Jyotsana Jagannathan’s Bharatanatyam performance at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha’s Pongal festival, held in January 2023. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Bharatanatyam dancer Jyotsna Jagannathan is presenting a padavarnam, ‘Sarasijakshudu’ (Kalyani, Rupaka, Sivanandam of the Thanjavur Quartet), in which the composer praises the ‘lotus-eyed’ Krishna. She walks to a spot on stage, at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, and pictures a pond with lotuses. As she is admiring them, Krishna walks past. She sets the context poetically.
This is the value addition that Jyotsna’s maturity brings. She is a complete dancer—her nritta sparkles with excellent footwork and grace, while her interpretations are expressive. ‘Sarasijakshudu’ draws up the imagery of a procession winding its way and all that the nayika sees are the lotus eyes. She is lost in wonder, in love too.
Unfortunately, the clarity in the imagery, did not continue through the performance. Her body is burning, she is crying and tears make puddles that Krishna uncaringly plays in – is featured in the second part of the pallavi ‘Sami ninnu jera vaccitiraa naa’ roughly meaning, ‘I have come to be with you.’ In her artistic journey, Jyotsna stretches the imagery beyond the boundary of the words. Like the unhurried manner of a picture story in a padam, she seeks to deepen the shringara impact. It is a good start, but needs to be refined.
The theermanams (Nagai Sriram) shines with the dancer’s fitness and timing and the nattuvanar Uday Shankar Lal’s capable handling. The one in tisra and the subsequent rhythmic sequence, ‘Jhanu taka’ were particularly arresting. The cymbals’ high pitch was jarring though.
Having caught Subramanya red-handed, the nayaika is unforgiving in ‘Idai vida’ (Saveri. Rupaka, Subbarama Iyer). She accuses him of infidelity and refuses to hear any explanation. The anger was maintained till the end, but one felt the emotional connect needed more depth with the hurt and sarcasm to build the mood.
The long-suffering Radha in the Ashtapadi ‘Pasyati disi disi’, seeking Krishna is consumed and sees him everywhere. She loses her identity and in her languid state dresses up like him. Jyotsna did well in this intense piece, helped along by Easwar Ramakrishnan (violin) and PK Sivaprasad (mridangam) with Deepu Nair demonstrating what a sensitive singer he can be.