Dhananjayans gave a lec-dem on “The art of living with a living art” at
the Hindu Temple, Canton, MI on June 27,2004.
Under the auspices
of Nrityollaasa, Center for performing arts in Michigan the Dhananjayans
gave an elucidating lecture demonstration on the technique of Bharatanaatyam.
The founder and Director of Nrityollasa Roopa Shyamasundara, welcoming
the audience said the Dhananjayans are the finest example for “the art
of living with a living art” both in profession and in life, making it
complimentary to each other. It was indeed a great revelation to the large
crowd who attended the session, that the couple have been living with this
performing art almost 55 years, and made the art a way of living.
In his opening remarks he said Bharatanaatyam is a living art tracing it’s antiquity to thousands of years back and how it withstood the test of time. This art has grown beyond time and space and its richness cannot be matched with any mere physical technique being presented as modern or contemporary. Dhananjayan’s explicit demonstration and explanation convinced the audience that in the name of modernity we are tracing back to our primitive physical activities both in body movements and attires. Bharatanaatyam is the most civilized and sophisticated performing art with vast scope for innovations according to time and situations. He very liberally quoted from the Naatyasaastra, the freedom of expression within the discipline of a fathomless technique developed by our sages and further contributions from great Gurus of each generation.
Answering a question from the audience for abstract expressions without emotions, instant demonstration of the body language through which he communicated the ideas, drew instantaneous applause. Further he asked the camp participants to come out with their own gestures for abstract objects and proved to the audience the periodical innovations in the technique contributed by various artists were assimilated into the main stream. He said there is nothing that cannot be communicated by the deep rooted technique in the various performing art forms of Bharata and changes have taken place keeping the aesthetic beauty and Indian ethos intact.
He made the uninitiated members of the audience to feel one with the art and how easy it is to understand and appreciate classical Dance forms. Joining the discussion, Shanta Dhananjayan answered some of the parents’ questions and said learning art gives a child a sense of cultural affinity and mental discipline, which will reflect in any profession he or she chooses. She further added that, at least they would be better human beings.
Explaining and demonstrating the points, Dhananjayan said Nritta - the pure abstract dance of rhythm, cleanse the body, Nritya – the expression of communication educate the mind, and Naatya – the spiritual enlightenment through enacting stories of moral values, and demonstrated these aspects with the help of some of the participants in the Naatya adhyayana camp organized by Nrityollaasa.
Climax of the evening lecture demonstration brought down the house when a little 5 year old girl walked up to the dais and narrated the story of a deer enacted by Dhananjayan in the classical idiom. The communication was instantaneous with the technique employed in the classical dance and this proved beyond any doubt that Bharatanaatyam is so very easy to understand even to a little child and can elevate one to a higher plane of spirituality. If properly performed by the artiste it can touch the heart.
During the course of the lec-dem, Dhananjayan mentioned that, if each family had invited and brought at least one American neighbor or friend for this lecture demonstration, the community could have justified their contribution of popularizing the value and richness of Indian art and culture and not confining it to themselves. (Food for thought)
In the concluding remarks Prof. Subramaniam, a visiting grand old man from India, said any classical art discipline (music or dance) is good for growing children to sharpen their intelligence and increase power of concentration. The best medicine for tension or stress release is to listen to classical music or to watch Bharatanaatyam, which provide both listening and visual pleasure. He said people here wasted a lot of money on stress release medicines and artificial exercises, instead they can get rich rewards from classical music and dance for less spending. He congratulated Roopa Shyamsundar and thanked her for the community service she is doing by organizing such events and also imparting training in Bharatanaatyam to young children in this area.
Sudha Chandrasekhar, a well known Bharatanaatyam artiste and pioneer in the US, felicitated the Dhananjayans and said they have been great inspirations to very many artistes like her.