|Rama and Dakshina Vaidyanathan|
The choreography by Rama Vaidyanathan seemed a perfect blend of the traditional and the modern, the spiritual and the worldly. The music was provided by four musicians from India. Most impressive was the flute of Rajat Prasanna whose teasing melodies were underscored by the percussion of Nattuvangam; the Mridangam (a type of drum) was played by Ramamoorthy Sriganesh and the chanting, some of it in Sanskrit, was provided by Dr. S. Vasudevan and K. Venkateshwaran. We heard the sound of an harmonium but we didn't see one onstage.
We know very little about this type of dance but we watched with rapt attention and observed how important is the articulation of joints in the fingers, wrist and neck. Every little movement seems to convey meaning, even the eyes. We also noticed that the fingertips and the soles of the feet are stained red to emphasize the hand movements and the foot stamping.
There were movements that took our breath away, one of which involved graceful twirling of the wrists until the form of a lotus was created.
Looking very much like sisters, the two women are mother and daughter. Our favorite piece was "Protect and Set Free" in which a mother contemplates three parables that help her to let her daughter grow up and leave. The scenes of her braiding her daughter's hair (in pantomime) and showing the resemblance of their faces in an imaginary mirror were very touching.
Our second favorite piece was a Varnam (the most elaborate of the Bharatanatyam repertoire) in which Rama expresses her passion and devotion for Lord Siva. The hand gestures and body movements clearly suggested the text of the poetry which she read to the audience before the dance. She saw Siva as remote as the heavens and the mountaintops and wanted to draw him closer so that they might sway together and their hearts beat as one. Only in the Hindu culture can sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality become united!
We see how traditional forms can be augmented with modern touches without losing authenticity. These women are artists of the highest degree. Their performance left us artistically and spiritually nourished.
(c) meche kroop