- Arun Madangarli, Atlanta
July 15, 2011
In line with tradition, the program started with the traditional invocatory piece, albeit with a difference; in the place of the customary kouthuvam, the invocation took the form of the Shiva Panchakshara Stotra, said to be authored by the great philosopher Adi Shankara. In this stotra, each of the five syllables that comprise the popular shaiva mantra from the ‘Krishna Yajurveda,’ na-ma-shi-va-ya, is expounded upon to delineate a different attribute of Shiva, the cosmic dancer. Set to music by the late Kadayanallur Venkataraman, this piece was performed with exquisite grace by the senior students of Nritya Sankalpa. The Stotra was followed by Nritta Arpanam, a piece that was pure nritta; an abstract presentation where the rhythms and phrases of the music (composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman for the movie ‘Sringaram’) were translated into beautiful patterns of the body, creating mesmerizing lines in space and time.
Three pieces followed Nritta Arpanam. The first of these, Unaroo Bharatame, was a semi-classical piece in Malayalam that extolled both the elegant and refined classical arts as well as the vibrant and colorful folk arts of Kerala, within the larger tapestry of the Indian cultural heritage. This was followed by Acham Acham Illai, the legendary song of emancipation from the pen of the great poet-philosopher Subramania Bharati. The younger dancers of Nritya Sankalpa captivated the audience with a lovely adaptation of this enchanting piece, with its music from the soundtrack of the movie ‘Indira.’ The last piece in this segment was a unique interpretation of what constitutes the id – that inaccessible part of our personality which is dominated by instincts and emotions. Titled Vyaktitva, this piece explored the different emotions that make up the human entity, both in isolation and in totality. This piece was noteworthy for another reason; it was conceptualized, choreographed, and performed entirely by the senior students of Nritya Sankalpa.
The proceeds from this performance under the aegis of the Sankalpa Foundation were to benefit the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The program was an immense success both from an aesthetic point of view as well as a material one and Savitha and the students of Nritya Sankalpa can be proud of providing an evening of enriching aesthetic experience.
Arun Madangarli is a control engineer based in Atlanta, Georgia, and interested in all facets of Indian classical arts.