The phrase 'cooperating women' (forgive me, feminists and cooperating women) would
have remained an oxymoron had not art intruded. After that intrusion, riding high
on the wave of talent and mutual respect, one could see the bonhomie among these
gifted dancers, each one eager to give the other a chunk of space in fame and
The other day it was a string of bouquets and felicitations to Sobha Naidu from contemporary dancers of the field on her Padmasree and Doctorate awards. And today it was a performing platform for involved dancers like Pratima Sagar, Yeleswarapu Vijayavalli and Rajeswari Sainath, a platform that was provided by a renowned Kuchipudi dancer like Swati Somnath. Whatever the event, the mood is one of friendship and team spirit. "Let's do it together," seemed to be the slogan.
It was on this mood of love and goodwill that the evening's program took off. It started on the dot of 6:30pm with 'The Celestial Dance And Music', a dance performance put together by two highly talented dancers, one who is also a known art critic (Pratima Sagar), and the other also known for her powerful rendering of the Harikatha (Bhagavatharini Vijayavalli).
It was obvious from the first item itself that these two took their art seriously. Almost 28 ragas were woven into the music support of the repertoire; some created by them and the others being traditional songs.
Pratima doesn't claim to adhere to any particular style, although Kathak was her forte. (I saw a large influence of Kathakali and Odissi in her execution.) She is a practicing sculptress too, and almost chiseled herself into every posture with the same care that she perhaps puts into her statues. Her entries for every item were made with impact, though the exits needed a little more planning.
'Kala Bhairavam Bhaje' was excellently presented, describing the Bhairava aspect (dog) of Lord Siva. The posture of the deity was the most authentic one that I had ever seen. Pratima depicted the qualities of each god and goddess in their special forms, with some expressions unseen earlier. Acharya Gopi described her style aptly as an untrodden path. Not many dancers of Hyderabad have displayed this kind of creative expression in recent times.
Vijayavalli, as the 'Nattuvanar', opened each item with a sloka, for which she also did the 'abhinaya', thus making the teamwork genuine. The way the artistes gelled into a creative whole was commendable. Prahlada Sabdam was traditional, yet different. The Kali item (not the oft imitated Maheswari-Mahakali of Guru Uma RamaRao) was engrossing, the additional impact coming from the crown worn. Pratima literally brought the temple-carved deities alive in front of us through her celestial interpretations.
The evening's second half, after a crisp function that had dignitaries like Vastu Silpi B N Reddy presiding effectively, carried on with a Bharatanatyam recital by Rajeswari Sainath, who just recently took off a seminar 'Trishakti' involving top musicians and dancers. She is known to maintain the chastity of her gurukul, and it was obvious from the first item onwards that she does not compromise. The items selected were in-depth representations of her school and the 'abhinaya' was splendid.
But, as Swati Somnath woefully said, two solo dances should not have been clubbed on the same day. One can't do justice to both on an even par. There is bound to be a bias. On this particular evening there was no bias, but the newness of Pratima's presentation simply took one's breath away. Even before we came out of the impact, we were offered a proficient danseuse like Rajeswari on the same platter. Simply too much to digest in one evening.