Akhandalaya—Unvanquished Rhythm, a Bharatnatyam opera, conceptualised and choreographed by renowned dancer Acharya Jayalakshmi Eshwar was staged at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on July 31.
Akhandalaya explores ever flowing cycle of creation, continuance and culmination of rhythm of the universe. Presented in four segments, The Eternal Rhythm, Configuration of Rhythm, Perpetual Rhythm and Akhandalaya, it explains the Vedic philosophy that whatsoever moves in the universe, including the moving universe itself is pervaded by the Lord.
The first segment, The Eternal Rhythm, set the tone of the evening ,starting at the dawn of creation itself with the beat of Shiva’s drum/udukkai and the sun riding on seven horses ushering in day and night, and changing seasons. This beautifully choreographed section used musical score of Gopal Rao Pranandi from Chennai, Tagore’s songs in Bengali and poems by Preeti Hajeral in Hindi.
Configuration of Rhythm, the second segment is explained through intricate Bharatnatyam syllables of Jathis, which are notes and time cycles in different patterns and combinations. The Vedic philosophy and the musical pillars in ancient temples being their base. Jayalakshmi and her deciples flawlessly rendered the complex composition of Sama Jathi, Vishama Jathi ,Mridanga Jathi ,Damaru Jathi, Gopuchha Jathi and Srotovaha Jathi. Music presentation was by Sudha Rahguraman while jathis by Thanjavoor Keshvam’
The most enthralling was the third segment, The Perpetual Rhythm. This unending cycle is depicted how the water from rivers and oceans evaporate to form cloud that eventually come down as rain to merge from where it began. Here the ballad is based on the mythology of holy Ganga’s journey, forming Panch Prayag on her way to finally merge with the ocean. Similar is the nature’s food chain. Insects like grasshoppers which feed on grass, are food for the frogs, which in turn are fodder for the snakes ,who are hunted by eagles and when eagles fall dead on earth, the decomposed bodies are absorbed by the earth to provide nutrition to grass. Mention must be made of the very imaginative and creative choreography which blends in theatrical movements without compromising with Bharatnatyam grammar. Music score was by Kalamanini OS Arun and Jathis by Chennai Keshavam.
The last segment Akhandalaya celebrated rhythm or laya in music ,dance and nature,each of which convey life, hope and joy. An ode to the cosmic order of harmonious rhythm, which sustains the entire universe and is called Ritam in Vedas. Music was once again by Gopal Rao Pranandi.
Acharya Jayalakshimi Eshwar was accompanied by her versatile disciples Sakshi Anandam, Ananya Chatterjee,Sushmita Satyamoorthy, Nandita Nambiyar, Subashree Arvind, Pranati Garg, Aishwarya Shankar, Apurva Das, Saranya Harikrishnan and Swathi Arun.