Shakti Dance presented Meera as homage to Lakshmi Shankar
- Prem Souri Kishore
Pics: Surendra Prakash
October 14, 2014
A moving tribute video to Lakshmi Shankar, the internationally acclaimed North Indian classical vocalist of Patiala gharana who recently passed away at the age of 87, ushered in the mesmerizing dance production of Meera, a Shakti School of Dance production to a rapt audience in James Armstrong Theater, Los Angeles.
Guru Viji Prakash, the innovative choreographer and teacher of Bharatanatyam in Los Angeles for 37 years, co-produced Meera with daughter Mythili Prakash who is recognized as one of the leading exponents of Bharatanatyam. Mythili is under the mentorship of the celebrated Malavika Sarukkai. The mother and daughter united to bring the story of the sublime songstress by showcasing the haunting story and drawing on the rich heritage of Meera’s bhajans. Choreographer Mythili used space, dance, rhythm, gorgeous harmonies and drama with extraordinary instinct and made it a seamless, searching exploration of the single minded devotion of Meera.
The story of Meera both clarified and complicated with classical and folk dances in constant dialogue giving texture to the story. Mythili redefined the possibilities of dance and theater. Innovative casting, flawless direction charted the epic journey of Meera, capturing an elegiac exploration of a passionate young Rajasthani woman from a royal family who rebelled against tradition and became an inspired poetess. Mythili imaginatively conceived the powerful presentation of Meera and Krishna through different stages in their lives by using dancers who gave compelling performances. The final scene where Meera attains union with her divine Krishna was moving.
The singers and musicians were the focus of attention at all times where the melodic line was drawn through diverse styles of Carnatic, Hindustani and Rajasthani folk ballads. The music of Lakshmi Shankar, Shubho Shankar and Janhavi Jayprakash stirred the senses and resonated the bhakti movement. Almost 1300 bhajans are attributed to Meera. The ensemble collaborating with Viji and Mythili selected simple outpourings of a heart dedicated to Krishna. Explicit, rhythmic, suggestive and often times a bold statement portraying and framing the introspective mind and being of a woman who was filled with an intense reverence for her God.
The musicians were Vaijayanthi Gopinath, Samar Das, Vanathy Raghuraman, Dayita Datta, Mahesh Swamy, Lingaraju, Krishna Kumar and Venkatesh Krishnan. A rich array of glittering costumes, melodious music, and the drama of folk and classical dances brought the characters alive. The Garba dance was choreographed by Aakansha Maheshwari who made it a feisty, explosive burst of whirling, swirl of color and flash of movement.
Uma Kadekodi as Meera expressively embodied the devotee. Malini Taneja as the young prince Rana Bhoj and brother Ranan Vikramjit and Kirti Rao as Krishna were riveting and as the suspicious sister-in-law Uda Bai, Malini Iyer gave a compelling portrayal. Roshni Badlani and Janani Kalyan danced the roles of the young Meera with grace and devotion.