Mythili Prakash & Ensemble
Dance Base – National Centre for Dance
As part of Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Image Credit: Courtesy of the Artist
Thursday, August 16, 2012
For her Fringe debut, California-based bharatanatyam dancer, Mythili Prakash, presents Natyam, a three-part performance extraordinaire at Edinburgh’s premiere dance venue, Dance Base. Prakash began her training in the Thanjavur tradition under the direction of her mother, Smt Viji Prakash, herself a virtuoso performer and disciple of some of the great masters in Bombay; and has since performed extensively in India and America to great critical acclaim. But how will she fair at the world’s biggest arts festival?
With the musicians in place – Easwar Ramakrishnan on violin, Pirashanna Thevarajah on mridangam and Aditya Prakash on vocals – the performance begins with Suraya, an invocation to the energy of the Sun and, indeed, of the dancer, her ensemble and the eagerly awaiting audience. This item is predominantly driven by technique, or nritta, which shows Prakash’s sensitivity to a mostly unacquainted (in bharatanatyam terms at least) audience. She shows strength in stillness (her posture and alignment are perfectly placed), and strength in movement (razor-sharp chakkadar spins and tatkar so pronounced it’s a wonder the stage floor remains intact), which she balances with softness in the face and a tremendous warmth in the heart.
In a costume of glistening gold, green and red, and henna-dipped hands and feet, Prakash takes to the microphone to address her audience and explain the story that we are about to see through mudras hand gestures. The piece, named Leela which means play, depicts the mischievous qualities of Krishna and as a perfect circle of light emerges centre stage, perfect symmetry is created between Prakash’s body and its shadow – the perfect space for this story to come alive. After a brief exit, Prakash returns to the mic once more to introduce the final item, the grand finale. And grand it is, a display of ingenuity, virtuosity and finesse where melody and rhythm, technique and narrative combine to create something unique. Her strength is in the balance of all these elements and that is how Prakash captures the heart and soul.