The grammar of Bharatanatyam is formatted in such a way that it gives artistes immense scope to interpret it according to their creative abilities. When this is done without indulging in theatrics and showmanship, the outcome is truly energising.
One experienced this in ‘Kolaru Padhigam’, choreographed by veteran Chitra Visweswaran and presented by students of Lalitha Kala Mandir, the fine arts centre of Sri Muthukrishna Swami Mission Trust. The production, a rich tapestry of movement and music, was performed at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
‘Kolaru Padhigam’ is a set of ten hymns composed by Thirugnanasambandar as a prayer to Shiva to protect his devotees from the adverse influence of the planetary position. According to legend, queen Mangaiyarkarasi of Madurai invited Thirugnanasambandar to visit the city. But Tirunavukarasar dissuaded him from doing so citing that the planetary position was not favourable to undertake the journey. Stating that all devotees of Shiva are beyond these influences, Sambandar went ahead with his trip after composing these hymns as a protective mantra for people to recite.
The performance began with Anjali in Raga Amritavarshini, which was presented by 10 girls in flaming red-orange costume. The pieces that followed were based on the ideas and thoughts expressed in the Padhigam.
Chitra’s let her imagination soar in choreographing the group movements, which were marked by coordination and varied patterns. The portrayal of navagrahas, 27 stars, Samudra manthan and the five elements were visually appealing. However, the most impressive sequence was Ganga’s descent in Bhagiratha episode, where a group of girls depicted Mt Kailash one moment and the seamless flow of the river in the next.
The performance also included the Markandeya episode, which was dealt with in a subtle manner. A Hamsanandi thillana composed by R Visweswaran brought the performance to a close.
The presentation was backed by an impressive musical score, melodious singing, lighting and make up.