Laasya Narasimhachari explored the myriad emotions of Ashtanayika at the Pallava Art Festival


Pallava Art festival, an annual dance event hosted by Indu and Nideesh under their banner Indisha Trust, featured many young and experienced dancers. The final performance in this series, was a Kuchipudi recital by Laasya Narasimhachari.

She chose compositions from the Kuchipudi repertoire of her parents and gurus, Vasanthalakshmi and Narasimhachari. The performance began with a piece addressed to goddess Bala Tripurasundari of Kuchipudi village, the poorvarangam ‘Jayamu Sri Bala Tripurasundariki’ was a song in raga Hamsadhwani and Kamboji.

A ragamalika padam on Ashtanayika was interesting as it focused on a woman’s journey through love and longing. Written by Premendra, music composed and choreographed by Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi, this padam gave ample scope for the dancer to explore her abhinaya skills.

Myriad emotions of a nayika

As the audience got drawn into the melody of raga Kalyani played on the veena by Bhavani Prasad, the dancer came under the spotlight to introduce each of the eight nayikas and their moods through simple stances and sculpturesque poses. She later explored with conviction the myriad shades of the nayika’s emotions as she caresses a lotus in bloom, delicately picks the flower that falls on her shoulder, slams the door in anger, and then runs to open it to see her lover walking away.

‘Paravasa padam ee natya kalaiye’ highlighting 11 aspects of dance as mentioned in Natya Shastra was like a crash course on the art form. Based on a 10-minute composition, conceived many years ago by the Narasimhacharis to help young students understand Bharatanatyam, it has been expanded and adapted to Kuchipudi, with Vasanthalakshmi writing the lyrics in Telugu. This song captured the grammar of dance in a visually appealing manner. Rasa, bhava, vritti, pravritti, swara, gana and ranga, and other such technicalities have been incorporated aesthetically to sustain interest.

Nattuvangam was by Vasanthalakshmi. The orchestral team comprising S. Veeraraghavan (vocals), Guru Bharadwaj (mridangam), Bhavani Prasad (veena) and Sruti Sagar (flute) kept the momentum high with their support.

The Chennai-based writer reviews classical dance.

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