Rama Vaidyanathan’s New Dimensions to the Margam Show
Veni, Vidi, Vici. Rather, let us change it to Venit, Vidit, Vicit to be more relevant.
Those words kept coming back to our minds watching Rama Vaidyanathan and ensemble take the stage for Atlanta on October 22 for the premier of her new production, “New Dimensions to the Margam.” She came, she saw, and she won us all with her captivating performance.
Every time Rama Vaidyanathan performs, the audience is taken on a roller coaster of emotions and senses. And this time, her stage presence transformed even a high-school auditorium into a magnificent cauldron of music and dance. As one connoisseur put it at the end, “the show was ethereal”.
Rama Vaidyanathan and ensemble put on a captivating new production.
From the deep dives into the Hari Saras (pond) in the Krishna Panchaka Mallari with her team, to the 30-minute varnam in Ragamalika and Adi talam using Mirabai’s Padavali “Jhuk aayi re badariya saawan ki” to showcase a heart getting drenched in the rain akin to Krishna’s golden touch; Rama and the team kept the audience completely submerged in the craft.
The Marathi Abhang “Vithala naamachi shaala bharali...” brought back memories of our childhood playing ball, skipping ropes, and transgressing outside into the unknown. . .and just evoked joy in our hearts. Incorporating playful abandon in a synchronized dance form while sticking to jati’s is difficult, but Rama’s choreography amazingly kept the dance within the guardrails while depicting innocence in its pure and divine form.
The crowd was then enthralled to an amazing abhinaya piece on Rabindranath Tagore’s composition “O Je Mane na Mana...” sung soothingly by Anugrah Lakshmanan, the vocalist to the sounds of the Khanjira played by Ashwin Subramanian, portraying a woman’s desire to not let her lover leave the house — a perfect soft, cozy, and romantic reminiscence to groove to.
And what higher note to end the show than a cosmic dance of Lord Shiva highlighting diverse nritta patterns, strong movements, reverberating footwork to the beats of the Mridangam by Sannidhi Vaidyanathan and an inimitable sense of coordination, dancing and breathing in unison by the young dancers, each one representing an avatar of Rama herself. Throughout the program, the amazing violin preludes and interludes by Vishwesh Swaminadhan gave the audience the highs and lows and time to catch their breaths, soak in what they saw and get ready for the next onslaught of choreographic innovation.
Live sound for classical music is an art and Jogy Jose again showed why he is sought after by classical musicians and artists who come into town. 92 minutes and it was over with everyone wanting more, and finally waking up from the trance to give a standing ovation to the team.
Bharatanatyam has come a long way. And Rama Vaidyanathan is on the leading edge pushing it forward for the masses and the mainstream. Widening the dimensions without compromising on the format is challenging. To Rama Vaidyanathan, appealing to purists and progressives, comes easy, for it is in her DNA. This was the first time Atlanta witnessed a Margam of Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Tamil in one production.
Anupa Thakurta and the Deeksha School of Performing Arts’ efforts showed why we need more and how it can be done.
—Abir Thakurta, Pictures by Venkat Kutta
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