orchestra group gave a superb performance. The group included Murli Parthasarathy on vocal, M.Venkatakrishnan on “Nattuvangam”, Easwar Ramakrishnan on the violin and R. Karthikeyan on “mridangam”.
The dance performance was a visual treat..with perfect harmony, perfect synchronization. great postures, and intricate rhythm. Shijit Nambiar and Parvaty Menon are artists, with great potential for achieving something magnanimous in the field of dance. MusicNamaste wishes them all the very best!