On the 8th January 2016, Amritha Lahiri presented a Kuchipudi Performance in The Music Academy, Chennai in the morning session. Amrita trained under Smt Anuradha Nehru, Smt Swapna Sundari and Sri Kishore Mosalikanti and Bharatanatyam from Smt Leela Samson.
Amrita’s performance had an interesting, a well-planned approach to make an impact in the one hour fifteen minute slot. She thoughtfully performed each of her Gurus choreographies and chose them to follow a sort of a mini-margam by itself. The emphasis was on beautifully crafted works, defined energy patterns and exploration of soulful expressions demanded by the lyrics.
Setting high expectations with a Natesa Koutam, she was all at ease absorbing the weaving of dancing delight with crisp and rich nritta in every moment. This piece is a favorite of many young Kuchipudi dancers and a classic out of classical items. Master Vempati lives eternal through many such precious gems.
The second piece was from the traditional Usha Parinayam, a pravesa dharu “Vedaley BhaNuni Varasutha” choreographed by Smt Swapna Sundari, a solo excerpt from the Kuchipudi dance drama tradition.
“Princess Usha is a young girl, the daughter of Banasura, her heart full of unfulfilled desires. She dreams one night of a handsome young man, who embraces her, kisses her. New to the ways of love, she wakes from her dream, and says to her friends, 'While I was sleeping, something shook inside me, tell me friend, what was it?"…"Who was that handsome boy?." And the nayika finds support in her sakhi Chitralekha as she expresses her emotions, her eagerness to reunite with her handsome prince.
The selection was clever as the piece gives the dancer an opportunity to distinguish the Kuchipudi dance drama elements, placing it in a manner to present the scope of her talent and potential. One can sense the distinct thinking in the choreography and the introduction to the high emotive content, to the romantic plight of a Mughda Nayika well presented by Amrita! To a Telugu, the word “BhaNuni” and “VarasuTHA” may have to be spelt even more clearly. That is as far as the song is concerned. (Bhanu may lead to different interpretation altogether).
The third item was "Sakhi Praanasakhutditu Cheseney”… (Ragam Chenchurutti, Aditaalam) a Telugu javali, composition of Dharmapuri Subbaraiyar, set to dance by Leela Samson.
"My friend, my beloved, my very soul, has done this to me",
"He spoke so sweetly, saying he would return instantly, but I saw him join the other girl in her house!"
"When in a playful mood of love, I called out to him, he spoke such uncharitable words! My friend, this is what my beloved, my very soul, he has done!"
A beautiful Bharatanatyam choreography that Amrita presented was a surprise she brought into her Kuchipudi recital. The presentation was truly poetic and the beautiful course quickly established as each word of the nayika resonated in the expressions of the dancer, and the ragam transported ever more increasingly with the narrative to give a lasting experience, of redoubled grief of trusting good words of a lover at first only to be heartbroken completely thereafter. Once the nayika feels lost with “unmentionable abuses uttered by her Nayika, who now is with another girl” the ending as the lights dim, evoke strong sense of loss of purpose as hopes depicted by fading smoke thin out. Perhaps there could be some hope..!
The final item, “Jaya Jaya Durge…” a Tarangam, recognised for the dance on the plate, was made to praise Goddess Durga, a choreography of Jaikishore Mosalikanti, in Ragamalika, Aditaalam.
The dancer describes and praises Goddess Durga, her war on evil, destroying demon Mahishasura, and then depicting Her bestowing prosperity with affection upon Her devotees. Elaborating “jitha vairi” the vanquishing of the demons is given prominence and it is here the exquisite jathis are used in the narration explaining the fierceness of the Goddess. The postures and patterns stand out as an example of Sri Kishore’s imagery, making spaces within for visual narrative (for rich jathis, brass plate, and graceful dance), and perfectly executed by Amrita Lahiri. “sarasa maNi noopura sangata pAde”where the brass plate is used fits perfectly in to the literature. A lot more needs to be written about the choreography. This particular piece can be presented by only those dancers that have a firm grip and control, timing and practice, and needless to say, physical fitness of a soldier.
*The good things about this presentation are
· -The dancer’s preparation for each item, the selection, the content and spotless adherence to the rhythm, pattern, emotive expression as each piece demanded. So good was the nritta, one could sense perfect measure consistently maintained in each execution of similar alike movement.
· -Since the choreographic works are from different Gurus, the rasikas got to experience the mastery of each of them distinctly.
· -The nritta and abhinaya content, the drama element in the second piece and the brass plate in Tarangam, together provide “completeness” to the recital.
Dancers like Amrita Lahiri bring fresh perspective to Kuchipudi performances by exploring into the vast scope the dance-style has to offer, by the way it is presented, by the narrative content and by their very own unique satvikabhinayam, research and study. The support she received was very good and the credits:
Nattuvangam- Aadith Seshadri,
Vocal- Srikanth Gopalakrishnan,
Mridangam- B Haribabu.
Flute- B Muthukumar,
Violin- Eashwar Ramakrishnan,
*Quote- "If come from inside you, always right one". Miyagi - Karate Kid
Perhaps Music Academy should consider making it a 90 Minute slot next season.
Note - *Views expressed in the report are of the contributor.