doc7dxvunbs44z28048r4mRevisiting the works of the Dhananjayans

Natyacharyas V.P. Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan

Natyacharyas V.P. Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When artistes with a career graph spanning decades decide to go on a trip down memory lane to share excerpts from their pioneering works, the outcome is interesting, as it showcases art that has evolved over a period of time. Smrithi Patham, a presentation by Bharatakalanjali, the dance school of the Dhananjayans, at Krishna Gana Sabha was a compilation of sequences from a few select productions choreographed by the dance couple.

The choreographic patterns provided an insight into the changes that have taken place in group choreography over the past few decades. There were no additional inputs such as sets and props, lighting design, or a soundscape. The choreography used only the basic adavus and body movements in varied permutations to communicate the feel and flavour of each song.

Six excerpts from their repertoire were chosen as examples of the variety explored. An offering of prayer came in the form of an invocatory number, Natarajaanjali, taken from the prelude to Nandanar Charitham, choreographed by them in 1982.

An anecdote about the creation of a piece called ‘Nritta Swaravali’, a rhythmic dance for musical notes, was informative. Mridangist T V Gopalakrishnan had composed a simple musical note to the beat of a running train during one of their travels. Dhananjayan embellished it with unique mnemonics suited for dance. Originally danced by Shanta and Dhananjayan highlighting the tandava and lasya aspects, during this show, it was presented with finesse by two young dancers Anand Sachidanand and Srinivas. Perfect footwork, synchrony and adavu patterns marked their recital.

The folksy Kummi and Malar pandattam from their production ‘Valli Thirumanam’ and Raas from ‘Thyagaraja Vaibhavam’ were chosen for the group dynamics. The movements were sombre, a contrast to the vibrant movements in vogue now.

Narrative exploration with a touch of humour came in the Sethubandanam sequence from ‘Ramanatakam’, which stressed upon the importance of Aangikabhinaya. The emotional highlight was the Ashoka-Sanghamitra confrontation scene from their 1978 production ‘Ashoka Sanghamitra’.

‘Smrithi Patham’ reiterated Bharatnatyam’s vocabulary is complete in itself and can help artistes create a visual language of aesthetic merit.