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Shobana's dance recital - a mix of past and present
The YGP Auditorium was packed, as one awaited Padmashree Shobana's dance performance for Bharath Kalachar. Shobana commenced her programme with an Anjali dedicated to violin maestro late Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan. After the prayers - Moshika vahana, Jaya Janaki Ramana and a salutation to Vishnu - Shobana commenced a rhythmic piece in Nattai- an anjali. Shobana and her students did varied geometric patterns on stage.

This was followed by a solo, the traditional shabhdam that is a rare treat these days as Mrs. Y.G.P. rightly commented after the recital. `Thathaiya kitathaka thathathaaa', in mishra chapu showed the audience the art form as it once was, in its past glory.

Shobana's sensuous grace and expressions suited the piece exceedingly well. The nayika asks her sakhi to help her out in the situation between her and Shiva, who is Thillai Ambala Vanan.

This was followed by the Dharuvarnam, `Maathe malayathwaja Pandya sanjathe'.The choreography needs special mention. The entry and exit of five students accompanying shobana were well planned. The sancharis were well placed and executed. This Khamas varnam showed Devi's moods and her different forms. The Kali episode that ended with a glorius pose won the applause of the audience. The episodes could have been explained for the benefit of the audience.

The aruthi given by the mridhangist Sri Ramakrishna at the end of the first-half was not only enjoyed by the audience, but by the Devi (Shobana) on stage as well.

The thattu meetus in different commutations and permutations in the second-half was a surprise to all those who usually have seen thakadimis done in monotony after every verse. The last swaram and sahithyam that ends with Da Da were very beautifully done. The four members on stage took cues from one another to do the entire sequence.

Shobhana went to the second-half of the recital with Maharaja Swathi Thirunal's `Manasethu Salamaina'- an expression piece. This was after a very quick dress change, that even made the audience gasp in astonishment after Shobana's entry. The essence of Kerala was seen in this piece - slow and soothing. Both the music and the dance filled with yearnings and love for a hero who is now ignoring the nayika.

The next was `Madhava Mamava' in Neelambari. This was a piece that showed different incidents from the life of Krishna, explaining the lines of the song. The Sudama incident was very well portrayed. The innocent look Krishna gives when asked for money by a Gopi for the butter, in another part of the item, stole the hearts of the audience.

The last padam was `Azhagu deivam' on Pazhani Andavar. Shobana took up Lalgudi's Desh Thillana and wove beautiful patterns out of it. The complex entry is to be mentioned here. Her grip over the thalam was very visible. Flautist Sri. MuthuKumar needs a special mention for the way he trailed the singer in the thillana.

It was not all over. There was a special item for Mrs. YGP, the Pambu dance in Punnagavarali. One has seen the item performed by Kumari Kamala in her times with several snake postures. Shobana, however, did it in her distinct style. She had also sent out a message - a message not to skin snakes for leather. The intent was well appreciated by Mrs. YGP and the audience.

Smt. Radha Badhri was brilliant. She reminded us of Bombay Jayashree in her soulful renditions. Kumari Revathy Kumar on the nattuvangam astonished us with her crystal clear voice coming out of her dainty form. Sri KalaiArasan did justice on the violin. The orchestra supported Shobana and her students in every way possible.

This time, Shobana's colourful Margam (she usually does thematic presentations) came as a joyous surprise for all. It was an overwhelming mix of bharathanatyam's past and present.