Sunday, January 24, 2021

The classical scene

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Accomplished performances were enjoyed by an appreciative audience, says CHITRA SUDARSHAN

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Smrithya Balasubramanian

Smrithya Balasubramanian’s bharatanatya arangetram was held on February 25 at the George Wood Performing Arts Centre.  She is the 56th graduate of Smt Shanthy Rajendran’s Nrithakshetra School of Dance.

Smrithya began with a Pushpanjali, alarippu, and an invocation to Lord Ganesha.  Sri Ramachandra Krupalu, a Tulsidas bhajan was next, and was rendered with feeling – bringing tears to many eyes in the audience.  Smrithya’s sancharis included Sita Swayamvaram, Tataka vadam and the abduction of Sita by Ravana. For a debutante, Smrithya’s “natya” was superb: she was the demure Sita one minute and the valorous Rama the next, enacting each episode with apt expressions and demeanour.

The varnam, a Madurai Muralidharan composition on Meenakshi, Smrithya’s sancharis included the portrayal of the yagnya by the Pandyan King Malayadwaja and the appearance of the baby girl Meenakshi, her years growing up like a man-warrior, until her eventual meeting with the Lord of Kailash, Shiva in the form of Sundareshwara.

In the first keertanam after the intermission, Shankara Sri Giri, a composition of Swati Tirunal in Hamsanandi, Smrithya outdid herself with a wonderful portrayal of Shiva’s dance incorporating some really tough adavus, statuesque poses and energetic sequences.  Mrs Rajendran’s choreography was variegated and imaginative, and Smrithya delivered it with the right balance of energy and grace.

The musicians, most of who were from India, consisted of Nandakumar Unnikrishnan on vocals, whose sonorous voice captivated the audience and Suresh Babu on the violin, Thiagarajan Ramani on the flute and Balasri Rasiah on the mrudangam – all providing able support.  Smt Shanthy Rajendran held the orchestra together with her dextrous nattuvangam, as always.

* * *

The Academy of Indian Music started the year with a bang – with a gala concert at the Kel Watson Theatre on February 11.   The evening began with a solo violin recital by a visiting artiste from Canada, Smt Thanathevy Mithradeva, a senior disciple of Sangeeta Kalanidhis, Prof T N Krishnan and Prof M S Anandaraman.  Smt Thanathevy’s short and sweet concert was enjoyed by one and all as she presented popular ragas and kritis; by far her Karaharapriya was soulful and most enjoyable.  Smt Narmatha Ravichandhira’s vocal recital came up next, and her mastery of Carnatic music was evident.

Lisa Young followed on Konnakkol – onomatopoeic imitation of the percussion – and provided a lively finale.  Lisa is a former student of the Academy of Indian Music and graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts.   The evening was also a celebration of Ravichandhira’s recent award, that of the Order of Australia, and Vasan Srinivasan, President of FIMDAV, spoke on the occasion.

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