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Valli - Poetry In Motion

Ranjani Saigal

As hurricane Sandy was pounding New England with her ferocious winds, the great Bharatanatyam dancer Padma Bushan Alermel Valli delighted the New England audience with her presentation “Scent of the Earth”. The concert hosted by MITHAS was held at the Kresgee Auditorium at MIT on Oct 28. Valli is a big fan of poetry and thinks of dance as poetry in motion. That idea came through clearly from the get go.

For her opening piece, Valli reached into the classics and used verses from Abhigyana Sakunthalam, Silappadikaram and Atharva Veda to depict the spiritual and romantic aspects of earth.  The pieces are deep and Valli succeeded in conveying the deep meanings hidden in these pieces. 
The central piece of the evening was a Tamil adaptation of a Telugu Varnam.  The Varnam Samikku Samanam Yevaradi” was rendered in the typical Valli style, with strong Jathis, interesting nadais and Sanchari that was customized to suit the theme of the production. The reaction of nature – trees and streams to Lord Krishna’s music was highlighted to suit the theme. Valli also did present some of the traditional elaboration of the lovelorn Nayika yearing for Lord Krishna, Valli then moved on to  Sangam literature and choice a poem titled  "Karungkal Vembin",  The central theme of the piece was the description of the sorrow of a woman whose lover has left her.  The poem uses unique relatively unfamiliar similies. The heroine talks about the humiliation she faces from other women who attack her like a fallen fig is being attacked by hungry crabs and likens her diminishing confidence to that of drying flowers on a neem tree. A lovely Javali and Thillana brought the concert to a conclusion. The evening ended with a lecture on Bharatanatyam by Hari Balakrishnan and Alarmel Valli.

The orchestra with Nandini Sharma Anand, Natarajan Sigamani on the violin, Saktivel Murugan on the mridangam and C.K. Vasudevan on the cymbals was phenomenal. Overall it was a wonderful experience to watch a live dance recital by this Maestro who has dedicated her life to dance. 
The concert was made possible by through the generosity of several dance teachers and patrons. MITHAS is to be congratulated on bringing such a fine presentation to New England.

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Photo: Courtesy Saravanan Meyyappan

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