New Jersey based Ramya Ramnarayan performed Vatavriksham, a tribute to her guru S.K. Rajarathnam Pillai  on the occasion of his 90th birth anniversary. Ramya commenced her performance with a Prabandha mala, where she strung together four pasurams describing the majesty of the Lord, oozing pure devotion. For the varnam, she chose Ma Mohalahiri Meeruthey (Khamas) on Muruga. Here, the nayika longs to meet the lord and looks for messengers. Considering and discarding her parrot and his peacock, she approaches the sakhi, extolls his virtues and convinces her to be the messenger. She is rebuffed and the nayika gets philosophical. Ramya portrayed the mature nayika effortlessly, traversing the myriad bhavas necessitated in the varnam. She leveraged the sahithyam and with skillful choreography kept moving the long story forward, transforming into characters and elaborating the emotions as appropriate.

The jatis were short, beautiful and provided the pauses between the scenes. In some places, the jatis flowed into the story, emphasising the character as it was in the segment with the peacock. The next dance composition was an experimental work, Surrender, where Ramya chose to elaborate the devotion of Meera and Andal through a bhajan and a Nachiyar Tirumozhi pasuram. Ramya’s interest in the Vaishnava works added a depth to the presentation. She concluded the performance with a Gambheeravani tillana with lyrics from Devi Mahathmyam.

The orchestra was rich with bhava and held its own. Swamimalai Suresh was on vocals and nattuvangam and evoked memories of S.K. Rajaratnam Pillai.

Vatavriksham held an old-world charm, leisurely and beautiful, with the right mix of nritta and natya and valuing the poetry. 



Sreelatha Rajan