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Leela Samson highlights the essence of group choreography in ‘Agathee – The Inner Fire’

By Sampad Oct30,2023
Dancers of Spanda Dance Company performing at the Provoke Art Festival in Chennai

Dancers of Spanda Dance Company performing at the Provoke Art Festival in Chennai
| Photo Credit: S. R. Raghunathan

Revisiting old choreographic works has twin advantage — a nostalgic trip for the dancer while for the audience an opportunity to understand the artiste’s creative oeuvre. One experienced this at Leela Samson’s Spanda Dance Company’s ‘Agathee – The Inner Fire’ staged at Lady Andal auditorium on the inaugural day of the Provoke Art Festival.
Conceived and choreographed in 1995, this work drew attention and garnered appreciation then for moving away from the traditional storytelling and solo format and lending a fresh perspective to Bharatanatyam. .

Leela Samson

Leela Samson
| Photo Credit:
S. R. Ragunathan

Firmly rooted in the traditional technique, Spanda Matrika, the first piece, was a beautiful exploration of the aesthetics and core elements of group presentation. From the time the dancers entered the stage in a leisurely pace, silhouetted by a diagonal beam of light, the varied permutation and combination of lines and formations with achieved with finesse. Focusing on the five time cycles — chatusram, tisram, mishram, kandam and sankeernam — the choreography highlighted the essence of group dynamics through well-designed and synchronised movements.
This engrossing visual language was enhanced by excellent music. O.S. Arun, who in his early years used to sing for dance, brought great joy to the viewing experience with his seamless flow of swaras and tanams. .

Spanda Dance Company’S ‘Agathee - The Inner Fire’ 

Spanda Dance Company’S ‘Agathee – The Inner Fire’ 
| Photo Credit:
S. R. Raghunathan

The beautiful Muthuswami Dikshitar kriti ‘Ardhanareeshwaram’ in raga Kumudakriya was the abhinaya-centric. After a prelude describing the distinct attributes of Shiva and Parvati, Leela Samson elaborated the kriti in detail. Dancing in a leisurely pace, the delineation of ardhanarishwar was poignant and devoid of drama. Subtle details such as wearing the mattal on the ears, or the snake around the neck, the portrayal had both the majesty of the masculine form and the grace of the feminine.

A medley of Lalgudi Jayaraman’s thillanas in ragas Revathi, Madhuvanti and Kalyanavasantham brought the curtains down.

By Sampad

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