Foundation day celebrations of Upaasana Academy
- Chandra Anand

October 23, 2015

Upaasana Academy of Classical Dance and Music completed 40 years on Oct 2, 2015. At the New SNDT Auditorium, Mumbai, that day was celebrated by the staff and students of the school, headed by its founder director Guru Jayashree Nair. ‘Upaasana’ means unflinching devotion and proximity to the divine. And through dance, the guru and shishyas endeavor to practice this. Upaasana Academy imparts training in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Carnatic music at various centers in and around Chembur.

Forty years ago, on a Vijayadasami day, Jayashree started teaching Bharatanatyam independently, with the support of her gurus, especially Guru Gopinathan Nair, her Kathakali teacher.  She is proficient in Bharathanatyam Mohiniattam and Kathakali. Coincidently, that day in 1976, happened to be Oct 2, Gandhi Jayanti.  So, every year the foundation day is celebrated on the birthday of the Father of our Nation.

A close knit ambience of the auditorium was noticed, as all the celebrities being invited were the locally eminent persons, known to all the parents and students present. They added grandeur to the celebrations that started with the lighting of the lamp by them. It was a great honor and delight to have centenarian Miss. Kamalam, the school teacher of Jayashree Nair (alumni of SIWS school, Wadala, Mumbai) to start off the event by lighting the lamp first.

The school presented a dance drama ‘Glimpses of Krishna.’ After the initial namaskar, the show started with the students reciting shlokas. Next, all the participants performed a few adavus, the young ones presented alarippu and kavuthvam and the seniors presented a pushpanjali. After this warm up, the students presented the dance drama.  The life of Krishna was brought through narrative of the events from his birth to gita upadesha. At all stages of the life depiction, the artist to play Krishna was aptly chosen. The performance held the audience’s rapt attention without letting itself sag at any point of the presentation.

All grades of the dance school were given opportunity to take part in the dance drama. The length of the presentation was just right. The stories were all crisp, short and sweet.  The presentation was visually appealing which is the hallmark of Jayashree’s choreography. The beautiful way the space was sculpted with different formations in the pushpanjali and rasleela, was a treat to the eyes.

Jayashree Nair is one of the leading dance teachers in Mumbai grooming her students in both Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam. The result of her training was there for everyone to clearly see. The children performed with grace and élan. The classicism and traditionalism that permeated through her presentation definitely reflects the values that she has imbibed from her teachers, all of them doyens in their respective fields of dance form.

Along with the art of dancing, Jayashree also has been striving to inculcate the finer aspects of Indian culture, like a sense of devotion and prayer, respect for elders, love and affection towards fellow beings and above all, a feeling of oneness among the peer group. She is now being helped by her daughter and student, Sujatha Sanjay Nair, in all her endeavours.

Chandra Anand is a Bharatanatyam artiste and teacher. A student of Sri Rajarajeshwari Bharatanatya Kalamandir since 1972, she is presently training under guru Lata Raman.