Debutante duo impress with skill

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Sisters Bhairavy Jayakumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar present a joint arrangetram. N. SANTHANAM reports

A duet in a Bharatanatyam arrangetram can be ambitious, as the partners have not only to keep beats and movements individually to the music, nattuvangam and mridangam, but also to do so in perfect harmony. Bhairavy Jayakumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar acquitted themselves well at their recent debut performance at the Science Theatre, UNSW in front of a large appreciative audience.

Both jointly went through the main dance routines, and performed one piece each of the Padams.

After a brisk start to the proceedings with a vocal invocation to Vinayaka, the duo did justice to Pushpanjali in Gambiranattai with a Ganesha slokam and the well-known Vasantha Jathiswaram of the Tanjore Quartet. Serving as warm-up, this early act introduced the dancers wonderfully.

They then took on the demanding task of dancing the Nattakurinji Varnam, Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Swamy naan undan adimai’ in Adhi Talam. Here, the nayika or the maiden in divine love is totally lost in Lord Sivan’s personality and exploits: she tells her close confidante in some detail of how he looks radiant in all glory and comes to the rescue of his devotees in their times of need. The stories of Markandeya and Nandanar were elaborated.

The innovative choreography made sure that individually and in unison, the dancers could show all their abilities with flying colours. Bhairavy as the nayika portrayed the actual dressing while Lord Sivan as imagined by her in his tiger skin and matted hair with the crescent moon and the flowing Ganges was portrayed by Vaishnavi simultaneously. This aspect of the choreography was especially appreciated. The dancers posing one behind the other in depicting Nataraja with his halo, and again as Ardhanari, were truly memorable. A short suddha nritta exchange between the mridangam and the dancers, was just as enjoyable.

This Varnam with five levels of jathikorvais interspersed with story-telling was beautifully executed indeed.

The special guest Mrs Gowri Pravind, herself a dancer from Malaysia, was all praise for the sisters’ scintillating performance. She also had words of appreciation for the nattuvangam, the inventive choreography and the harmonious blend of music, as well as the dancers’ brilliant costumes.

The choreography and nattuvangam was ably handled by Padma Balakumar the guru and artistic director of the Nrityagriha School of Dance Sydney.

Just as the dancers were presented individually and together, the two vocalists of the day shared the burden between themselves. Shruti Balaji is proving to be a good foil to the doyen Prema Anandakrishnan. Their sruti and laya were in sync.

The mridangam is an important element in dance as keeping the beat to be in sync with the nattuvangam brings out the best in the dancers. Janakan Suthandhiraraj as an experienced dance accompanist dis his bit well.

The melodic and rhythmic accompaniment provided by Balaji Jagannanth on the violin and Devaki Vignesh on the flute added to the overall pleasurable experience

The second session took on a more dramatised descriptive version of the stories strung around Gods and Goddesses. Every effort seemed to have been made to include the important deities Vinayakar, Sivan, Subramanyan, Vishnu and Devis.

An interesting piece by Arunachala Kavi in Ragamaligai Yenpallikondeeriyah lets the dancers depict particular incidents from the Ramayana and Mahabharata that could have fatigued Lord Vishnu, to lie restfully in all glory as Lord Ranganatha at the island Srirangam.

The sisters also exhibited their talents in individual pieces. Vaishnavy brought to life the Chenchuriti raga Kavadichindu of Periyasamithooran on Lord Muruga of Palani.

Srichakararaja Simhasnesvari in Ragamaligai gave plenty of opportunities to Bhairavy to portray Devi in her myriad forms.

Not to seem totally partial to the Tamil language, the guru made sure that the sisters could also understand and bring the best out of Purandaradasa’s Jaganmohananey Krishna in Ragamalikai.

The fast tempo of the somewhat difficult but popular Sivaranjani Thillana of Maharajapuram Santhanam, earned the sisters a lot of praise for their synchronised execution.

The program ended on a high note with a standing ovation. With such appreciative support and through their own continued dedication, the sisters can hope for a bright dancing future.

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