Ganapati, the remover of all obstacles, is worshiped at the beginning of an event. Vani Lakshmi Varma also began her performance in the Kalakshetra auditorium with a shloka in praise of Ganapati, before going to Alarippu in the third ek talam. The core elements of the dance form – Alarippu’s intrinsically correct Aramandi posture and symmetry in hand movements and footwork, were diligently followed by Vani. A Jatiswaram was carried forward in Raga Vasantha and Rupaka Talam composed by Thanjavur Quartet.
The centerpiece of the performance was Thodi Raga Varnam, ‘Rupamu Juchi’, composed by Ramaswamy Dikshitar. It speaks of a devotee’s plea to Thiagarajaswamy of Tiruvarur not to be angry with him for disturbing her meditative state, but to understand her helplessness as she is captivated by his beautiful form.
Vani described the qualities and nature of Tyagarajaswamy through suitable communicators. The theramanum was short and crunchy and the footwork of Vani was impressive. She was able to communicate the idea well, but the practice would make her acting more subtle. By giving a little more grace to her movements, especially atami, she can increase the appeal of her dance.
Vaani showed more confidence in the second half of the performance, which was evident in her acting explorations. The verses of Murugan Pillai Thamis were chosen to depict the beauty of Muruga as a child, as seen by the Trinity, Indra and other celestial beings. Her attitude, posture and expressions made Kriti a delight to watch.
Vani Lakshmi Verma. , photo credit: special arrangement
Raga Behag followed a composition by Swami Surjananda, ‘Muruganin Maru Pyaar Azhagu’. The description of Muruga as a Siddar in Palani was an interesting communicator. Vani’s concern for the environment, especially water pollution, came to the fore in the next section. This Ragamalika composition was a compilation of verses on the beauty of the Yamuna river by the sixth century Sufi poet Raskhan and the 21st century Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinakar on the current condition of the river. The dancer effectively conveyed the essence of the song.
The performance ended with Mohana Raag Thilana, which was sung by Adyar K. Choreographed by Laxman. Vani’s Guru Charan Mahadevan and Guru Karunasagari Venkatachalam conducted the singing. Vishnupriya Rangarajan provided vocal support, while Vedakrishnan accompanies Mridangam. Shashidhar’s expressive notes on the flute and Ananthanarayanan’s flow of melody on the veena strings enhanced the influence of the musical ensemble. Prabha Natarajan conducted the program.
The Chennai-based critic writes on classical dance and music.