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Poetry In Motion: Nirupama & Rajendra

Pallavi Nagesha

“Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.”  Khalil Gibran.

The transformation occurred at the DCU center on August 31st in the neighborhood of 10:00 pm when Nirupama and Rajendra, the exquisite dancing duo took stage. Their performance concluded the 2nd night of the NAVIKA 2013 World Summit, sending the entire audience into a trance that lasted for days thereafter.

As the curtains opened, I saw ethereal beings waft onto the stage as if on air. Nirupama moves with the grace of a swan. Her feet beat in crazy rhythm while her whole being elegantly glides through the movement. Rajendra’s poise beautifully compliments his power. The couple has energy and chemistry that goes beyond their art. The connection of their souls is palpable in their dance. It is not just a pleasure to watch them, it is an experience. You ride the wave of emotions along with them and reach a place of sublimity. Their art is the perfect encounter for the Rasika.

Aided by the compositions of the musical genius Praveen D. Rao, they began their performance with a piece entitled Rang. My heart beat a little faster and I sat up a little straighter as an intangible choreography around life and its many vistas unfurled in their colorful scarves. I felt as if I was hanging by the end of their scarves and was gliding along on the ecstasy airstream! Traditional Kathak blended with salsa and ballet moves to spread light in every shade. This vibrant piece segued into raphsodic melodies of the monsoon winds in Varsha. The change in atmosphere as people begin to anticipate the rains. Charged particles course through lives and heighten senses. All emotions are felt with an intensity that sweeps over you and washes you away. Nirupama, the nayika is excited about the arrival of rain. Rajendra plays the rain, the rain clouds and the unruly monsoon wind. A subtle metaphor for relationships. The anticipation, the apprehension and the amour, all surfacing under the sensual blanket of dark, intense rain clouds. Here, the husband and wife played off each other’s innate desire, to paint a beautiful picture of passion and playfulness. The mood was enhanced by the lilting sounds of the flute flowing from Pravin Gorkhindi’s lips!

The sprightly playfulness heralded the whimsical repartee between Krishna, Radha and the entire Brindavana. In a Kannada translation of Rusli Radha, Nirupama and Rajendra invoked all Brindavana and the impassioned ire of our protagonists. Once again the chemistry on stage was genuine and intense. Through them, we see the unconditional love of Radha and the heartbreaker in Krishna. We saw how the one perfect relationship can lift spirits or cast a pall over an entire village, people and animals alike. Whether they are portraying pairs of humans cross at each other, or animals in disharmony the forest, their grace and vigor and superb abhinaya was absolutely mesmerizing. Going back and forth between loving glances and searing glares, Nirupama and Rajendra give us a glimpse into the roller coaster of life and its intimate relationships.

The crowning glory was Tadha. An abstract choreography that reveals nuances of delicate movements and force. Dressed in gorgeous tones of purple, the couple glided around the stage in Jazz, Afro, Kathak steps that captivated and elevated all. I am in absolute awe of their energy and their breathtaking elegance. The control with which they execute their moves is stunning and the total effect they create with the perfect combinations of elegance, energy, expression and effervescence, is extraordinary. The seamless balance of the traditional and modern creates a unique window into art and storytelling. Nirupama and Rajendra are indeed the story themselves. Nirupama believes in keeping with the times and reinventing the traditional to adhere to the tastes of the current milieu. Their deep understanding of dance and visual presentation results in a spectacular show that touches the very core of the art admirer. The deluge poured over a captivated audience, whose only choice was to be swept away. This was quite evident in the final piece of Conversation the couple had, which began as rhythmic duel between Rajendra’s taala rendition and Nirupama’s footwork. The conversation between the couple expanded and dispersed into the audience and had the audience conversing with the artists! What a magical moment. Having seen them perform one cannot help but feel everything around oneself more intensely and appreciate it more completely! I for one am left with an insatiable thirst for beauty in the mundane and have had a Tadha moment every time I encounter simple pleasures and overt beauty. I hope the culturally rich Boston Indian audiences get a chance to see them soon and experience this astounding transformation.

(Photo Credits: Srinivas Ambati )

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