RADHIKA’S DANCE ARANGETRAM

(Text by Radha and photos by Parthasarathy)
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It was late evening (about 7.15 PM) on 17th December, 2007 (Monday) when we entered the venue hall. It was raining and was quite a chilly evening. Radhika clad in bright yellow with red border dance costume just then started her first dance performance with her back to the audience. We learnt later that the programme had started with puja (by a Sastrigal) followed by a prayer krithi by the vocalist in Hamsadhwani raga. Radhika slowly danced doing Jathis and turned to the audience. She looked bright, pleasing and very charming. The hall was quite dimly lit to suit the soft and pleasant music that was flowing from the artists seated on stage. The first thing that struck us was the simplicity and a very unique and nice way in which the hair-do was done. There was no overdoing. The make up was mild and well done by experts. As she started dancing more I could see that the style was very traditional and a very good blend of 'Bhavam, Ragam and Thalam’. She was quite expressive and did this first piece of dance on ‘Ganesha’ in Nattai Ragam quite well. One could see that for a debutant (though she would have performed dances in School etc.,) she was confident and could carry herself quite well.

The next piece was about the story of Rama in Ragamalika. Here as she started dancing there were scenes where ‘Sita’ garlands Rama. Radhika transformed herself as ‘Sita’ and with a peculiar shyness which ought to have been special to ‘Sitamma’ herself as she garlands ‘Lord Rama’ and returned to her original place from where she went to garland the lord and recapitulates the whole special event and brings out the enjoyment of the thought of garlanding her Lord and the happiness that fills her heart in that special moment of her life. All of us could go through all these and enjoy and relish thanks to Radhika’s specialty in being so expressive and had conveyed the experience to all of us through her self. The traditional values such scenes exhibited and the perfect Ragamalika at the back ground music from such renowned people and artists added to the flavour and fervour. The distinguished Gurus tactfully knowing fully well their wards capacity to be expressive had given more stress on such pieces. This scene was done two or three times. Here Radhika in the character of Sita garlanding Rama scored her perfect ten. I some how could recollect ‘Raviverma’ the painter’s picture of ‘Sita’. The entire dance was well done and she maintained her rhythm perfectly.


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The next piece for which she danced was 'roopamu juchi', a varnam in Ragam ‘Thodi’. (According to my uncle, this is believed to be the composition of Tiruvarur Muttuswami Nattuvanar, a disciple of Ramaswami Dikshitar, though it is often attributed to Muthuswami or Ramaswamy Dikshidar. M.D.Ramanathan's rendition of this varnam has additional texts that he composed). It was mentioned by Dhananjayan that the chittaswaras were composed by Tiger Varadachari for a dance by Smt.Rukmini Devi, founder of Kalakshetra. Ragam ‘Thodi’ is an enchanting, pleasing and mesmerizing ragam a perfect piece and sung very well by the experts who were seated there. The Orchestra added to its beauty by its required perfect additions and interference and complimented so well the vocal beauty of the singers. On the whole even before Radhika’s entry into the stage which she did at an appropriate perfect time as instructed by her gurus, the ambience that was created in the stage was full of melody and rhythm. Radhika enhanced the beauty of this piece and ‘Ragam Thodi’ by her swift, light, rhythmic steps without mistakes. It was a visual delight! The fine breezy evening and the nice auditorium made this piece more enjoyable. Incidentally I also learnt that Nrityopaharam is the technical term for Varnam.

The fourth piece of the evening was a padam in ‘Kedaragowla’ Ragam. This exhibited Radhika's expressiveness and the devotion to the Goddess. Devi was described and pictured on stage by the dancer and her strengths and the ‘Sakthi’ was exhibited in va ery mild tone in a pure way.


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After the fourth piece, Radhika's guru invited the chief guest, Vyjayantimala to bles the dancer. She spoke well (in Tamil) and lavishly praised Radhika. After this brief interlude was a piece from Jayadeva's ashtapadi in Yamunakalyani ragam. By this time the dancer had changed into a different costume in blue and green which was extremely pleasing and beautiful. “Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi’ is every dance lover’s favourite and so well done by Radhika. Lord Krishna as an adolescent boy was portrayed well and enthusiastically by her. It was enjoyable. Here one could notice that the stage was lit just enough to highlight the profile of the artist (who otherwise have a very high profile) with mild stage setting-just a back drop in dark blue with a nice arch or an entrance like picture on it drawn in pastel colour and in the front with similar drawings. On the sides were the small setting of the founders and deities which were all aesthetically done and depicting the overall genius of her Gurus and their class. Each and everything appeared to be thought out and well laid. IT was sheer class. It took me back to 25 to 30 years when in an Arangetram of such kind such class- tradition could be seen. In this performance I could see the class and also the discipline of absolutely adhering to the traditional Jathis, Thalams and Swarams, which means that there was no second class gimmicks. Nowadays there's too much of Dhom, dhudhum, dhudhum. Thakata thakata thadhum…. with exaggerated expressions, (even by famous and popular dancers). Not to leave a special mention about the multi coloured lighting combos to add to that taste! Though very captivating and gripping for the moment it later leaves us with a feeling whether it was a Bharathanatyam concert or a Kathak or Kathakali combined with western dance! Here I had no such confusion. It was a perfect and pure Bharathanatyam dance recital full of traditional values.

he finale –‘Thillana’ (again I learnt that the technical term is Nrittangaharam) was the master-piece of the concert. Radhika danced rhythmically with perfect blend of steps and ‘Bhavas’ adhering to the tone music and Thalams. Most of the main instruments like the Mirdangam, Flute, Gatam were all visually expressed when the singers were melodiously singing, it was a very special and unique piece with the Bhavas passed on to her by her Gurus. I always enjoy Thillana and I enjoyed it even more. It was very beautiful and well done Radhika!


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On the whole it was a wonderful experience. Radhika’s pleasant smile was enchanting and left its effect for many more hours and days to come. Her mistakes were very few (3 or 4, maybe) which she managed extremely well and would most probably must have gone unnoticed from most of the audience’s eyes. For an arangetram, i.e., first formal performance she has done a very good job like a professional which needs to be applauded and congratulated. Also, her wonderful Gurus who obviously must have known well about their student’s strengths and weakness have given her light swift steps, ‘Jathis’ expressive scenes and pleasant poses and have avoided long standing postures. Her energy level was superb and she hid tiredness by her pleasant smiles! I am sure this wonderful performance made Santhanam Anna and Kausalya Mami prouder(her parents) (otherwise they are too humble) and her brother and other relatives and friends prouder and her Gurus very happy. My special best wishes to Radhika and thanks for giving me such a nice evening worth cherishing.

 



OTHER PHOTOS OF RADHIKA’S DANCE ARANGETRAM


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