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Alarmel Valli's dance recital - a pristine beauty
Padma Bhushan Alarmel Valli performed at the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan for Karthik Fine Arts on the evening of December 25, 2008.

She began her recital with an invocation to Adithya - the Sun God. The piece was a compilation of verses from Kamba Ramayanam, Subhashitha Rathna Bhandaakaram and Adithya kavacham. In this piece, she beautifully depicted the story of how Adithi gave birth to the Sun God. The invocatory piece was followed by the famous "Mohamaana En Meethu" pada varnam by the Tanjore Quarter in Bhairavi Raagam and Adi thaalam. Valli offered the piece as a tribute to her Guru Pandanallur Chockalingam Pillai, who passed away recently. As a nayika yearning with devotion for a sensuous union with the Lord Shiva himself, Valli held the audience spell-bound. The Sanchari in which she described the grand procession of Lord Shiva led by drummers, musicians and dancers was very descriptive. Every time the saranam was repeated, Valli came on her toes and demonstrated her spring-footedness that won instant applause from the audience. There couldn't have been a better tribute to a Guru.

Next, Valli presented a few pieces from the Sangam poetry set to music by Prema Ramamurthy. In the first song, she played a girl who is on the verge of adolescence. The girl is unable to understand the new feelings that arise within her. The girl's childhood friend (a boy), who the girl considered a pain in the neck because of his mischievous activities, suddenly seemed handsome and charming to her. The girl recalls their childhood days and his pranks. The poem ends abruptly, leaving the rest to the imagination of the audience. The next item was a poetry piece from Kurundhogai in which the Nayika is sorrowed and anguished because of being desolated by her lover. Valli thoughtfully used a metaphor of a cold stormy night to describe the mood of the heroine. Later, the lover returns and she refuses to accept him. In both these pieces Valli displayed her prowess in abhinaya that she had gained over the years. Her aangikka abhinaya (to depict a sand castle, buffalo, etc.) gave the pieces a mark of perfection. She concluded the performance with an energetic nritta compostion in Abhogi ragam.

Valli is one of the few dancers who still present the Pandanallur paani with its pristine beauty, as she learnt it from her Gurus. The Nritta passages did not have very tough adavus or complex postures. They were simple yet effective. Her choice of items was very mature and revealed her interest in literary compositions. Mr.C.K. Vaudevan on the Nattuvaangam, Latha Ramachandran on the vocals, sakthivel Muruganandam on the Mridangam, Ranjani Arun on the Vioin and Sunil Kumar on the flute provided excellent support to Valli. The whole program was a delightful Christmas gift to the audience.