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Shreya Iyer

Natya Manjari
- Ryan Nathan

April 13, 2018

Jayendra Kalakendra presented its next generation of dancers and choreographers on March 18th at Cubberly Theatre, Palo Alto, CA. These youngsters thrive under the artistic direction of Suganda Sreenath Iyer and principal dancer Shreya Iyer. Jayendra Kalakendra, a San Jose based classical dance school, chose to donate its proceeds to two evergreen non-profit organizations - Community Seva and Mithil Prasad Foundation.

The evening started with the traditional Mallari piece in Gambeera Nattai with Alarippu in sankeernam tala, with exquisite choreography for these two pieces which is not too often seen in the Bay Area performance circle. The coordination of jathis and patterns was impressive. Shreya Iyer performed Shivastakam (an ode to Lord Shiva) with various sculpturesque poses presented with supple movements. Her anghasudham exhibited the training received under her mother Suganda Sreenath and the eminent dance gurus The Dhananjayans. Senior students' overall level of proficiency was tested by Dasavataram (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu). Poet Jayadeva brings about the essence of this poem in Madhura Bhakti as liturgized in the Bhagavatham and Narada Bhakti Sutras. This was a polished performance, an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with this asthapadi, thanks to the helpful narration.

The keerthanam Yen Palli Kondeer Ayya, composed by Arunchala Kavirayar, was an ode to Lord Ranganatha (Ragamalika, adi) in which the devotee asks whether Lord Ranganatha was resting after his ordeals in the Krishnavatar and Ramaavatar depicting the selfless truth of bhakti and devotion by the devotee. An intense abhinaya item, it was carefully executed without any lag.

The program featured two bhajan style renditions, principal being the Meera Bhajan by Shreya, an epic tale of love and devotion to Krishna himself in bhakti shringara with emphasized abhinaya through gesture, expression and dhristi bedas. Following Meera Bhajan was Vaishnava jana tho, a 15th century hymn demarking equality and propagating universal message of "Sarva Dharma Samanvayam", where aptly the senior dancers drew attention to the universal religion to practice universal peace and brotherhood. The evening concluded with Kadanakuthuhalam Thillana, an original score of late Dr. M Balamurali Krishna and choreography by the Dhananjayans. Dancers executed nritta with perfection and ended with a sahitya on Krishna, where dancers depicted the Supreme revealing his true self when Arjuna, the shishya, is ready and surrenders himself to the supreme intellect. To expand on the lyrics, the dancers did a crisp recap of the Srimad Bhagavatham.

Overall the evening performance deserved accolades for timing, coordination and execution - a job well done and a real treat for Bay Area dance enthusiasts.

Ryan Nathan is a dancer and art lover.