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Elegant & imaginative classical dance Anand

December 16
02:58 2011

CHICAGO: Samskriti Foundation headed by dancer Shoba Natarajan, recently presented a delightful recital titled “Ananda – new and vintage choreography in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi”, at the Centerstage Theater, Naperville, a southwest Chicago suburb.
The ensemble consisted of Shoba Natarajan, Anjali Nandan, Jalaja Hemanth, Janaki Nair, Lakshmi Thirumani, Sailaja Kambhammettu, Srilekha Sama, Swetha Vijayaraghavan and Vinod Menon.
The first item for the evening was a Mallari and Alarippu in Bharatanatyam. The brochure read: “Rhythmic exploration of ritual processional music flows into a unique exploration of a traditional element of the repertoire”, which was exactly what it was. The four Bharatanatyam dancers did a fine job with the various adavus and formations and though the music was the same for a good portion of this item, with rhythmic variations, the dance consisted of constantly changing patterns. The flow into Alarippu was seamless and the Alarippu was itself was very different from the usual ones I have seen.
The second item was “Gayiye Ganapathi” in Kuchipudi style. Here the four Kuchipudi dancers did a fine job with typical Kuchipudi adavus and movement and the program got off to a great start, with these two items in the two different styles.
The third item for the evening was a varnam in Bharatanatyam style. Varnam is typically the central piece in a traditional Bharatanatyam presentation and has segments of both abhinaya and nritta. This one had two dancers present it (Shoba and Vinod) and what was unusual about it was that it depicted two different approaches. Many of songs presented by Bharatanatyam dancers are of an inner feeling of devotion (anthar bhakthi) and an outer feeling of love (bahir shringaara). I found this approach interesting and riveting. Both dancers seemed experienced and made the intense abhinaya and the intricate nritta look very easy.
After this came the “Shivashtakam” by Kuchipudi. This consists of 8 couplets in praise of Lord Shiva. Like the first item in Bharatanatyam, this item too had musical notes that were repetitive (though with sahitya in Sanskrit), but the choreography was brisk and thoughtfully done. In particular, I liked the portion where one dancer (Shoba) was doing the abhinaya as if she was playing one percussion instrument after the other, while the other dancers did the jathis.
The fifth item was a thillana in Bharatanatyam. This was in the popular raga Kapi and again, Shoba’s skill as a choreographer shone through with lots of beautiful nritta patterns.
The penultimate item for the evening was a dhrupad in Kuchipudi in raga Purvi. When this was announced, my interest was piqued as I had not seen dance version of this musical composition. Kuchipudi style was totally suited to this and the audience were treated to wonderful nritta combinations.
The last piece was “Nostalgia” (music by Yanni) in Kuchipudi style. With only music and no words and no set rhythmic patterns commonly found in Indian compositions, the item opened up lots of possibilities. The dancers portrayed a lovely garden and rounded it off with joyful dancing.
The entire recital was elegant, imaginative and refreshing.
Anu Samrat

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