I am an avid listener of music and an avid looker shall we say of dance…. i havent learnt much music and I cant sing, i am not any professional dancer either… but the greatness of an art lies in its simplicity… even if u dont know music or dance … u can enjoy them… u can say if u like it or not and to an extent if it is good or bad… because music and dance are expressions of our innermost emotions… of our deppest desires… of what we feel more than what we know…
It is very easy for a person who works in Software to get tickets to shows coz we do have money… but it is difficult to find time to go to a show because of tight work schedule an dclosing in deadlines… I was blessed with a few free days this December and I got the opportunity to go to the shows of Mandolin Duet by Mandolin Srinivas and his cousin Raju… I also found time to watch Shobana’s dance, Vyjayantimala Bali’s dance and the Dhananjayan’s performance… I describe in this article what I felt about the performances of the artists mentioned above…
The first performance I attended this season was Mandolin Srinivas and U Raju’s Mandolin Duet. Needless to say who was the better of the two. But U Raju was very competent. I have seen him play before and has developed the talent that his cousin has been blessed with. Both of them effortlessly wielded the Mandolin, made it speak to us and played very complex notes. But what was disheartening to see was the lack of crowd at the auditium. A genius like Madolin Srinivas should be playing to a capacity crowd. The Gnanananda Auditorium was only 80% full. That too, people kept coming in at times and there were more foreigners than Indians. I have seen this even in previous December Seasons as well. But it was a great evening nevertheless. I recorded 3 of the compositions. I listen whenever time permits. Mandolin has always fascinated me as the sound produced from it somewhere between that of the Veena and the sitar. It is just like travelling to another place where there is no evil and only harmony prevails when these two play. Next time there is a Mandolin Duet in Chennai, dont miss it….
This was the only kutcheri I attended. The other three performances I attended were the Dance recitals. As is typical in Dance Festivals, Shobana opened the fest, meaning she gave the first dance performance of the season. There are some people who are born for certain things. Shobana is born to dance. Her clarity of Abhinaya will even make a layman understand what she is trying to portray. Her precise positions and graceful movements make you forget the fact that she is over 40. Her footwork is very neat and even the children who had come to watch were awed. There was pin drop silence in the hall. She performed for an hour and a half effortlessly. Her Dakshinamoorthi Shivan performance was awesome, Dasavatharam was very good and Kaavadi Chindhu was spectacular. Needless to say, Thillana was too good. She wrapped it all up with Bhaja Govindam which was the only ordinary piece of the show. Keeping the jathi purely instrumental was innovative. But she could do with some more geometry, that is, she could give more poses than dance all the time.
The next performance I saw was The Dhananjayans. Mr.Dhananjayan gave a small intro speech in which he gave some statements I did not agree with. Apart from that there was nothing to criticize about in their show. It was perfect coordination and harmony between thepair of them. They were match foot for foot. Whether it was Dhananjayan playing a fenale solo as Radha or Shantha doing the solo as Krishna, it was great. Much of the stuff was from Jayadevar Ashtapathi. As Dhananjayan pointed out early, it is not suitable for children. Every step was filled with Laya, their was good and the performance was overall standard.
Immediately following The Dhananjayans was the performance of Vyjayantimala Bali’s dance recital. Old that she is, I was thinking what is she going to do. It is ages since she danced on equal footing with the greatest Padmini in Vanjikottai Valiban. But I read in the papers that she was dancing really well and I had made up my mind to stay for her recital.
She surprised me first by talking in proper tamil and then singing well enough for a 70 year old. Then she gave a short explanation on what Kittappa Vadhyar, her Guru and a descendant of the Tanjore quartet, taught her. She demonstrated it as well. Then she performed one Vanakkam recital. After this came a spell binding performance of Kmakshi Jathi Swaram. She first spoke very briefly abt the differences between Jathi Swara and Swara Jathi, demo it and started off the performance.
She did not stop for a breath, she was spell binding and no one could have guessed her age by the movement of her feet. She performed complex and intricat esteps with such ease that the audience did not move. After she finished she recieved a deserving standing ovation from the audience. At 70, I do not know if I will be able to walk properly. This lady was dancing her head off. She was breathtaking. The agility she demonstaretd was as good as her Vanjikottai days.
This was the most fulfilling performance I have seen till date, even better than Shobana and The Dhanajyans. After the recital, I bought the Dance Souvenir that was released earlier. I wanted to learn dance when I was young but I couldnt due to various reasons. I want these various reasons to be absent from my children’s lives. If I stay in Chennai and if my kids are interested, I will try my best to make them learn dance and music.