Soorya Bangalore Chapter and Ananya Festival
- Satish Suri, Bangalore

September 25, 2011

Rama Vaidyanathan
The downpour outside did not dampen the exuberance inside the Seva Sadan Auditorium  with the noted danseuse Rama Vaidyanathan setting the tone with a high intensity solo Bharatanatyam  recital to inaugurate the Soorya Ananya festival in Bangalore on 15th Sept.

Starting the performance with an alarippu, “sannidhanam” in which the dancer explores through bodily movements, the architecture, precision, symmetry and beauty of a temple, the decorated entrance, the four doors representing the four faces of creation, the Dwaja stambha, the prakaram and finally one enters the sanctum sanctorum or abode of the Goddess, culminating with the Bija Mantram from the Devi Mahatmyam.
The central piece of her performance was a rare varnam from the descendants of the Tanjore Quartet  composed by Vadivelu and addresses Lord Padmanabha. The nayika says, “I see you, I hear you, I feel you, but you are not to be seen. My belief has grown by leaps and bounds. Don’t play these games. You are my Prananatha, you are the introducer of Kama to this world. Oh Prananatha, come satisfy my longing and yearning for you.” The varnam in Reethigowla raga set to adi talam gave the artiste the freedom to display her virtuosity and skill. The exuberance of Karaikudi Siva on the nattuvangam and Arun Kumar on the mridangam set up a frenetic tempo to an extent that the artist momentarily missed a step in rhythm as she went through the rhythmic sequences with consummate ease. The vocal support by Indu Nair and Viju Shivanand on the violin however did not come up to the expectation of this wonderful composition. The poetic splendour of her abhinaya came into play in the next piece where the nayika fantasizes about her Lord Shiva. “Won’t he give a glance? What if he comes and stands by my doorstep? What if Lord Shiva comes and whispers sweet nothings to her?” This composition was in ragam Khamas and roopaka talam.

The next was a composition of Papanasam Sivan in ragam Kapi set to adi talam. Here, Yashodha is being asked, “What kind of penance did you do to get this good fortune to make the Parabrahman call you Amma. You cajoled Him, fed Him, sang Him a Lullaby.” The last item of her program was Raas Leela by Surdas where the gopikas are enchanted by the flute, finally ending with a hymn of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which says Krishna never left Brindavan, “Vrindavanam parityajya padam ekam na gaccheth.” The music for this piece was composed by GS Rajan and the jathis by Karaikudi Siva. Rama Vaidyanathan’s immaculate performance was marked by flowing elegance and delicate movements that came to life. Sai Venkatesh on the lights added a touch of glamour to this vibrant performance.

Savitha Sastry
Savitha Sastry, a student of Guru Mahalingam Pillai of the Raja Rajeshwari Dance academy in Mumbai and presently under the tutelage of the Dhananjayans and Adyar K Lakshman in Chennai, gave a solo  Bharatanatyam performance on 17th September.  Savitha began her dance recital with an excerpt from Siva Thandava Stothram. It extols the many virtues of Lord Shiva, the one who holds the Ganges on his head; the consort of Parvati; the slayer of demons and the one who wields the damru. This was well choreographed and executed with a great deal of finesse and virtuosity.

The varnam, a composition of Rajkumar Bharati, addresses the eternal lover Krishna. The nayika asks, “Do you still consider me as a young child whom you played with? Bhakti is infinite love. Come to me, Oh Lord.” The number “Indrakilum Puriyaada” in Ragamalika was set to adi tala. Savitha endowed with a graceful personality, brought alive the subtle nuances with nimble footwork and evocative expressions, a perfect sense of line and geometry. The soulful voice of Krithika Aravind enriched this performance by her depth and control and lyrical content.

The next piece was a Marathi abhang. The arguments of the lovers Radha and Krishna has disturbed all of Gokulam. All activity had come to a standstill. Who will speak first? Who will resolve this? Her abhinaya skills in delineating this piece were clearly evident in the anguish expressed by the nayika, caused by Lord Krishna’s attitude. “Rusali Radha Rusala Madhava Rusale Gokula Saarey” was beautifully presented by Savitha.  The next piece was a padam, a composition of Dr. Balamuralikrishna. This delicately describes the nuances of the one to one conversation with Lord Krishna. Radha accuses the lord of betraying her trust. She says she will be the laughing stock if He decides to leave her, in “Ennadaina vintina” in ragam Murali and set to misrachapu tala. There was an underlying note of harmony in this piece with excellent movements.

