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Dance is a language that the performer speaks and the audience understands. When the dancer is on stage, he or she forgets everything that is around. All that matters is dance. Becoming one with the art is the highest goal for any dancer.

Abhinaya is a part of Bharatanatyam that involves mudras (hand gestures) to communicate to the audience. Here, the dancer becomes a storyteller. Most of these stories are mythological. But when it comes to padams and javalis, the dancer becomes the heroine or the nayika. This character would usually deal with the shringara rasa or that of love.

Dr Vyjayanthimala Bali presented Abhinaya from Padams and Javalis under the auspices of Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha. She performed, sitting down, all conceivable facial expression that one could think of in a padam or a javali. Most of these songs dealt with the heroine’s angst at the hero’s choice of another woman over her or at being left behind.

Singing and dancing at the same time is usually something dancers are discouraged from doing at an early age. But as Vyjayanthimala’s smooth, deep voice glided across the hall as she began the performance with Thodi, the heaviness of the raga percolating into the lightness of the song, one was forced to rethink such rules.  This was followed by another padam in Sankarabharanam.

Notable pieces were K N Dhandayudhapani Pillai’s varnam, Mohamaaginen in Kharaharapriya and Arunachalakavirayar’s Eppadi Manam Thunindhadho in Useni. Sakhiprana, a javali in Chenchurutti composed by Dharmapuri Subbarayar, and Gopalakrishna Bharati’s Enneramum Undhan Sannidhiyil in the raga Devagandhari also stood out. Her eyes spoke volumes and the audience enjoyed every bit of her performance.

The other ragas chosen were Atana, Kamas and Chenchurutti. Each of these songs were performed with a kind of brevity that comes from years of dancing. The accompaniments played their roles to perfection. Mrs Jayalakshmi Santhanam’s vocal support was pleasing on the ear. An artist of her calibre performing as vocal support was commendable indeed. The other accompanying artists are very familiar faces to those who have been following Bharatanatyam for a while. Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan’s violin brought out the essence of every raga, without changing traditional playing. Adyar Balu’s mridangam provided ample support, his korvais forming a chain of musical beauty and Gayathri Shashidaran’s nattuvangam was very subtle and perfect for the occasion.

Dhanashri Tillana was the right choice to end such a memorable performance. As Mrs Y G Parthasarthy remarked later, “I never knew that a tillana could be peformed sitting down.” Vyjayanthimala’s show was a treat for every member of the audience.

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