With the studied grace that typifies her intrinsic style, celebrated Bharatnatyam dancer and Padma Shri awardee Geeta Chandran presented her latest composition Dooti Vilasam at the Chinmaya Auditorium recently.
The solo one-hour show was an expanded poem in dance celebrating human relationships --- how a tender friendship between two girls who have grown up together, with a multitude of shared happy, sad and otherwise memorable experiences, is shattered with misgivings. In Dooti Vilasam, Geeta reconstructed the traditional margam of Bharatanatyam to emerge with a format that is fresh and fragrant, pleasing the audience with her mastery over the art at the same time.
Inspired by a wide canvas of creative writing on the theme of friendship that spans from Aristotle to Rumi and Charles Lamb, Dooti Vilasam is conceptualised in three sections: ‘Just the other day’, ‘The Plea’ and ‘Shattered Glass’. ‘Just the other day’ traces the tender beginnings of a fragile friendship that has withstood the wrath of time. The friends grow up into the second section ‘The Plea’ where desires have arisen; unable to bear the torment of her friend in love, the other sakhi ventures to the hero to advocate her friend’s case. In ‘Shattered glass,’ this friendship has been trespassed by doubts of the other’s integrity and recriminations take over. Geeta presents the refracted emotions.
Geeta Chandran’s performance presented her awesome talent in both tala (rhythm) and bhava (expressional) aspects of Bharatanatyam. The structure takes from Alarippu, Jatiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Tillana. Only it is not sequenced separately, but rather flows seamlessly into the larger gush of the theme that the performance seeks to engage viewers with.
Clearly, in choreographing Dooti Vilasam, Geeta Chandran envisioned revitalising the traditional margam of Bharatanatyam that is often cast aside as repetitive or even tiresome. Here tradition is given a charming twist, making it fresh and appealing.
Geeta Chandran says that in the crafting of Dooti…, she has synthesised the knowledge she received from a galaxy of eminent gurus to imprint Bharatanatyam with her personal vision of the dance. She skilfully weaves abstract notions of joy, beauty, values, aspirations, mythand spirituality. Evidently, this is a piece for posterity.