“VARSHA” by Geeta Chandran

Geeta Chandran is the flag bearer of the classical Bharatnatyam dance. She has been trained by Smt Saraswathy in the Thanjavur bani and Guru K N Dakshinamurthi Pillai. She has received training in Abhinaya with gurus Jamuna Krishnan and Kalanidhi Narayanan.A padmashri awardee, she is an eminent Bharatnatyam dancer, Carnatic music vocalist and has worked extensively in choreography, dance education and dance-issue journalism. She has experimented with issues and concerns of contemporary relevance in Bharatnatyam. She is the founder president of Natya Vriksha, where she teaches and promotes this dance form. She has received many fellowships and prestigious awards and has performed all over the world.

Geeta Chandran performed at the Ananya dance festival 2010 at the old Fort. ‘Varsha’ a choreographic piece, was performed by her Natya Vriksha company at the festival. This was based on Kalidasa’s poetry about which she said, “his poetry is so rich and so filigreed for dance. And the imagery is perfect to be translated into dance.”Varsha has been chosen from ‘Ritusamhara’. When asked how she translates poetry into the language of dance, this is what she had to say “I read the poetry again and again until some spark comes to my mind. The final composition is reached after a lot of sifting. Poetry is one layer. When you give it music and sing it, you give it a second layer. And lastly when you give it a visual dimension, it becomes a third layer. Sometimes it is the words of the poetry that are highlighted, at others it is the music that over shadows and still at other times it is the actions which become important. It cannot be the same monochromatic thing. The choreography changes with the venue and the theme. One cannot have a fixed style. Thank God, we are in a culture where I am allowed to play with the composition. Traditional and contemporary, both challenge me equally. I respect the traditional, but I also like to push the frontiers. You just have to have the musicians who understand you.”

Varsha is about the monsoon season which brings an end to the hot and sultry summer days. Every one longs for it. The clouds and lightning in the sky are pleasant signs of the rain to come. Then the raindrops fall to the earth, delighting everybody. The dancers depicted this by playfully enjoying the rain. The peacocks dance in the rain. They are drenched with happiness as the dancers depicted them. But the rain in its torrential form brings floods, disaster and destruction. The clouds thunder like charging elephants and the lightning lights the sky. The misery such rain brings to all was very effectively depicted by the dancers.

The second part of this piece was about a couple who are in the midst of a tiff. The ‘nayika’ is scared by the lightning and rushes to hide in her lover’s embrace, which brings an end to the argument. Following which, the two go to bed in a lip lock and in an embrace. This was shown by Geeta in a solo performance and her expressions depicted both the lovers’ emotions beautifully.