Darshanam, a solo Bharatanatyam recital by the eminent Bharatanatyam danseuse Malavika Sarukkai, was simply a divine experience. She literally gave “darshana” of her inner stillness, tranquility and moving Abhinaya at the Sannidhi Sabhagar, the intimate performance space of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, recently.

Her performances have always been scintillating but this time there was something else in addition. The slim and trim figure and the charming demeanor of the “star” artiste, belied her career span of more than 50 years. She revelled in her own creativity that had a spiritual aura too.

In Gangavataran, for instance, the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda at Devprayag, where devotees throng for the darshan of the sacred waters, was a comely comparison and contrast between the broad and mature river Bhagirathi and the lucid, luminous Alaknanda that Malvika melted into alternately.

Malavika Sarukkai
Malavika Sarukkai (Photo: Narendra Dangiya)

The serene Alap in raga Saraswati for “Devi Sureshwari…” and the Stotra-Path on just the sonorous strains of Tanpura for Bhagirathi and the crisp footwork and jumps for Alaknanda, were thoughtfully-conceived and imaginatively-choreographed.

The piece on Darshan of Rama on the streets of Mithila from Kanva Ramayana, depicted the lovely maidens, some of them darting like deer, some in the elegant gait of Mayura, some rushing past like lightning…their eyes transfixed on the divine beauty of Rama.

The piece from Krishna-Karnamrita, followed by Bhavayami Raghunatham and the Varaha Avatara…each and every item had mesmerising music with vocals by Murali Parthasarathy and Violin by Srilakshmi Venkataramani, to match the charisma of the exhilarating dance.

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Kalavahini Concert at the IIC

The Kalavahini Trust, established by Malavika Sarukkai, presented in association with the India International Centre (IIC), the first programme of the series Pursuing Excellence that would focus on dancers from the next generation, who have commitment, creativity and passion for dance.

Introducing the series, Malavika underlined the fact that the promising young dancers, who are serious about their work, need a platform to showcase their talent. Kalavahini Trust is committed to help them and presented three upcoming brilliant Bharatanatyam dancers last week at the IIC auditorium.

Malavika Sarukkai

The evening opened with a solo Bharatanatyam recital by Kristopher Guruswamy, an Australia-born Kalakshetra graduate. His perfect Angashuddha, impeccable technique and crisp footwork vouched for the signature of Kalakshetra on his dance right from the opening “Natanam Adinar…” in raga Vasantha, a composition of Gopal Krishna Bharathi.

Varnam, the next piece, was “Somsayaka…”, composed by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal in raga Kapi set to Rupaktala. Guruswamy concluded with a Devaranama of Purandaradasa, depicting the child Krishna, in Ragamalika that opened surprisingly with the Hindustani raga Patdeep.

Kristopher was adorable as the child Krishna, evoking Vatsalya Rasa (the motherly love) in the hearts of dance lovers, who watched him. His attractive stage presence, agility and Mukhabhinaya, enhanced by the melodious wing support, impressed the audience.

Malavika Sarukkai
Malavika Sarukkai (Photo: Parasanna Venkatesh)

The Bharatanatyam duet by the dynamic dancers Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon was the other attraction of this memorable dance evening, revealing the grandeur of the Kalakshetra style.

Trained in Kalakshetra, the gifted duo have received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Busmilla Khan Yuva Puraskar. The opening invocation “Shankaram satam chintayami…” a composition of Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar in raga Gambheera Nattai, interspersed with Alarippu in Misram and Sankeeram, made a super impact from the very beginning.

The Tana Varnam on Venugopala, a composition of Vidwan T R Subramanian in raga Behag “Oh Vanajaksha…”, that ended with the Madhurashtakam, saw the dancers in their elements.

The beautiful Krithi next, a composition of Papanasam Sivan in raga Varali, set to Aditala, was preceded by a Virutham from Kantha Shashti Kavacham.

Shijith and Parvathy concluded their delightful duet, complementing each other, with a scintillating Thillana composed by Vidwan Veena Seshanna in raga Senjuratty, set to Aditala.

The melodious music accompaniment had Binu Venugopal on Vocals, Venkata Krishnan on Nattuvangam, Karthikeyan Ramanathan on Mridangam and Easwar Ramakrishnan on Violin.