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spirit of unity dance programmes for universal integration
Gone are the days when dancers and Gurus refused to share a single platform. It is considered that classical dances and music are the exclusive property of the rich and elite, resulting in the decline of response from the audience’s end. This situation in a way has unknowingly given a new life to these art forms. Various kinds of efforts to revive these arts are meticulously being put into use like thematic presentations, joint ventures by organisations, technical collaborations, combined workshops and Jugalbandis (culmination of various forms of dance and music on the same platform). Today, performances are designed and choreographed to provide a sumptuous feast for both the connoisseur and the common man.
In this context, thanks are due to The Madras Telugu Academy and Bharat Cultural Integration Committee for organising a three-day marathon dance extravaganza titled ‘The spirit of unity concerts for universal integration’. It definitely was the need of the hour and brought the art forms together. Organised at the Music Academy auditorium, Chennai, it evinced keen interest from the public. Each dancing team was offered 25 minutes to showcase their talent and most of the teams did full justice to the opportunity offered.
The show had a fine start on the 'Mangala Vadyam', Nagaswaram by T E Palaniswamy and party. Young choreographer Sheejit Krishna of the Kalakshetra Foundation was the first dance participant. He was followed by Usharani (Kuchipudi) and her team from Hyderabad. The presentation lost its colour due to poor quality of audio cassette.
Anita Guha and her team presented ‘Tathastu’, which stood as a testimony for devotion and dedication. Anita’s reverberating Nattuvangam and soulful singing boosted the quality of presentation. The performance of all the dancers was up to the mark. Still, Aishwarya and Medha Hari stood out for their perfect presentation. The lyrics and music were that of P R Venkatasubramanian.
Sharmila Biswas from Kolkata presented scintillating numbers like ‘Pallavi’ and ‘Rama Stuti’ in the Odissi style. It was a perfectly coordinated performance with excellent audio quality.
The pace of the day was well kept by Lakshmi Gururaj and her team from Udupi, who came next. She staged the ballet ‘Ashtalakshmi’ with her dedicated students who were technically perfect in handling the various poses of Goddess Lakshmi. The other participants for the day included Roja Kannan, Gopika Varma and Vidya Bhavani Suresh.
On day two, Revathi Ramachandran’s group presented a magnificently compiled piece on Krishna. It included interesting episodes such as ‘Kalinga Nartanam’. Instead of a new unknown composition, she chose to compile popular numbers like ‘Taaye Yasoda’. They also presented a unique item titled ‘Trinatha Natanam’ in praise of Siva, Sakti and Nandi.
Dressed like a damsel, Kala Krishnan presented ‘Bhama Kalapam’ in the unique Andhra style. Kirans, the renowned young dancing couple from Bangalore maintained the interest of the audience with their enticing theme ‘Parivartan’ a kaleidoscope of Bharatanatyam, folk dance, martial arts and creative movements. Melodious music and a exceptional description of the changes that occur in one’s life were heart throbbing.
Jayanthi Subramanian with her worthy disciples presented a thought-provoking show, which mirrored her years of experience and mastery over the techniques of group choreography. It had a very important massage in today's context - that every Hindu, Muslim and Christian should followed the core principles of their religions, namely, non-violence, equality and truth. The worthy accompanists include Roja Kannan (Nattuvangam), Radha Bhadri (Vocal), Nellai Kannan (Mridangam), Seetarama Sarma (Violin) and Ramana (Flute). The music scores were done by T N Krishna, Seetarama Sarma and S Rajeswari.
Sheela Mehta, the Kathak dancer from Mumbai gave an enticing presentation which included a pure Kathak piece comprising Aamad, Toda, Chakkradaar Paran and so on. The other numbers like ‘Hori’ were eloquent, subtle and accurate. It was a grand feast for all Kathak lovers in Chennai.
Parvati Ravi Ghantasala’s 'Annamayya' was the right concluding number for the second day. It was based on the history of Annamacharya, with music compilation by L Vaidyanathan and D Pasupati. Manjari Chandrasekhar and Swati Somnath were the other performers of the day.
The concluding day opened with a presentation by Urmila Satyanarayana followed by Durga Devi and team. The trio sisters with their students presented ‘Murali Nritya Madhuri’ based on the compositions of Dr. M Balamuralikrishna. A sense of aesthetics was perceived in the costumes too. The undiluted Kalakshetra style of dancing remained their forte. On the contrary, Beereshwar failed to cater to the expectations of the connoisseurs. Though gifted with a good voice, his concentration seemed to be focused on the cordless collar mike. Instead, he could have sat with the Tabla artiste to extend solid vocal support, leaving the stage free for other dancers on stage.
M V N Murthy presented a Tarana and a Yanni’s instrumental musical pattern in Kuchipudi which echoed universal integration through music and dance. Srekala Bharat presented ‘Jai Santoshi Ma’, elaborating on the importance of the Rakhi festival and the reason that led to the birth of Santoshi Mata. Though she presented it along with other free-lancers from Kalakshetra, she earned a very good name for it. The theme was the result of the vast research work on the subject by Kalpagam Srinivasamurthy. Subhasree (Nattuvangam), Chitrambari (Vocal), Saktivel (Mridangam) and Muruganandam (Violin) provided solid support.
Wonderful Mohiniattam presentation by Neena Prasad and her group from Trivandrum was a memorable experience for all the rasikas that day. The perfect coordination from the orchestral end made it more lively. The theme of eternal love was marvellously depicted.
Madhuvanthi Arun choreographed and presented the theme ‘Gayatri’ giving different interpretations for the Gayatri mantra. The other presentations included Bharatanatyam by Meenakshi Chittaranjan who was accompanied by Hari Prasad (Vocal), Akkarai Subbulakshmi (Violin), Saktivel (Mridangam) and Subbu (Keyboard). There was also a Kuchipudi presentation by Aruna Rekha Kothuri.
The 3-day extravaganza was not only memorable for its grandeur, but for two other reasons. Both professionals as well as the tiny ones stole the hearts of the audience. Doyens in the dance field like Udupi Laxminarayan, the Dhananjayans, K J Sarasa, M V Narasimhachari, Chitra Visweswaran, and several Sabha Secretaries were honoured for their great service to the art. It was definitely a wonderful achievement for the Madras Telugu Academy.
Lakshmi V N
Posted on 2nd November 2001