Mātā: a novel initiative by Kalasagara UK
Photo: Jeyakumaran Kandiah

March 29, 2015

The shows choreographed and presented by Usha Raghavan, the Director of Kalasagara UK, are generally infused with a layer of unique perspective to help engage the global audience. This time it was a celebration of Mother’s Day titled ‘Mātā’ presented under the banner of Kalasagara UK on March 15 at Patidar House, Wembley. Usha’s senior and junior students (who are mothers and their daughters) gave a classical Bharatanatyam performance in a margam format. The show was conceived to honour and celebrate mothers, motherhood and the influence of mothers in society and was hailed for its novelty by the Deputy Director of the Nehru Centre, London, Vibha Mehdiretta.

As a brief introduction, Usha spoke about her mother who was a great inspiration for her. It was significant to note that though she herself was dissuaded from performing in public in the ‘50s, a working woman with great vision and will power, Usha’s mother successfully established Kalasagara, the academy of fine arts in Chennai in 1972. This introduction set the mood for what was to follow.

The dance performance started with the invocatory Thodayamangalam. It was interesting to see the daughters and mothers dancing alongside each other in the following slokam, keerthanam and padam. The compositions had been cleverly chosen to suit the level of the young daughters and at the same time interesting enough for the mothers to show their individuality. Some were duets and some were performed only by the mothers themselves. Notable among them was the Ramayanam performed by the mother and her two daughters taking different roles. Kudos for the choreography; the interesting formations in the korvais in Thillana deserve a special mention. The young dancer who danced alongside five other mothers, all experienced dancers, almost as if she was challenging them all exuded confidence. All senior dancers – Meena Rajagopalan, Janani Ahilan, Valarmathy Satheeskaran, Aruna Apte, Shloka Maradani, Malar Linkeswaran, Purnima Chandrasekhar and their daughters Ritu, Sitara, Anjelli, Lakshmi and Dheekshna Mathangi gave a scintillating team performance.

One of the reasons behind this performance was Usha having performed extensively with her own daughter as a mother-daughter duo. She was keen that her students also enjoyed the pleasure of giving a similar performance on Mother’s Day. And you could sense the sheer joy and pride in the eyes, especially of the dancing mothers. What added flavour to the show was the brief speech given by the mothers about their experiences. Between each composition, the dancer- mothers were invited to share their joy as well as the practical problems in pursuing this art form in a foreign land. It was very interesting as each one spoke from her heart and shared from her perspective what resuming dance after many years meant to her. Each dancer who performed on the day with her daughter was a professional working woman, facing the demands of family life every day. They especially mentioned how their guru Usha Raghavan inspires and motivates them, demonstrating how important the guru sishya relationship is in giving them the confidence and determination to go further in the joyful pursuit of Bharatanatyam.

Ms. Mehdiretta congratulated the dancers and Usha Raghavan and has invited the team to perform at the Nehru Centre, London.