Dazzling display of Bharatnatyam dances

bharat 1-webCHICAGO, IL: Traditional Bharatnatyam repertoire is called Margam or journey. The dancers of Bharatam Academy of Dance took the audience on this delightful journey with a dazzling display of Bharatnatyam dances ranging from beginners to those of the highest professional caliber. The occasion was “Bharatam Dance Showcase 2013” at the Oswego East High School auditorium on March 23.
In her introductory remarks, Guru Vanitha observed that the art of Bharatnatyam is a rich continuum and living tradition of South India. It was apparent to any spectator that more than the students going through the art, the art had gone through the students, who graced the stage with poise and delight, displaying these rich traditions here in the USA. The emcee for the evening, Ranjani Rajan, welcomed the audience and introduced each of the dances with a brief description along with classical notations for the song that accompanied the dance.
The program began with Nritta Anjali, a prayer and offering with pure classical dance elements, set to Adi Talam. After that, dancers in different age groups rendered different compositions, with each item progressing in the order of difficulty and skill level involved. Arambham, performed by young learners ranging in age from six to eight years old who had completed a little over one year of training in the academy, was a demonstration of the basics with the different adavu, set to solkattu or rhythmic intonations, which is the language of Bharatnatyam.
It was followed by Alarippu, a progression in dance movement and complexity, which set the stage for more traditional story lines that drew their inspiration from Hindu mythology.
Lord Krishna’s feat of lifting the Govardhana Mountain was personified in Govardhana Giridhari, while the joyous dance of Ganesha was depicted in Nartana Ganapatim. Narayana Mantram was in praise of Lord Narayana, and Andal Kauttuvam was for his bride Andal.
These dances showcased the progression of the young learners into more experienced dancers. The patience exhibited by all the performers required for dressing in traditional clothes and dance jewellery was remarkable. They were poised and danced with the confidence that reflected the sound training they received.
Jatiswaram is a composition set to jati – the rhythmic syllables, and swara – the melodious notes. True to the composition, the beautiful footwork enthralled the audience. It was followed by Panchamurthy Anjali, an ode to five deities, performed by the group of inspired moms, who started taking Bharatnatyam lessons from Vanitha following their daughter’s footsteps. Sutikshna Veeravalli joined the dancers in rendering Anjaneya in a memorable performance.
Kavya Pai, a recent Bharatam graduate, then presented a part from her Arangetram performance in Alarulu Kuriyaga, a dainty piece on Goddess Padmavati. Govindan Kuzhalosai highlighted the enchanting music of Krishna’s flute, and Lalitambikam dedicated to Devi was a product of the summer workshop conducted by Bharatam. It was followed by Shankara Srigiri performed in praise of Lord Shiva. The dance outfits and the augmenting colors meticulously chosen to match the moods of the songs made it a treat to watch.
The senior dancers of Bharatam presented a beautiful choreography on the theme of energy conservation, entitled ‘Nature: The Bountiful.’ It was followed by an equally energetic Tillana in Poornachandrika Ragam, incorporating complex rhythmic patterns and statuesque postures. This in praise of Lord Vishnu, composed in Telugu language that reiterated the confidence and reflected the sound training the students received.
The grand finale was a special production on the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu – Dashavataram. Based on a composition by poet saint Jayadeva, the Sanskrit lyrics were set to beautiful traditional music and performed by 24 dancers as a medley that captivated everyone.
Finally, the entire Bharatam community of over 100 students and guru Vanitha assembled as one on the stage and rendered an awe inspiring Mangalam – a synchronized salutation to Nataraja, the presiding “Lord of Dance” for taking them through the evening.
Guru Vanitha Veeravalli was honored with Master Artiste Award by the State of Illinois and also with the Acharya Kala Vipanchee award by Padmavibhushan Dr M Balamuralikrishna.

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