Grace of odissi

Dr Dhanya Thurairajah’s dance performance in Sadhana was a memorable show of muscular grace and poetic fluidity, writes Subhadra Devan LYRICISM virtually flowed from her hands as Dr Dhanya Thurairajah performed her Sadhana (offering) to odissi and her teachers, past and present. Her precise footwork, graceful body movement and energetic leaps in the black box of the Temple of Fine Arts made for a riveting watch. Of course, the beauty of the performance was only enhanced by the classical features of the petite dancer. dhanyaThe 75-minute show, titled Sadhana – The Grace Through Odissi, saw Dhanya showcasing her years of tireless training in Indian classical dance under various teachers, including Geetha Sankaran-Lam and Umesh Shetty. While trained initially under Geetha, who is well-versed in the more well-known and muscular Guru Debaprasad Das style, Dhanya offered works by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, known more for fluidity. From her opening mangalacharan, invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha, to the finale of moksha, the dancer executed the moves with neat vigour. The entire show would have been mesmerising if not for the lengthy narration that preceded each segment of dance. However, it did not detract from the thrilling and all-too-short performance. The pure dance piece, Batu Nritya, showed Dhanya’s expressive tribhangi movements making sculptures come alive while the Pallavi (which literally means blossoming) showcased Dhanya’s technical prowess, eye movements as well as fluid hand mudras which fan-like efforts was maintained throughout the performance. Done in raag megh, the rapid footwork drew some applause while the dancer’s elegant movements held even in the faster passages. In the Durga stuthi, the dancer’s facial expressions came through as she vividly portrayed this powerful female goddess, right down to killing the demon with gesture and eyes. The small space allowed an intimacy between audience and dancer which could have made for even better viewing if the seating was all round the stage, rather than on one side. In the finale Moksha (in bhairavi ek taal), Dhanya danced the unity of body and soul with the divine, through rhythm.The moksha was too short to feel any of such emotions. However, the journey of the dancer is ever flowing. So the performance is rightly called Sadhana which is a discipline in the pursuit of a goal. Dhanya has proven to be a captivating dancer.

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