Bharatanatyam Recital by Kiranmayee Madupu
14th October 2016 Saptaparni
Translating Carnatic lyric poems to dancepoems
- Pratap Anthony
When we see Kiranmayee Madupu dance, we know that we are in the presence of an exceptionally talented dancer. This diminutive dancer has anamazing stage presence. She does not just interpret the poems; she intelligently translates lyric poems to dance, and by ‘translate’ we mean it as A.K. Ramanujan wrote, “A poem can only be translated by another poem. There is no such thing as a literal translation.” That’s what Kiranmayee did. She translated the poetry of Carnatic music to the poetry of dance. Bharatanatyam is her poetic expression.
Kiranmayee was one with the music! Bharatanatyam is collaboration between musicians and the dancer and requires exemplary understanding, involvement and coordination for a successful performance and the musical collaborators on stage with Kiranmayee were: Vocal - Deevi Ravikanth, Nattuvangam (Cymbals) - Srinivas Karra, Mridangam - Subramaniam Karra, Violin - Sai Kumar Kolanka.
Picking stories from Indian mythology that the great poet/musicians of the Carnatic music tradition had memorialised in her margam, which in a traditional Bharatanatyam recital means the path, or the structure of items within a theme (rasa); Kiranmayee translated this suite of dances - to dancepoems. The whole margam was choreographed by the dancer, which she, by eschewing flamboyance, pared down to eloquent expressions of pure yet sparkling simplicity.
Kiranmayee’s margam began with the dance of invocation - Shankari Shankuru | (Ragam Saveri | Talam Tisra Adi | Composed by Shyama Sastri.
Shyama Sastri is one of the ‘Musical Trinity’ of Carnatic music composers, known for his literary compositions. In this invocation, the dancer meditates on Ambika, consort of Lord Shiva, with syllables of the traditional Alarippu (the blossoming – opening up the body), delineating the symbolic aspects of the goddess who on the one hand is the life-giving, nurturing mother of the universe and on the other hand, is the destroyer of evil.
The next item in the Margam Sadhinchene O Manasa (Ragam Aarabhi | Talam Adi | Composed by Tyagaraja, another of ‘The Trinity’ of Carnatic music composers, and one of the five compositions by Saint Tyagaraja that are considered his eternal gems was performed as the centrepiece of the recital instead of a traditional Varnam, which is usually the main item in a Bharatanatyam performance.
In this item the dancer shows her technique, skill, and translation of the music and lyrics to the poetics of dance. In this composition the composer addresses Krishna and His mysterious ways through his role in the great epic the Mahabharata, where He upholds Dharma (the righteous path). And the dancer translates this, depicting his interventions prevents Draupadi from being disrobed in the court by making her garment endless. And when he steals the clothes of unmarried, young Gopikas and yet the Gopikas completely let go of their bodily attachments, shame and modesty, and surrender to him on listening to the divine tunes of his flute. Or He upholds Dharma during Arjuna’s moral dilemma while fighting his own teachers, relatives and friends on the battlefield. Krishna tells him to do his duty and think not of the worldly attachments. Tyagaraja asks Him to come to his rescue and help him attain his moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth) for he has followed all the preaching that the Lord has given.
Kiranmayee depicted the meaning of this song, and portrayed inner emotion by saatvika abhinaya, the articulation of mood, character and emotion through the eyes; through subtle facial expressions and by her entire being. This was a tour de force of a performance, and the dancer displayed her rhythmic talents along with rich and variegated abhinaya (expressions), her footwork (nritta), hand gestures, (hastas). The audience was enthralled and broke into spontaneous applause at many points during this demanding, dramatic and beautifully rendered dancepoem.
Kiranmayee’s next item was a Padam, a love lyric showcasing abhinaya - expression. "Mogudochi Pilichenu (Ragam Sahana | Talam Misra Chapu | Composer Sri Sarangapani)"
In this Padam, Kiranmayee illustrated the emotions of a young married girl; married as a child, whose husband comes back to fetch her, and she bids farewell to Lord Krishna her love. She tells him that it is time for her to go, but urges him not to forget her. She says that the string around her neck, the mangalasutram was something that was tied at a tender age when she was only playing and climbing trees. But now she must leave. She reminds him that the distance between the sun and the lotus does not affect the lotus's bloom. Similarly, her love would continue to be strong, even if she were not in the presence of her Krishna. The emotions of the departing young lover of Krishna were executed by the dancer as if she herself had experienced, understood and surrendered to love; it was as realistic a performance as one can see in a dance recital.
The last item of the programme was the beautiful Shloka-like poetic appeal to Shiva - Shambho Mahadeva ( Ragam Pantuvarali | Talam Roopakam | Composer Tyagaraja
This sweet and melodious song was illustrated in dance with poignant grace and lyricism and was finished by the dancer taking the mike and singing the end of the song. This unusual occurrence was due to the intercession of Kiranmayee’s proud Guru, Hemamalini Arni who encouraged her to sing. And this she did in fine voice as if she was meant to be a singer.
That ended the evening at this wonderful amphitheatre Saptaparni, which had the stage built around a full-grown frangipani tree. And though it was a private performance, by invitation only, the amphitheatre was packed to capacity and we were left with the memory of the dancers grace, her impeccable sense of rhythm, her perfect balance and her lithe and supple movements; her mobile facial expressions, her impressive technique, and her intelligent translation of the poetry of music to the poetry of dance.
Photography credit: Ragalahari
*Sri Pratap Antony is a writer and writes on diverse topics and can be reached at the mail id given above.
*All views are of the contributor.
Credits & Keywords- Kiranmayee, Bharatanatyam, Saptaparni, Pratap Anthony, Hyderabad, Report ,
(C), Do Not Copy, Copyrights Acknowledged, PriyaLasya, Hamara
(C), O16 -BN-1Report-29-1