Thrayee presents its first arangetram in Sydney 
- Sumi Krishnan, Sydney 
 
 
February 23, 2007 

 
The arangetram of Aparna Ramachandran took place at the Science Theatre of the University of NSW on the 17th of February 2007. 

Aparna Ramachandran, in her second year of medicine, is a very talented dancer and a student of the well known Trio sisters of India, one of whom is fortunately a Sydney resident, Gayatri Krishnamurthy. She is the founder director of the Thrayee School of Dance.

Aparna and her group of musicians gave a memorable, effortless performance. The well known and talented Sydney musicians who accompanied her were Subhashini Harinath on vocal, Sivasankar Santhanakrishnan on mridangam, Balaji Jagannadhan on violin and her teacher and guru Gayatri Krishnamurthy on nattuvangam.

The compering of the program was innovatively styled by Gayatri Krishnamurthy using a large screen projection demonstrating with clarity the various mudras for each section of the dance. These demonstrations helped the audience see Aparna weave the epic stories with ease and competence during the recital.   
   
Aparna received early training from Malathi Nagarajan. She later commenced tutelage under the guidance of Gayatri Krishnamurthy and has also had guidance from Radhika Shurajit and Shobana Bhalchandra, the other Trio Sisters on her trips to India. 

The selection of items for the dance performance was impressive. Aparnaís crisp rendition of the Mallari, Allaripu and Jathiswaram showed signs of her rigorous practice and able guidance. 

Aparna impressed her audience with her expressive and exuberant abhinaya. Abhinaya being a difficult art to conquer, it was interesting to see her depict the different stages of Lord Muruga as a child, then a toddler and later in his complete youthful glory. The Ragamalika Shabdam set to Misra Chappu Thalam, a composition of Semmanar Koil Shanmugham was a novelty to the Sydney audience. 

Using a term coined by the great Dhananjayans, the Varnam was called Nrityopaharam where one sees the union take place between Nritta (dance), Nritya (emotion) and Natya (drama). The Varnam depicted a devotee's love for Lord Krishna and his many pranks. 

Her strength in bhavam was seen once again in her dances of Bharathiyar Paadal "Solla Vallayo Kiliye," a romantic representation of a Nayika yearning for her lover Muruga, and "Vaada Vaada Kanna" showing the Vathsalya bhavam in her Padam. The concert concluded with a crisp Thillana and Omkara Karini, a composition of Dr Balamurali Krishna, choreographed to show the powerful Shakti.

The writer asked Gayatri Krishnamurthy, whether she had a special method to teach expression or bhavam to her students. 

"While teaching abhinaya, it is very important to make sure that the student understands the meaning of the song and the context of what is being told. Sometimes it is hard to convince them. I try to make them familiar with stories from our epics, which some of the students already know.  What I also try and do is to find parallel situations that they can relate to and are more familiar with. Try using their "words" to evoke a certain response from them. For example, if I wanted the adbutha rasa from them, I always tell them think 'awesome' or to get Bhibatsa (disgust), I tell them to think 'yuck.' I love my students and like to talk to them and build a friendly relationship with them. Some people have even criticised me and called me too lenient. But my philosophy is they should love and enjoy this great art as much as I love it. When they start to love the art, and their teacher they will want to perfect it and then the learning progresses quickly," replied Gayatri.

Keertana Avalur, a nine year old student of Bharatanatyam, who has reached Jathiswaram said, "I liked her stiff mudras and expression, I also liked her acting out of Yashoda and Krishna, how Krishna opens his mouth and everyone sees the universe." When asked what she may have done differently, little Keertana says that she would have come on the stage to thank people instead of talking from behind a curtain.

Shruthi Sharma, another dance student liked the way there were no long announcements and everyone just got on with the dance. "I liked all the accompanying artists. I think that the musical support provided by them enhanced the dancerís and the viewer's experience."  

While the projections on the screen were a creative idea and worked well, the writer's view is that more effective use of the lighting on stage may have transformed this performance into a shade more dramatic and given it the lift that Aparna truly deserved. 

Aparna Ramachandran's sincere and succinct dance recital gave the audience a glimpse of the potential and immense promise already showing in this young dancer. No doubt it will blossom into fruition with greater experience, exposure and continued expert teachings from Gayatri Krishnamurthy.