Dhananjayans in Birmingham, Alabama
by Sreelatha Meleth
On June 28th
2003, the audiences in Birmingham, Alabama, USA watched spell bound as
V.P.Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan flawlessly illustrated the depth
and timelessness of Bharata Natyam.
The first half of the show was devoted to the students of Natyananda, who ably demonstrated the Nritya aspect of Bharata Natyam, with four pieces, The Lotus Dance, The Nataraja Anjali, a Jattiswaram, and a Tillana in raga Shivashakti.
V P Dhananjayan connected instantly with the audiences, when he came on stage singing “I am sixty going on seventy’ as a preamble to his description of Bharata Natyam as a timeless art form that has no age boundaries. He described Radha Madhavam, as a tiff between a husband and wife that everyone is familiar with, effortlessly bringing the 12th century Jayadeva poem into the current century and making the dance relevant to young and old alike.
The couple have danced for so long and have been recognized in so many ways around the world, that anything one says about their performance has probably already been said in a number of ways and a number of times. It was a breath taking performance that beautifully demonstrated both the nritya and bhava aspects of Bharata Natyam. ‘It is an unforgettable experience’’ We will always remember this’, ‘ Did you see the expression on his face?’, ‘It was a beautiful program’, were just some of the phrases repeated a thousand times over by Indian Americans and Non-Indian Americans alike. The Bharata Kalanjali musicians complemented the dance with music that was a performance in itself. The Dhananjayans along with their musical troupe were truly cultural ambassadors of India, demonstrating not only a timeless art form flawlessly but also demonstrating a confidence and affability that made the Indians in the audience proud to claim the same heritage as them.