Apathy strikes a superlative dance recital

Ratna Venkat – Rakesh Chaurasia-Ratna Venkat

After a long time, Auckland audience was treated to a Bharata Natyam performance at a professional level on Saturday, April 30 at the Auckland Normal Intermediate School auditorium in Mt Eden.

A solo recital by Chennai-based visiting artiste Kavyalakshmi (Kavya) Muralidharan, this was a fundraising event for Thiru Subramaniyar Aalayam in Mangere and Sri Balaji Temple in Hamilton.

The programme was organised by Renuka Katheesan, Principal and Director of the Auckland based dance school, Sai Natyalaya.

Daughter and disciple of Madurai R Muralidharan, Kavya proved that she was a chip of the old block and has over the years, created a landmark of her own, presenting a total of eight unique dance items that showcased good partnership between father and daughter.

Muralidharan composed all the songs while Kavya breathed life into his compositions with her dancing.

Strong footwork

A few glitches in sound and lighting at the beginning did not hinder her performance. Kavya’s facial expressions and execution of dance movements captivated our attention as we listened and witnessed the song and dance transcending into one divine entity.

Her strong footwork in particular takes special admiration.

In true Muralidharan style, the programme consisted of songs that exuberated the beauty of Tamil language and were both religious and non-religious.

Religious dance pieces included Varnam on Shiva Thiruvilayadal (the Divine Deeds of Lord Shiva), and Krishna’s Ras Lila (the Divine Love of Lord Krishna) composed in the North Indian Hindustani classical tradition.

But for me, the highlight of the evening was a composition on the stages of a woman’s life. Describing the trials and tribulations that a woman has to endure, from going through mixed emotions in her youth to experiencing the first flush of love, this performance mirrored the essence of the ‘I am Woman’ event that I attended earlier on the same day, and it was a delight to see this as a part of the programme (please read related story under Communitylink).

From a serious composition to a light-hearted one, another unique item was on ‘Sirippu’ (laughter). Influenced by Tamil film actor N S Krishnan’s promotion of comedy in films, Kavya enacted how laughter can solve many of life’s problems.

At the end, her performance did not make us laugh, rather it made us smile.

Disappointing attendance

Besides the students of Sai Natyalaya attending Kavya’s Bharata Natyam concert, it was disappointing to see that not many students from other dance schools turned up to witness the programme.

It is rare to see a performer of this calibre and being a visiting artiste from India, students who are aspiring to be proficient could have taken this opportunity to learn by witnessing her performance and being introduced to new themes penned by Muralidharan.

Hopefully, this will not be the case for the upcoming Dance Musical ‘Avadhara Purushan’, produced by Muralidharan and presented by Sai Natyalaya on Saturday, May 22 at Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls’ Grammar School at 430 pm.

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