Bhavajan Kumar’s performance was backed by good music

The Music Academy’s dance festival witnessed the emergence of a promising talent in the world of Bharatanatyam with the performance of Bhavajan Kumar, a disciple of renowned exponents Leela Samson and Jyotsna Narayan. His presentation on January 7, 2024, has left an indelible mark on the classical dance scene, showcasing a finesse that denotes both his cultural inheritance and his personal dedication to the art form.

From the outset, Kumar’s interpretation of ‘Ananda natana prakasam’ (Kedaram, Misra Chapu) composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar and visualized by his guru Leela Samson, was met with admiration. It stood out for its intricate jathis which he executed with a balance of dynamism and composure. The slower pace of the singing, particularly the charanam, only served to amplify the grace and charm of the performance. The impeccable timing and nuanced delivery allowed the audience to fully absorb the rhythmic intricacies and the emotional essence of the piece.

The padavarnam ‘Samiyai azhaithodi vaa’ (navaragamalika, Adi) by K.N. Dandayuthapani Pillai, visualised again by Samson, was approached with a creative flair. An unusual trikala jathi segment showcased Bhavajan’s command over tempo, as he maintained a single adavu for extended counts before transitioning into a faster-paced section replete with leaps and bounds. Despite a slightly prolonged theermanam, Kumar’s agility and impeccable sense of timing ensured he came through with flying colors. Notably, a second jathi featuring cross rhythms encapsulated the symbiosis of music and dance that underpinned his entire performance.

As an accompaniment to Bhavajan’s dance, a quintet of musicians set the auditory framework. Girish Kumar’s cymbals rang with a pitch that, although a tad high, complemented the rhythm. G. Vijayaraghavan on the mridangam, Praveen Kumar’s vocal renditions, K.P. Nandini with the violin, and Sujith Naik’s flute performance collectively cast an aural landscape that both framed and fueled the dancer’s movements.

While the performance was generally met with acclaim, there were moments when Kumar’s articulation seemed to lack the desired clarity. In delving into the philosophical aspects of the keerthanam ‘Nanati baduku natakamu’ (Revathi, Adi) by Annamacharya, visualized by Shantha and V.P. Dhananjayan, a certain level of complexity was apparent. Nonetheless, Bhavajan approached the challenge with courage, revealing his capacity to engage with subject matters possessing depth and substance.

As the program advanced, there appeared to be a slight wane in the dancer’s nritta, the pure dance element that demands stamina and physical prowess. However, this did not detract significantly from the overall mastery evident throughout the recital. The closing piece, Purvi swaranjali (Rupaka), attributed to Tirugokarnam Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and visualized by Samson, served as an appropriate finale. This composition, believed to predate the ever-popular thillana, engages with the synesthetic elements associated with various swaras—including colors and animals—offering a spectacle of visual and auditory symbolism.

Bhavajan Kumar’s aesthetic rendition at the prestigious Music Academy’s dance festival not only underscores his status as a rising star in the Bharatanatyam firmament but also reaffirms the vibrant continuity and evolution of this ancient dance form. His performance stood as a poignant reminder of the power inherent in classical dance to convey complex emotive narratives through the symbiosis of movement and music.

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