Natyam @ Dance Base
Whilst much contemporary dance is abstract, only communicating a theme or narrative obliquely, the classical Indian dance form Bharata Natyam represents narratives more literally. In Natyam, dancer Mythili Prakash provides a sort of handy overview of this traditional form with a three-part piece showcasing the different components of Bharata Natyam. These are: Nritta, pure dance technique, which involves the whole body; Abhinaya, the emotive aspect which mainly involves use of facial expression; and Natya, the theatrical aspect, wherein the performer embodies the characters in a narrative.
Before the performance of each segment, Prakash provides the audience with a brief introduction explaining the theme or story and directly translating some of the actions used in the telling. This is a nice touch that makes the work more accessible for the Bharata Natyam novice and also adds depth to the performance.
The work is a delight to witness, equally sumptuous in terms of the traditional costume worn by the performer, the expansive fluidity of the movement itself, and the richly textured live accompaniment provided by a trio of musicians. Particularly staggering are the rippling ululations of vocalists Aditya Prakash and Pirashanna Thevarajah, which function as an echo of the rhythm created by Prakash’s percussive feet.
Prakash is an elegant and gracious performer, who communicates her love for the form both in the dancing of it, and in her accompanying explanations. This is a beautiful piece of dancing that is bolstered by three very talented musicians to produce a joyful exposition of a traditional Indian form.