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A delightful dance by Lavanya Ananth
Lavanya Ananth gave a dance recital for Narada Gana Sabha on the afternoon of December 29, 2008. A disciple of Swamimalai Shri S.K. Rajaratnam Pillai and Smt.K.J. Sarasa, she follows the Vazhuvoor paani of Bharathanatyam. What one will notice first on seeing Lavanya is her height. As many say, height could be a disadvantage for a Bharathanatyam dancer, as it requires a deeper araimandi and makes it difficult to perform certain adavus with grace and finesse. But Lavanya defied the notion and proved it otherwise. With her pleasing countenance and firm, graceful and steady movements, Lavanya held the audience gripped throughout her performance.

She began the day's recital with Nrittanjali, a piece in Brindavanasaranga and Aadhi thalam. She followed it up with a Devi sthuthi that comprised verses from Lalitha Sahasranamam and Rajeshwari Ashtakam. In this item, she outlined the various forms of Goddess Durga such as Ambika, Sambhavi, Rajeswari and Meenakshi. While the sthuthi portion of the item created the divine mood, the nritta portion, though well executed, became a little bit monotonous with the repeated use of the Gudhittha metti adavu.

The next item was the celebrated varnam "Swami naan undhan adimai", a composition of Papanasam Sivan in Nattakurunji. The varnam was preceeded by slokas in praise of Shiva from Manickavaachagam and Thirumandhiram. In this Bhakthi-sringaara varnam, there were no usual episodes of the heroine getting dressed, adorning herself with jewels and waiting for the hero - Lord Shiva. (Thanks to the choreography!) Lavanya beautifully depicted how the heroine hears Shiva's voice in the chirping of the birds, the sound of his damaru in a flowing river and so on. In the saranam. the heroine addresses her Lord as Sachidhaanandha, which was neatly depicted by the dancer. She as well showed her expertise in Nritta and her sense of thaalam in the theermanams, particularly in the first thrikaala jathi.

She then moved on to play the Khandita Nayika in "Yaahi Maadhava Yaahi Keshava" - Jayadeva's Ashtapadhi, in Sindhu Bhairavi. Lavanya expressed the deep sorrow and disappointment of Radha, caused by Krishna's union with another Gopi. Krishna comes with tell-tale marks all over his body and lies to Radha, in an attempt to appease her anger. Her abhinayam showcased her in-depth understanding of the lyrics and maturity as a dancer. The next item, a Devarnama-Jagadhodhaarana in Kaapi, a famous composition of Purandara Dasa, was also well-handled. She beautifully brought to life a few childhood pastimes of Lord Krishna in this item. Lavanya concluded with an energetic and lively Swaralaya composition in Ragamaalika and taalamaalika. K. Shajilal (Nattuvangam) provided great support to Lavanya. Notable was Mr. Murali Parthasarathy's emotive rendition of the varanam. Mr. M.S. Sukhi was on the mridangam. He had composed the Nrittanjali, Swaralaya and a few theermanams of the varnam. Mr. R. Kalaiarasan played the violin.

Lavanya's frequent walking across the stage to pick the fallen bells from her Salangai was quite disturbing. Her poses were repetitive and so was the use of the paaidhal and gudhittha meti adavus. But by her neat execution of the adavus, wonderful handling of the varnam and the abhinaya-oriented pieces; she made up for these flaws. Lavanya's performance proved that she was not only an eye-catching and visually delightful dancer, but also an intelligent one.