From the moment I entered the dance room to attend the Eka-A Tryst with the Divine performance, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen Bharatnatyam performances before but I still brought along a friend and trained Bharatnatyam dancer with me for help. I didn’t want to miss a thing, but it seems that it wasn’t necessary. The play was so expressive their message was clear and there was narrations in between to explain the history and purpose of it all. The dancers, Bharathi Penneswaran and Joytsna Kalyansundar were exquisite, music was amazing and over all an experience I highly recommend!
The performance was broken up into 8 segments, Chatushra Alarippu, Nandi Sol, Shabdam, Varnam, Ashtapadi, Javeli, Thilana and the Omana Thingal. Each segment told a story on life reflecting religious myths and legends. The choreography was stunning and so expressive that each story came across so clear to even those not familiar with Bharatnatyam knowledge. The dancers were beautifully accompanied by talented musicians, vocals were by Ramya Ramachandran, and Vignesh Ravichandran. Violin was played by Ranjini Swamy, Mridangam by Bala Skandan and Nattuvangam by Mohan Kulasingam.
Although both dancers performed beautifully it is the ease in which Bharathi’s movements flowed that caught my eye initially. Bharathi performed so gracefully, so smoothly it felt like I could get up and do the same steps myself! However once the dancers performed solo for certain segments, Jyotsna blew me away with her performance during the Javeli segment! Javeli is derived from the Kannada word meaning “lewd poetry” and is a sensuous performance that is both bold and playful. Jyotsna’s seductive expressions, the teasing choreography was a pleasure to watch, she truly embodied this sexual form. According to my friend, Bharatnatyam being a religion oriented most times the dancers wear short-sleeved or full sleeved outfits, this was the first time she had seen such costumes and sleeveless at that. The dancers definitely added a contemporary twist to their performances with creative costumes.
Over all this majestic journey with the divine is a worthwhile show to check out if you are in New York City. Presented by Aalokam, Eka- A tryst with the divine is a beautiful performance that you should definitely check out!
Photo Credit: Mark Aranha