The stage was set, the orchestra was in place, and a fully dressed danseuse was
sitting at the Nattuvanar's place. The prime disciple conducts the guru's item
and vice versa, I was told.
And then, Ananda Shankar Jayant, the Guru, sweeps onto the stage along with her
senior students for a brisk invocation - Pushpanjali in Bharatanatyam style. The
impact made, Ananda returns for a solo Kuchipudi item in praise of the Goddess
Durga.. A little too much of the Roudra rasa , one felt, and similar to 'Maheswari
Mahakali', choreographed by renowned Guru Uma Rama Rao.
Tarangam followed with the usual Krishna pranks and the brass plate routine. Was something unusual here? The tradition of Kuchipudi demands that after dancing on the plate, it is either ignored or placed at a side. Never kicked out of the way.
Individual prowess established, the artiste moved on to reveal expertise in other areas. Jayadeva's Dasavatara Ashtapadi , with music innovatively composed by Prema Rammurthi, was evidence of Ananda's excellence in choreography. The group skillfully formed various patterns depicting mythological characters imaginatively - especially the Narasimhavatara. Perfect coordination!
The recently bereaved Ananda dedicated the item on Lord Shiva to her late mother. The Meera Bhajan was more mudra-oriented and did not bring out the Bhakti aspect as well as it should have. Tillana , a composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman, was brisk and beautifully executed by the group.
The Secunderabad Club organizes a dance event every year to celebrate Ugadi, the Telugu New Year Day. This year it was Ananda Shankar, who seemed to have carved a niche for herself in creating thought provoking ballets, the most acclaimed being 'What about me?' She definitely comes across as a committed teacher and performer.
Her other peripheral activities like compering and lec-dems have also been well
recognized by the local organizers, and it goes without saying that she is a popular
performer, with a svelte figure (a must for all dancers) and attractive stage
presence, which she uses uninhibitedly. Where to now, Ananda?