It feels as though Anuka King has grown up in front of our eyes. Since her arangetram in 2006 under Guru Adyar K. Lakshman, Anuka has performed regularly in Chennai despite having moved out of the country many years ago. In between, she has matured from a sprightly, charming 10-year old into an accomplished young adult.
Anuka continued her training under well-known dancer-teachers, Shobanaa Bhalchandra, Bragha Bessell and Nithyakalyani Vaidyanathan, the latter two for abhinaya. Her Bharatanatyam performance for the Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha Dance Festival underlined the skills she has developed — lightness and agility in her steps, dignity in her carriage and an easy comfort with the stylised expressions and exaggeration required for miming.
Anuka commenced with a Mallari (Gambhiranattai, Rupaka, Nellai D. Kannan) followed by an ode to Siva, ‘Shankara Shiva Gangadhara’ (Hamsadhwani, Rupaka). She breezed through the embedded nadai and kaala changes in the Mallari, and the description of Madana’s killing in the opening prayer, with the ease of an acrobat performing a somersault.
The Khamas daru Varnam, ‘Mathe’ (Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, Adi) in praise of Madurai Meenakshi had vibrant rhythmic passages, such as the first jathi presenting each speed in a different nadai, the second jathi using the khanda nadai in different speeds, especially arresting when the third speed slips back into the first, etc. Another interesting feature was the restrained pace of the all-important mukthayi swara passage, that allowed the music and the dance to permeate through softly. Kudos to Shobanaa for designing the varnam sensitively. Devi’s navarasa through lines from Soundarya Lahari during the charanam was convincing.
Post-varnam, the fare was all-Krishna. In the javali ‘Mathuraa nagarilo’ (Anandabhairavi, Adi, Chittoor Subramanya Pillai) a gopi is waylaid by Krishna and she begs him to let her go, promising to return after sunset. Anuka…