Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi entertain Bay Area rasikas
- Jyotsna Vaideeswaran
February 14, 2013
Over the years Yuva Bharati has grown to become a premier platform for classical Indian dance in the San Francisco Bay Area. On Feb 2, 2013, it presented three young artistes Sweta Ravishankar, Ganesh Vasudeva and Tejaswi Kondapalli. The concert was kept fresh and exciting by interweaving male and female artiste s as well as the different styles of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. One other wonderful addition to Yuva Bharati performances has been the use of live orchestra elevating the concert experience for both the artiste and the rasika.

Sweta has studied Bharatanatyam under Guru Padmini Radhakrishnan and continues to pursue her passion for dance under Roja Kannan. Sweta opened the performance with a Mallari followed by the popular kriti Aadi Kondar, describing Lord Shiva’s dance in Chidambaram. The choreography by Padmini Radhakrishnan beautifully brought out the rhythmic dance of Lord Nataraja by weaving in jathi patterns and the pancha nadai in the charanam “Ara navamani malaigalaada...” Sweta also presented another famous composition “Thaka Thaka,” a composition of Subramanya Bharathi. She held striking poses of Goddess Shakti and true to the essence of Divine Energy executed the piece with strong and fast paced footwork. Sweta also presented an abhinaya piece “Netrandhi Nerathilae” portraying a vipralabdha nayika who has been deceived by her loved one and a Marathi abhang which was a nice touch and symbolic of her training in Mumbai.

The other artist of the evening was Ganesh Vasudeva. Ganesh performed a Purandara Dasar keerthanam that describes Krishna’s dance on the giant serpent Kaliya. The choreography cleverly brought out the interplay between the playful dance of Lord Krishna with the aggressive dance of Kaliya. Next, he presented a varnam (only the poorvarangam or first half in the interest of time) composed by Madurai Muralidharan, describing Goddess Meenakshi as the compassionate feminine one, and contrasting that with her strong, fierce side as the killer of the demon Mahishasura. Ganesh performed the trikala jathi which had challenging mandi adavus with complete control over his movements as well as layam. The pure dance movements used motifs of the Devi. The varnam was further enriched by Ganesh’s excellent abhinayam which brought out the compassionate and fierce side of Devi while maintaining sringaram as the sthayi bhavam. He completely drew the audience in during the Mahishasura Mardana scene which was powerful and succinct. He also performed a male oriented javali. Ganesh came off as a mature artiste presenting his own choreography with elan.

The Kuchipudi artist of the evening was Teja Kondapalli. Teja began her part of the recital with a lively Ganesha Kauthuvam in praise of Lord Ganesha describing him as the one with an elephant face, a broad stomach and his broken tusk. She executed the nritta passages gracefully. It was very interesting to see the classic Kuchipudi style as Teja mouthed the lyrics in sync with the singer. She also performed the evergreen Shiva stuthi “Shankara Srigiri” which is popular in both Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi styles. The opening shloka was sung with bhava by the singer Snigdha and performed with bhakti by Teja. She then performed the classic Tarangam taken from the Krishna Leela Tarangini. Teja’s nice use of vatsalya bhavam brought alive the scene of mother Yashoda getting little Krishna ready to go herd the cows. Through the entire story leading up to the killing of the demon snake she remained involved in her abhinayam and maintained the audience interest. Finally, she enthralled the audience with the dance on the brass plates and then adding the pot (which had water in it) on her head. One could see the passion she has for the art.

The concert concluded with a thillana that was a collaboration of the three artistes. The entire concert was well supported by the live orchestra which had experienced guru Jayanthi Sridharan on nattuvangam, Snigdha Venkatramani on vocal, Suriya Subramanian on mridangam, Susheela Narasimhan on violin and Ashwin Krishnakumar on the flute. With each artiste presenting several items and a long intermission, the concert does tend to become quite long, so care can be taken to maintain a certain duration. It was an entertaining concert and Yuva Bharati succeeded in living up to the expectations of the Bay Area rasikas. 

Bharatanatyam dancer Jyotsna Vaideeswaran is a disciple of the Kunhiramans in USA, Guru C V Chandrasekhar and Bragha Bessell in Chennai. She has performed solo as well as with various dance companies. She teaches in the Bay area.