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A coming together of creative energies
- Meera Krishna

September 6, 2017

Arpan's presentation of a Bharatanatyam performance by Devanshi Pandya, a disciple of Dr. Joyce Paul Siamak, was an aesthetically uplifting experience. A unique highlight of this presentation was Joyce's collaboration with musicians in the Seattle area to create music off the beaten track for Bharatanatyam, for three new works - a Sarasvati Vandana, an ashtapadi from the Geeta Govinda by Jayadeva featuring a regretful Krishna, and vignettes from the life of Mother Teresa.

Multi-talented Shahana Dattagupta composed and sang the invocation piece on Sarasvati in her soulful voice that set the tone for the evening. Joyce's choreography preserved the deeply meditative energy of the piece with sculpturesque poses and unhurried movement that Devanshi performed with sincere devotion.

For the ashtapadi "Mamiyam chalita vilokhya", Joyce worked with multiple artistes to create her vision. The meaning of the Sanskrit lyrics was explored in depth with Dr. Ramesh Gangolli. Well-known Hindustani classical vocalist, Srivani Jade, set the lyrics to music and Yogesh Ratnaparkhi performed it in his sonorous baritone. Joyce's choreography ensured that the music and dance blended together emotionally and visually, while Devanshi brought her Guru's vision to life both in movement and intent. Krishna's anguish at Radha walking away angry upon seeing him in the company of the other gopis was expressed beautifully.

The piece about Mother Teresa involved the use of multiple media in the presentation - the spoken word via a recitation of the storyline by Joyce, pictures from the Mother's life mounted on easels to provide a fitting backdrop, Gregorian chants by performer and voice coach Alexis Lara O'Donahue , and movement choreographed by Joyce. The coming together of these elements created a powerfully moving piece about Mother Teresa's life and work, and Alexis brought it home with her moving rendition of Ave Maria providing a fitting finale to the piece.

Devanshi also presented two new dance choreographies by Joyce - the popular bhajan "Vaishnava jana to" composed by Narsinh Mehta, and "Marulu minchera," a beautifully composed javali by Balamuralikrishna. In the bhajan, Devanshi convincingly portrayed what the poet describes as the characteristics of a good human being. However, it was in the second piece that Devanshi's abhinaya truly shone. The intensity of emotion that she portrayed to convey an intimate moment with a lover took her performance to a whole new level. She truly was one with her heart and her art in this piece, and made her mark as a dancer to watch in the coming years.

Kudos to Joyce for painstaking attention to the details of each work presented at the performance. In addition to Shahana, Yogesh and Alexis, the competent orchestra had Joyce doing the nattuvangam, vocalist Mangalam Shankar and percussionist T.R Sundaresan from Chennai as well as violinist Murali Pavithran from Los Angeles, CA.