Destined for dance
Madhumitha Jayaraman’s arangetram showcases a remarkable artistic journey
Madhumitha Jayaraman’s expressive eyes and emoting repertoire never fail to dazzle. For a decade now she has been an integral part of Rasika Dance Academy, taking on challenging roles and executing them with maturity and poise. Imbibing her guru Manjula Viswanath’s quest for perfection, she is a rising star who is destined for great things. Currently completing a degree in psychology at UNSW, the talented artiste believes Bharatanatyam is her destiny.
Madhumitha’s arangetram at Gillian Moore Centre, PLC was a testament of her enormous self-discipline and single-minded devotion to the ancient art form. It was also a moving tribute to her beloved father, Dr Jayaraman, who passed away two years ago. “As I perform, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever,” she stated, seeking his blessings ahead of the performance.
Few in the packed auditorium that night could contain the tears of sadness and joy as guru and shishya teamed up to craft a beautiful tableau showcasing this remarkable young woman’s artistic journey.
The arrangements were faultless – from the beautifully decorated foyer, well presented stage, multimedia and back stage support, live orchestral ensemble to eye-catching wardrobe.
The ability to bring out each student’s unique strengths has always been Manjula’s forte. Leveraging on Madhumitha’s emotive maturity, technical prowess and substantial stage experience, Manjula set high benchmarks for her dedicated shishya.
The demanding varnam with its complex sancharis is a case in point. Testing her stamina as well as command over nritta, nritya and natya, often considered the three pillars of Bharatanatyam, Sri krishna kamala natho offered Madhumitha the perfect blank canvas to display her expertise as a consummate raconteur. Depicting the story of Lord Krishna, from birth in prison, as a child with divine qualities, to eventual manifestation of ‘Viswaroopadarshan’ as Arjuna’s Saarathi in battlefields of Mahabharata war, each still was memorable. The crisp and gripping narration of Devaki and Vasudeva’s imprisonment, his subsequent escape through the raging storm, portrayal of Kamsa as child slayer and Puthana’s tortured demise showed the dancer’s complete command over the intricacies of dance form. Innovative choreography ensured that the audience was wholly engaged throughout the marathon rendering.
“Capturing the entire story of Krishna, this unique style of varnam with crisp jathis and detailed choreography involves a lot of work and is very popular in Bangalore,” Manjula explained. “The elaborate sancharis however did not slow down the pace of the energetic narrative.”
Madhumitha clearly excelled in this challenging piece.
The evening commenced with the invocatory Ranga Anjali in Raagam Madhuvanthi, specially composed for the arangetram by vocalist Balasubramanya Sharma.
An elaborate representation of Ganeshapancharatnam followed, with energetic Mudaakaraatha modakkam contrasting sculpturesque postures, intricate footwork and subtle emoting.
Madhumitha chose a Lalgudi composition for her Jathiswaram, a pure dance piece, stringing together mudras, adavus and jathis. Savouring the contrasting moods and every little nuance, the music ensemble for the night was simply outstanding, with Balasubramanya Sharma in the lead supported ably by Balaji Jaganathan (violin), Bala Shankar (mrudangam), Narasimha Murthy (flute) and Jeiram Jegathesan (ghatam and morsing).
Considerable thought and meticulous planning had undoubtedly gone into the theme, song and costume selection, with each segment reflecting different aspects of Madhumitha’s complex artistic persona and skill set, acquired through rigorous training. Her lavish wardrobe with its bold colour schemes accentuated the performance.
In the second half, Madhumitha invited her audience to glimpse more subtle expressions and graceful movement as she embarked on the Padam in Raagam Purvikalyani. Pradosha Samayadi, again another demanding piece with a number of jathis, focused on nritta and bhaava.
The two Keerthanams were a study in contrast. Steeped in abhinaya, Papanasam Sivan’s Naan Oru Villayaattu Bommaiyaa was a deeply introspective piece that aptly reflected Madhumitha’s own predicament in the rollercoaster called life. Seeking strength and compassion from Goddess Uma as she bears the travails with grace and humility, the item mirrored human suffering and the eternal quest for solace, finding answers in her lotus feet.
Vishamakaara Kannan eulogised the mischievous Krishna in a joyous celebration of his mystical grandeur. Injecting a generous dose of humour into the narrative, this mirthful piece represented a complete selection of bhaava, nritta and natya. There was unbridled joy and roguish delight as Madhumitha, completely at ease with the role-playing, delved into antics that stole the hearts of Yashoda and gopikas alike. Like lush strokes of vibrant colour, her expressive eyes painted a thousand portraits of the truant Krishna and his myriad exploits.
Madhumitha’s odyssey culminated with a brisk and energetic Thillana in Thilang, a tribute to Lord Raama and his eternal servant Anjaneya, once again specially written for the arangetram, leaving an indelible impression in the hearts of those gathered.
“I am so happy for Madhumitha. Her talent, enthusiasm and relentless effort have resulted in this promising journey. Bharatanatyam is interwoven into her life. And this is just the beginning,” an emotional Manjula declared. Madhumitha’s mother Nalani could not have been prouder.