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Arpanam: A Soulful Marathon

ARPANAM, a concept & Choreography by Dr Kalashri Lata Surendra was a  soulful marathon! With three Varnams at a stretch as a solo performance and three Ashtapadis etching sublime love!  In fact, it was an offering that touched the penury of receiving hearts with the freshness that highlighted the magic of solo performances much needed today.

The evening unfolded with the  Children of the Kaman soil, the tribal disciples of the mentor reaching out to Lord Ganesha – the aligner of all oddities in Raag Mish Bairagi and Thisra Ekam.  Through chaste, coordinated movements, they sought to do full justice to what was imparted. Their dedication touched every heart present The fact that they had never stepped outside their terrain and were facing the city audience for the first time made the moment ever so soul-filling Post the series of items the Saraswati Kauthuvam embracing the Goddess, as the Seat of all learning and the crisply executed pure dance by the eager and adorable disciples from Kaman, what followed was a  garland of Varnams highlighting the colouring Kinesthetics and didactic essence of Bharata Natyam through three Senior disciples of Kalashri Lata Surendra.

Ananya Iyer doing full justice to Padavarnam – ‘Nee indha mayam,’ composed by Papanasam Sivan in Ragam dhanyasi, The virahotkhandita in the  Dhanyasi Varnam blossomed with each line, eloquent as ever. With. aplomb the jathis were tackled and the sustained approach led to the climax with ease. Kudos to Ananya Iyer for the smooth confident delineation that is the right and only approach.

Varnam in Revati specially choreographed by Dr Lata Surendra with music by Shivaprasad seeped in  Shivoham. It had Shakti and Shiva eulogised with flowing energy through the stylised execution of Rohini Nandakumar. The jathis laced with grace and energy sheathed with ease gathered a colour that complimented devotion and etched.the devotees ardent salutations to the lord of the dance. Rohini has emerged as a fine artist. Restrained at the same time subtle, graceful at the same time forceful, with an approach complimenting  her dedication  that will have her scale great heights in the scenario of dance

Ashtapadi Trio | PC: Madhusudan Menon

Megha Pillai then  won hearts as she brought to life the latest Choreography by Lata Surendra again in the Varnam format in Adi Thalam and  Ragamalika – ‘Kanyakumari Mahima ‘

The saga of Kanyakumari had all glued to their seats as with subtle, chaste anga shudham  Megha gathered the Goddess into her very soul. Her love for her Lord Shiva, Devi’s pristine obsession was ever so endearing in nature by virtue of her being in her adolescence. Each moment was evocatively etched by Megha Pillai. Devi’s awaiting the auspicious  Muhurtham, the depiction of her unguarded longing for union, her decorating the mandapam and sudden realisation of the Muhurtham passing by with no sign of her lord was brought out with the finesse of a  determined artist.

The climax that mirrored Devi’s rage and her mirrored on the shores of the three seas with young dancers coming on with lamps and petals showered on her finally brought Devi Kanyakumari to life sheathed in the demanding kinesthetics of Bharatanatyam. The cross- rhythmic patterns were never so much at ease as they settled in the chaste execution of the fine artist that is Megha.

Agris from Ashram, Kaman tribal sector | PC: Madhusudan Menon

What a splendorous moment it was to have three Varnams touching the very soul of art lovers. The concluding Ashtapadi was the right finale as it was Ekadasi and it was a climax that had all transported to bliss coming with the union of Radha and Krishna. Every artist Ananya as Krishna, Rohini as Radha and Megha as Sakhi absolutely slipped into the roles and in their oneness, the beautiful evening came to life at the end of the day.

Arpanam’s support strength was the competent crisp Nattuvangam & Choreography by Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra, the mellifluous Vocal by Shri Siva Prasad N N,  the Master- touch on the Mridangam- that was reflective of a great lineage by  Shri Dakshinamurthy K Mumbai, Violin by Shri Satish Seshadri, Flute by Shri Nandakumar, Sound & light by Hitesh Thakur, Effects by Nandlal Rele, Lights managed by Shri Pednekar.

Dr Lata Surendra with musicians | PC: Madhusudan Menon

On the whole, as the Mentor Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra put it, “We are at those crossroads where artists either clone videos or are intent in group productions set to ready and available audios in the market or they are ignoring the basic aesthetics and format of the dance form and stretching it to disastrous limits. It is ever so vital to have disciples connect to the format and reach out with the impacting richness of a solo performance. Of course, it is also about their growth and aptitude. But the essential nature of traditional Varnams has you relating to it differently as you awaken to the changing flux around. The colour it gathers   is in keeping with your own growth as an artist and that can be experienced by a solo performer alone.”

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