Dakshina Vaidyanathan's charming stage presence awes audience

Dakshina’s abhinaya was more instinctive

Dakshina Vaidyanathan is a third generation Bharatanatyam dancer. She is the granddaughter of Saroja Vaidyanathan, a veteran dancer-guru-choreographer, and daughter of Rama Vaidyanathan, a well-known dancer and a former disciple of Yamini Krishnamurthy and Saroja. Dakshina has been trained by both family members in Ganesa Natyalaya and is now teaching there.

Given her background, it is not surprising that Dakshina is a natural. Her timing, movements, understanding and interpretation of lyrics, is a given. She has an easy confidence and is charm personified.
The best that morning was the Thiruppavai, ‘Kutthuvilakkeriya’ (Sahana, Adi) in which Andal beseeches Krishna to speak to her and accuses his consort, Nappinnai, of not waking him up as she cannot bear to be separated from him. The verse paints a beautiful picture of Krishna reclining on Lakshmi Devi’s chest, who has flower-bedecked hair and kajal-lined eyes, together on an ivory-legged cot, lit by an oil lamp. Dakshina’s sensitive handling was a tribute to her maturity and understanding — as a gopi she calls the others to join her and when she gets to the (temple) door and peeps in, her expression turns reverential as she describes the scene within. She then recreates how Krishna might have come to this, having fallen asleep while enjoying Lakshmi Devi’s music the previous night. The dancer went on to show how careful Lakshmi Devi is not to wake him up, removing her bangles, protecting him from the first rays of sunlight, etc. Andal finally acknowledges that Krishna is not going to wake up soon and settles down on the floor, her palms cupping her face, staring at the door waiting patiently…

The other remarkable piece was the rhythmic opening (ragamalika, Adi and khanda chapu). The Ganesha Gayathri, ‘Om Tat Purushaaya vidmahe, Vakrathundaaya dhimahi…’ was followed by a jathi with Ganesha-like steps and visuals of Ganesha playing the mridangam while his father Nataraja performed the tandava. After this was the Ganapati talam ‘Vikatotkata sundara..,’ a beautifully rhythmic composition based on verses from the Rig Veda that is recited and danced in temples. The timing of the transition between segments was brilliant and the choreography, lively.

Dakshina sailed through the invocation and the jathis of the ‘Rupamu joochi’ varnam (Thodi, Adi, Muthuswami Dikshitar, with Tiger Varadachariar’s lyrics for the mukthayi swara and chittu swaras). Her calm presence made everything look easy. You could see that she enjoyed the experience. Apart from the trikala jathi being a bit long, the nritta portions had enjoyable sollukattus (Karaikudi Sivakumar) recited with energy by Dr. S. Vasudevan (nattuvangam) and supported unobtrusively by Sumod Sridharan (mridangam).

Dakshina’s informal way of abhinaya, felt less tutored and more instinctive. She is so in the moment. The ‘Roopamu joochi’ situation when the nayika is taken in by Tyagaraja Swami’s majestic form when she enters the temple was well done. The earlier part about him being dishevelled and her shock was too fleeting to make an impact. Though every expression was appropriate, one felt there was a shortfall of gravitas in handling the varnam especially from the mukthayi section.

It was finish with a flourish as Dakshina presented a thillana (Kapi, Lakshmisham, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar) set in a challenging 25-beat tala cycle. Giving her high quality melody were K. Venkateshwaran (vocal) and Viju Sivanand (violin).

Source - The Hindu

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