From The Word Go – Avani Had Rasikas On Hold

The Arangetram of Avani Upasana Kashyap took place last weekend at Shilpakalavedika. The stage was profusely decorated with floral arrangements to add a festive air. Avani is a young student of Bharatanatyam Guru Santhosh Kumar Thamang who very ably did the nattuvangam. She is studying in IX standard and is merit holder of a CCRT scholarship. The distinguished guests who graced the occasion were Dr. Mythili Anoop, Dr. Kiranmai Bonala and Prof. J. Balasubramaniam.

The live orchestra was of high calibre and meticulously coordinated precision. K. Srinivas on the mridangam, Venkatesh on flute, R. Sudhakar on veena, and Ravi Kumar on ghatam; Jayakumar Bharadwaj is a new highly talented vocalist on the scene. Lighting by Basavaraju was excellent.                                        

Ganapathi kauthuvam portrayed the Elephant-headed God, remover of obstacles. Avani captured the audience from the opening onwards and held the spectators by her brilliant performance. The alarippu or unfolding as it is called due to the preliminary simpler rhythmic structures expanding into more complex ones which reach a crescendo in the next item as both were originally together in an earlier period; was beautifully done. Jathiswaram which is nritta was executed to a swara combination in khamas. It was a treat to behold the young artiste essays the adavu patterns. The theermanams were perfectly executed. The shabdham on Goddess Saraswati was a prayer beseeching her to enhance the eloquence of the devotee in order to be able to possess the capacity to minutely detail her attributes as the consort of Brahma sitting on a lotus flower in garments of pure white. Knowledge is sought for from Her.                                    

The padavarnam was the famed vintage composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar “Roopamu Joochi” in Todi which is a rigorous test for any artiste due to its complexity and nuances. The sanchari bhavas were delineated with maturity. The Nayika laments her plight at being ignored by her Lord Tyagesa of Tiruvarur. The mudras were appropriate in the ritual Utsava processional journey of the Lord in the Temple. Devarnama by Purandaradasa evoked bhakti rasa showing the Lord in his avatara as Vamana or Trivikrama who increased his stature to span the three Worlds in order to curb Bali Chakravarthy. He also lifted Mandaragiri. She especially succeeded in bringing to life with exquisite gestures so as almost to catch a glimpse – the iridescent peacock feather adornment of Lord Krishna.

Two kritis rich in imagery gave an opportunity to the artiste to display her prowess in natya and abhinaya. Gajendramoksham was scintillating as Avani alternated in depicting the majestic Elephant and the slithering Crocodile locked in combat and finally the deliverance presented. Akhilandeshwari in a furious aspect is calmed down and images of her Children installed to keep her pacified. The poses here resembled that of an antique Chola Bronze. Nimble agility of the Artiste was praiseworthy in the fast-paced thillana in Revathi where the lyrics were of prayer to Lord Kartikeya. Mangalam authored by Adi Sankaracharya concluded the two-hour long performance throughout which Avani’s vibrant energy and quality were sustained and consistent.               

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