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An enticing dance show by Dasyam
Gopika Varma and her group Dasyam were at the Jain temple in Aynavaram in Chennai, spreading the December season kutcheri mood to the rest of the city. The performance was a part of the Kalpadruma Mahamandala celebrations in the Jain temple.

Gopika lighted up the stage literally. She danced with a lamp to Ekadantam in salutations to Lord Vinayaka. The item gave an insight into Mohiniyattam, especially to ones who were new to the art. The curves which replaced the straight lines are a visual treat to people who are used to the strict geometry of Bharathanatyam. This was followed by a Cholketu in Nalinakanthi, a group performance. It was a beautiful piece that showed lasya (grace) and nritta (footwork) simultaneously. The students could have had more sync vis-a-vis their movements. The item scored in terms of the soul element and was very graceful. However, it was slow when compared to a jathiswaram in Bharathanatyam.

This was followed by Jayadeva's Ashtapathi, `Chandana Charchitha' in the beautiful Yamuna Kalyani. As Gopika danced, she stamped her class yet again with her abhinaya. The pangs Radha suffers on hearing sakhi's (friend's) elaborations on the love play between the Gopis and Krishna were painted vividly. Gopika expressed the piece aesthetically. The way sakhi pointed out with her arm outstretched in the suchi hand gesture (finger pointing) to the banks of Yamuna where Krishna was with the Gopikas after every stanza was remarkably beautiful.

This was followed by a thillana, another group performance by Gopika's students. The piece had more of nritta. The beauty of this form here is nritta and abhinaya are so entwined, one cannot call any item as a completely nritta piece.

Finally, Gopika presented the famous Aiyyapa song Harivarasanam in Madhyamavathi. The audience loved this piece because of the familiarity of the song.

After felicitations by the temple authorities, the audience was in for a surprise. It had the opportunity to hear Sri Sushanth sing Pibare Rama Rasam and Vishveshwara Darshan kar on popular demand. He must be applauded for maintaining kutcheri level standards for dance. He could become a sought after singer for dance.
What is a Mohiniyattam performance without the edakka? Sri Suresh Kumar was brilliant. The vibrations of the instrument sent reverberation across the stage. Sri Nagarajan on the mridangam did his job well. The sound of the mridangam seemed to be overshadowed by the sound of the Edakka, bringing a new variant sound. Sri Sunil was on the flute and kumari Vipina Ramachandran on the nattuvangam. Vipina, a student of Gopika, did a laudable job.

It was a pleasant evening. And, there was plenty for audience to take home.
Comments
Urmila - gracefulurmila@yahoo.com
The author says, "The curves which replaced the straight lines are a visual treat to people who are used to the strict geometry of Bharathanatyam." The author apparently believes that Kalakshetra style's straight lines define and confine Bharathanatyam. However, most Bharathanatyam dancers, who are non-Kalakshetra, do not think so.