Savitha concluded her program with a tillana composed by Meera Nathan in Sumanesa Ranjani raga set to adi tala. This was followed by a tatwam, an offering to the lord. The philosophy behind this tatwam is that God pervades everything, like in the water there are fishes and frogs - “Emi sedura linga” a salutation to the Mahanubhava Mahadeva Shambho Lingamurthy. Savitha’s performance was a blend of harmony and elegance and the accomplishment of a dedicated artist.

The accompanying music ensemble with Krithika Aravind (vocal), Anil Kumar (mridangam), Renjith Babu (nattuvangam) and Madhusudhan (violin) greatly enriched the performance and Krithika with her mellifluous voice stole the honours. Sai Venkatesh on the lights set the tone and mood with his creative lighting.

Midhilalaya Dance Academy
Midhilalaya Dance Academy, Thiruvananthapuram, presented ‘Pibare Ramamarasam’ based on ‘Eka Sloka Ramayana’ on 18th September, the fourth day of the Soorya Ananya Festival. The piece choreographed by V Mydhili was like a roller coaster ride as the narrative went on to describe the incredible qualities of Rama starting from the Swayamwara  representing his gallantry, an obedient son when he fulfils Kaikeyi’s wish, a caring husband, spending cheerful moments in Panchavati, as the supreme lord when he gives moksha to Jatayu, a generous and kind being when he accepts Sabari’s offering, a faithful friend when he gives  a helping hand to Sugreeva, an affectionate brother when he is concerned about Lakshmana, a dutiful king when he  persuades Sita to do Agnipravesha, as a comrade when he embraces Hanuman, leading finally to the Pattabhishekam.

Encaspulated  with the sloka with vocal inputs forming the fulcrum of this presentation and accompanied by a breezy inspiring background score by Attukal  Balasubramaniam, the story was enacted by Sanjana, Deepthi, Uma, Anju, Akshata, Ammu and Gayathri, who played their roles to perfection.
The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble calibrate themselves to a high degree of perfection through dedication, discipline and commitment to perfection of this art form. They definitely did more than justice to this in their presentation at Seva Sadan on the 19th Sept as part of the Soorya Ananya Festival. Opening their performance with a prayer to Sridevi, the divine mother, “Hari Giri Nandini” - Salutations to you, the Mother, the Supreme Power - and performed by Surupa Sen, Bijayini Satpathy and Pavitra Reddy set in motion the sculptural and statuesque poses which Odissi embodies. The trio displayed vigour and force of abhinaya as they explored the various facets of the divine Mother ending with a final aarathi to her.

Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
Basant Ritu was the next piece performed about the abstract vocabulary associated with the season. The next were two poems of Jayadeva. The sensual and erotic vocabulary of Jayadeva seems singularly suited to Odissi which bristles with grace and sensuality of body movements particular to this form of dancing. The sakhi is being addressed to go fetch the one who fought the demon Keshi and redeemed him. “Sakhi he keshi madana mudharam” was performed by Surupa and Bijayini.

The second poem “Kisalaya sayanathale” is about the love of Radha and Krishna.  O Radha, there is but this moment; fill me with love. The emotive prowess of the artists came into full play with a high degree of artistry and aesthetics dominating the presentation. The artists concluded with Vibhakt, the One Splits into Two enshrining the cardinal principle of Ardhanareeswara. Immaculately performed by Surupa and Bijayini with extraordinary synchronization and sense of timing, the piece goes on to describe Shiva telling about his consort Parvati. She with long tresses and he with matted locks; She bedecked with  jewellery and He with glistening snakes; She dressed in radiant silks and He with only the sky as his garment. This piece explored through the poem of a devotee “Om Namah Shivaya Shivaya Namaha” displayed masterly precision of movements with the visual glamour provided by well coordinated lighting by Lynne Fernandes. The music for the entire program was on a recorded track.

Satish Suri has been an ardent follower of dance and music for more than 40 years, starting with being on  the committee of the International Music and Arts Society founded by Vijaya Devi, sister of the Late Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar and now presently is treasurer of World Dance Alliance Karnataka Chapter. He has presented several artists, both dancers and musicians, over the last 40 years.