Temple Traditions by Sweta Ravisankar
- Rubina Sudharman
e-mail: rubinasudharman@gmail.com
December 10, 2015

Sweta Ravisankar, a Bharatanatyam and nattuvangam artiste based in Portland, OR, has begun a unique classical dance journey across United States by performing Bharatanatyam for specific themes at different US locations, with a performance at Sri Venkateswara Temple, Bridgewater, NJ, on Nov 7, 2015 on the theme ‘Temple Traditions.’
Sweta took the audience for a tour of some beautiful temples in her presentation. Bharatanatyam, the classical dance form of South India, has roots extending back to the fifth century as evidenced by ancient sculptures found on temple walls. Considered a divine art, the dance was used as a sacred offering. Sweta’s representation of this format identified the theme Temple Traditions.
She started with a simple Mallari with some neat nritta movements and well defined theermanams. The beauty of welcoming the lord was much emphasized in her movements, followed by a Devi slokam. Her eyes sparkled as she described the goddess Shakti in all her glory. Aradhana, an invocation to welcome the lord in praise of Lord Rama, Krishna and Srinivasa was a revelation of her involvement in the dance to the smallest detail. 

Through distinctive modes of body language, gestures, costume and interpretation of rasas, Sweta invoked shringara and bhakti in her Ashtapadi.  Her repertoire puts dignity, grace and inwardness above all the exaggerated depictions which suggested of Radha’s longing to meet the lord. It bought out multiple expressions of love towards a single stretch of composition describing Krishna as both accessible yet infinite, intimate and cosmic. Sweta liberally sprinkled her emotions with the verses Oruthi Maganaay Pirandhu from ancient texts, Andal’s Thiruppavai, explaining the devotion to Lord Vishnu. She juggled the portrayal of Krishna from his birth to the savior of the land. 

It brought us to a climax with Athma Nivedhanam through an Abhang. Choreography which was rooted in traditional style had a sense of devotion and dedication. She evoked religious enthusiasm in her final composition of Abhang stamping her feet to a state of total surrender. While the focus was on the theme Temple Traditions, she could bring out the technical brilliance of Bharatanatyam with ease and élan.

Rubina Sudharman is a Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam dancer, teacher and writer. She has been performing and teaching dance in India, Singapore and USA since 1996.