A good theme is vital for a Bharata Natyam show today and dance schools like Ajith Bhaskaran Dass’ Suvarna are always at the forefront in this quest. Every production staged by Suvarna has continued to reaffirm this. But who would think of wrapping up a dance extravaganza around the number seven?
Sutra’s creative director Datuk Ramli Ibrahim who presented his disciple’s recently staged `Sapthashree, Nuanced Numeric’ joked that he had always been fascinated by the highly revered number seven and would have wished to use it as a theme for a Sutra show but Ajith had beaten him to it.
Indeed it was a good theme and Ajith assisted by senior students ably choreographed a befitting repertoire of colourful and novel items for the show with original musical scores arranged by Indian musicians, K. Venkateshwaran and Dr. S. Vasudevan.
Opening with Saptha Dwani, a celebration of Swara, the seven musical notes of the Indian Carnatic music system Suvarna’s senior students, the husband and wife team of Suzatha Suppiah and Vijay Chandran; Ananthemalar Durairaj, Vijayan Veeryen, Thiviya Marimuthu, Haridivya Muralitharan, Logeshwari Durairaj, Parthiben Sethu, Shama Priya Kalaiselvan and Previna Chandran led by Ajith, captured the stage of the Shantanand Auditorium at the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
The auditorium which has flowered into a preferred venue for Indian classical fare with nary a weekend without a show gracing its stage, was packed with kalai rasikas making the date for Suvarna’s not-to-be-missed show from all over the country.
A noteworthy creative shift in Ajith’s choreography is evident in Saptha Shakti, a number in glorification of the seven mothers of the universe, Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maaheshwari, Maahendri, Kaumari, Vaarahi and Chamunda.
Ajith who especially relishes depicting the mother goddess in his productions appears to have transcended from the rhetorical and impersonal depiction of Shakti as an all-powerful energy icon, to unleash her variegated personality and intrinsic beauty and charm.
Another subject often explored by Ajith, love also gets a transcendental lift in Saptha Rasayati outlining the divine pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Ajith plays the role of Madana, cupid to weave in and out of the stage to enhance the amorous dealings of Krishna and the gopis played by his students.
In Saptha Tarangini, the seven sacred rivers are glorified with songs in the language of the various Indian states through which the rivers flow.
Here the songs delivered by vocalist Venkateshwaran aided by Sajilal Narayanan on Nattuvangam and Theban Arumugam (mridangam), Achyuthan Sashidaran Nair (violin), Jayalakshmi Premkumar (veena) and Kuhananthan Nanthakumar (kanjira and pakhawaj) carry the full weight of the presentation.
Sadly, the dance choreography for this number appears rather repetitive and lethargic.
All in all the show was a grand success in placing Ajith and Suvarna at the forefront of the growing dance scene in Malaysia.
Review by R. Sittamparam
Picture by Sasi Dharan