Festive vibes : Transcending the physical
Two different dance traditions; one expressing the Lasya (Kuchipudi) and other depicting the Tandava (Perini) showcased together against the...
Two different dance traditions; one expressing the Lasya (Kuchipudi) and other depicting the Tandava (Perini) showcased together against the magnificent backdrop of Khajuraho creates an expression that transcends the physical beauty L Sailaja Kumar The 2013 Khajuraho Festival of Dance which happened in Khajuraho in February paid rich tributes to those unnamed and forgotten sculptors who built the monumental masterpieces. This festival saw exponents of various dance forms from all over the country like ChitraVishveshwaram, Madhavi Mudgal, Aditi Mangaldas and Kalakrishna, Sarala Kumari and Perini Srinivas from Andhra Pradesh. The unique feature of the Andhra Pradesh contingent was presenting Kuchipudi and Perini Shivataandavam (the dance of Nataraja) together by Sarala Kumari and Perini Srinivas respectively. Srinivas complimented Sarala Kumari as her male counterpart represnting the Cosmic Dancer Nataraja along with Sreekanth who moved like a live wire! Since Perini doesn't lend itself to any form of 'merging', Sarala Kumari used few bits from her original dance ballet 'Khajuraho', alternated the Kuchipudi jatis with Perini. Though this is not a 'jugalbandi' per se, both the forms blended seamlessly into each other and enthralled the audience with lilting romance, devotion and left them charged with Perini's raw energy! The performance began with Perini in which the melaprapti or the warm-up is preparatory phase for the 'high-voltage' dance. It then moved on to'vinyaasam', 'tahanaalu', samayati', 'dhamarukam' and 'pipeelikam', which gradually built tempo of the dance to frenzy heights. Here is when Sarala Kumari enters; one almost feels as if a sculpture from the backdrop just walked on to the podium! The six phases of her dance have glory of the khajuraho temple, god's paradise, postures (bhangimas) like a lady dressing, standing etc, shringara (eroticism), followed by vipareethadhorani (illegitimate relationships and lesbianism), finally culminating into knowing the higher dimension, which is the truth. Her fluid movements, hard-to-miss expressions and the graceful costume she designed herself, after four years of research, all go perfectly with one another. If one has observed the original Khajuraho sculptures, one can see the hair made up as a prominent protruded bun that she has not missed! Sarala Kumari's brainchild Khajuraho was conceived a year ago after fouryears of hard work. Inspired by a visit to the temple in moon light, 20 years ago, when the mystical energy of the shrine drew her, she started pouring over all books, resources and pictures that she could lay her hands on. Contrary to the 'shringara' or the eroticism it intends to evoke, Sarala wanted to touch a deeper dimension in the sculptures. She explains, "Putting together 'Kha'-'bhog' (pleasure), 'jha' (tyaga/sacrifice) and 'aho!' beauty/awe, one can consciously sacrifice the bhog or pleasures, move into the 'aho' or the blissful state, instead of getting stuck in this body, which is a play of the five elements. The dancer Sarala in the ballet Khajuraho transcends the physical beauty and sees the divine light within. The engrossing rendition coupled with Perini Srinivas and Sreekanth's robust warrior dance left the audience mesmerised! Sarala says that be it this or any other dance till date, she left no stone unturned to give it a 'special quality'. She seeks experts like Kouta Lalith Manohar's help to contribute insightful Sanskrit shlokas, which not only give the rich literary dimension to the dance but invoke a sense of reverence towards Indian culture. For this piece she relied on Priya Rangarajan's research whose flawless text, replete with Khajuraho's glorious history transported the audience into the bygone era. While dance delves into depths of the navarasas, it also has the power to take you to the realms beyond physical. Perini or the warrior dance invokes the 'roudra' or the ferocious spirit in the warriors to enable them to fight fearlessly, and Khajuraho on the other end goes into the diametrically opposite dimension. Two opposites in one frame - but that's what is life about, isn't it?