Sweta Ravisankar paid homage to Bharathiar’s evergreen verses on Dec 20, 2015, at an event hosted by Bharati Tamil Sangam to celebrate the poet’s birthday. The venue, Shirdi Sai Parivaar’s hall in Milpitas, California, was perfect for this intimate experience.
Sweta started out strong with a crisp and cleanly executed Mallari. There were unusual combinations of steps, which made it watchable. Noteworthy was the end, where Sweta switched hastas to depict instruments, ending with a look of bhakti. This was immediately followed by Manadhil Urudhi Vendum in Thillang. The piece started out fast; the treatment of the song was unexpectedly soft as opposed to inspiring, but the dance was executed well. Sweta elaborated the words through her expressions, and delivered the meaning of the song through her angika abhinaya; firm, sweet, bold, and brave, per the words.
Next was a multi-hued Chinnanchiru Kiliye in Ragamalika. Starting out as a doting mother speaking to her little child, Sweta brought Bharathiar’s poem to life, taking us on a journey of love, rapture, and motherly adoration, anxiety, drama, and dreams. Noteworthy was when the nayika said “You are my very breath.”
Thaka Thaka Endru Aadomo in Shivashakti, was a glorious celebration of Shakti, indeed, there were numerous and varied poses for the Devi- if the hasta was the same, the angle was different. Sweta’s unflagging ability to finishing all her nritta segments shone here- though adding some more fire and fury in the depiction of Devi will be a good way to emphasize the Shakti aspect next time.
The theme for Odi Vilayaadu Papa in Behag felt repetitive, though Sweta’s execution was energetic and engrossing. The last was a Kavadi Chindu as a prayer for the recent Chennai flood victims.
Overall, Sweta’s style of presentation is crisp and clean, facial expressions are focused and unhurried; no movement was compromised throughout the hour long performance. Also noteworthy were the mixed teeramanums, many of them beginning mid-thalam. However, Sweta must address her audience between pieces to make it personal, otherwise the sheer efficiency of execution will at times leave the audience impressed but untouched.
The audio left something to be desired, if one must use recordings, the quality must be above par. The music however was of a superior caliber- Vocal: TM Krishna (kutcheri recordings); Nandini Anand, Padmini Radhakrishnan; Nattuvangam: Padmini Radhakrishnan and Roja Kannan; Mridangam: S. Ravisankar(Sweta’s father) and Nellai D. Kannan; Violin: B. Anantharaman, TK Padmanabhan.
More about Sweta at swetaravisankar.com