Rukmini Vijayakumar, is a very well-known name in the field of Bharatanatyam. She is a self-made, multi-talented artist and the Bentonville community was really lucky to have an artist of such stature perform for them. Talattu is Rukmini's latest creation which was choreographed and presented exquisitely. The very concept of a mother's love in the context of a child being taken away from her, and a lover's departure is a heavy and emotional one. Rukmini's Talattu was exceptionally multifaceted in expression with a crisp narrative.
Rukmini Vijayakumar started her performance with Ardhanareeshwara Krithi. A very stern look on her face at the beginning set the tone for what was to come. Her use of karanas were very satisfying to watch and felt as if Ardhanareeshwara himself/herself was performing. As much as it was masculine, it was feminine. As much as it was aggressive, it was contained. As much as it was firm, it was flowing. Her firm footwork was audible despite the fact that she had not worn bells around her ankle (this last due to audio issues at the venue). Next she performed a varnam on Yashodha, a very beautiful composition by Rajkumar Bharathi. A varnam is typically an amalgamation of both nritta and abhinaya which is done separately and looks compartmentalized. Rukmini's varnam also had equal amount of nritta and abhinaya but was not compartmentalized, rather she beautifully used all her jathis to narrate stories along with the sahithyas. It was mesmerizing to watch her do abhinaya with her jathis which was a fresh and new experience for me. Her portrayal of a mother touched every mother in the audience. Be it the satisfaction in seeing your child sleeping peacefully, joy of watching your child being happy and playful, playing along with your child's naughtiness or the pain in knowing that your child is actually not yours and hence he has to leave, was very realistic and delicately portrayed.
Rukmini's dedication to the art form was evident in all her moves. When she announced her piece on Radha, I was puzzled to hear a grand piano play as background music. At first I thought it was a mistake as it had a very western feel but with Rukmini's entance, all confusion was clarified. It appeared that she had meticulously planned it so as to reach out to both young and mature audiences. Rukmini's portrayal of Radha and her conversation with Krishna only through sub text along with a touch of western music made an instant connection with her younger audience. The way Radha said goodbye to Krishna with reluctance left the audience on an emotional high.
She concluded Talattu with kadanakuthuhala thillana. It was the crown of the show. Her practice, dedication to the art and joy of dancing was highlighted in the thillana. The lack of breathlessness, high energy, jumps, leaps, beautiful sculpturesque karanas, rhythmic and intricate footwork, balance and a very strong hold on her body was spellbinding. It was a visual treat to a dancer like me. It is the same magic that she creates every time that I watch her perform. Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation has yet again proved its good taste in selecting artists. I hope they keep up the good work and help students get exposed to more such artists.
By Megha P Rao
Dancer and Teacher