Review by R. Sittamparam
We were ending this hot Saturday evening (May 30), at the PJ Civic Centre auditorium to watch Varnanjali 2015, a presentation of Bharatanatyam and Kutchipudi Indian classical dances.
Two dance gurus, Kuala Lumpur based Chandramohan Ramasamy and Johor Baru based Sri Ajith Bhaskaran Dass had pooled their resources to woo the rapidly dwindling fine arts audience in Kuala Lumpur to immerse themselves in an evening of spiritual transcendence.
Guru Ajith and his Suvarna Fine Arts academy dance team are familiar to us given their once or twice yearly performances in Kuala Lumpur and their year-end grand finale in Johor Baru. But this was the first time we were seeing Guru Chandramohan and students of Sri Nandhigeswar Dance Academy and performing Kutchipudi at that.
The towering, heavy set Chandramohan is a natural performer which was clear in his highly dramatic rendition of the popular Mahishasura Mardini Strotam number that sent shivers down our spines seeing the gory finale.
Chandramogan takes to the stage as fish to water. He passionately embraces the stage space with his measured movements, artistic personality and the theatrical flamboyance oozing from his mastery in the Andhra Pradesh originated Kutchipudi dance form. He also manages to lift his students’ back-up performance with his magnetic presence. This indeed is a guru’s master touch.
Ajith’s expertise in choreography, music arrangement and stage craft was evident in the show and his own dedicated team of musicians including talented India based singer, Nandakumar Unnikrishnan provided mesmerising accompaniment to the dancers. They effortlessly reverted between delivering flawless renditions of classical Bharatanatyam tunes to the folksy Kuchipudi rhythms.
The lawyer turned international dancer who is indeed the quintessential dance guru, has led his highly trained troupe of senior students in numerous high profile productions throughout the country and the international arena. The troupe has a wide repertoire of dance items and musicals mostly composed, choreographed and designed by Ajith himself with assistance from senior students who are also gurus in their own right.
The Suvarna dancers displayed their signature technical brilliance in the rhythmic opening alarippu and concluding thillana, holding the audience spellbound. Ajith showed his spiritual depth in his solo performance, Alwar Kanda Kannan, a beautiful composition based on the traditional hymns of the South Indian Alwar Vaishnava movement.
As the evening ended contemplating on the show, we realised how it gave us the chance to transcend from the rigours of the day-to-day battle with the relentless weather, rising prices, GST and our wild, raving emotional lives.