The folk dance recital of Kolatta Jothrai presented under the direction of Guru Rajee Narayan on Tuesday was a brave effort at reviving the Kolattam group of Tamil dances.

Traditionally, the Kolatta Jothrai festival is associated with the October/November harvesting season in Kartika. After sowing paddy, millet and red gram the women sing and dance for the next few days. The womenfolk dance kummis, kolattams and the pinal kolattam during the festival.

Rajee Narayan and her troupe remained true to the traditions in presentation, starting off with the pashu kolattam - a form of the kolattam dedicated to Kamadhenu the celestial cow of plenty. This dance with sticks was followed by a charitram kummi, abhinaya kolattam, a kummi with jatis (like Bharatanatyam), kuditta mar kolattam, with the pinals bringing up the rear.

Of the items in view, the pinal kolattams (pinals) were the best performed. Inspite of the intricacies of the braiding in this dance, which must be accompanied by rhythmic dancing with the kols (sticks), the girls displayed clarity and flawless rhythm. However, there was poor synchronisation in the payinda kolattam, which was the third item of the evening.

Inspite of their training in Bharat Natyam, the kummi with jatis showed some uncertainty in the classical movements.

An innovation of the kolattam, the Abhinaya kolattam combined small passages of abhinaya (classical expressive dancing) alternating with the kolattam stretches. The abhinaya part was very lively. Besides, the kolattams that traced tradition kolam-inspired linear patterns - varimara and kuditta mar - showed the kind of harmony in movement which is the hallmark of folk dance form.

Rina Mukherji
June 16, 1990. Indian Express

Guru Rajee Narayan's students performing the Pinnal Kolattam