Yakshagana is many splendoured!

You would agree if you had been at the performance of Vaali Moksha during the Dance Festival at the Music Academy on January 7.

Yakshagana as a dance drama has stood the test of time even as it coexists with other art forms across different countries, cultures, languages and rapid innovations.

How else would a 500 year old art form that originated in the village of Idigunji in coastal Karnataka still have charisma and a pride of place in the world of art in India and abroad?

Idigunji Mahaganapati Yakshagana Mandali dates back to 1934. Shivananda Hegde is a fifth generation Yakshagana artiste who heads the Keremane Shivananda group.

The secret is simple narration and powerful presentation, eye catching costumes, without losing out on the finesse of impromptu delivery or the language, Kannada. Deftly packed into the limited performance time it is a theatre goer’s delight. The Yakshagana training centre, Sri Ranga Yakshagana Shikshina Kendra in the village guides the artistes.

The narration is simple to follow even if one does not know Kannada as the story from the Ramayana is well known to Indians and the acting, gestures and presentation make for a full experience.

The narration is done by the singer (bhagavatharu) whose abilities to take the story forward. are mind boggling His voice traverses all pitches and voice modulations, full throated singing, soft utterances or raga to embellish the ethos. It leaves you amazed at the limits to which vocal abilities can enliven a performance and give it a unique character. He is accompanied by a Maddala player and s Chande player.

They are born artistes to whom performance is second nature without any hi fi conservatory or training to polish it.

Kudos to the Music Academy for showcasing art forms that are rare. It brings to mind their presentation of Don Quixote in Kathakali last year. A splendid example of art from centuries gone by from a different country brought to life in an Indian ethos even as it retains its Spanish connection.

Art, be it in any form is cohesive and is of even more relevance in our strife torn world of today.