Captivating Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Meera  
by B S Mani, Chicago 
August 22, 2004   

Aandal is a woman saint, who composed Thirupaavai, 
(famous Tamil poem), 30 songs in praise of Lord Vishnu
the facial expression of Yashoda 
watching over baby Krishna

Captivating abhinaya and scintillating footwork marked Meera Sriram’s Bharatanatyam Arangetram at Downers Grove North High School Auditorium on August 14, 2004.  Meera has a charming stage presence. Her bright, smiling face skillfully displayed all the abhinaya aspects. She maintained good control and confidence throughout the recital. Her Guru Sudha Srinivasan, Director of Nrithyalaya, located in Downers Grove, Illinois, has been instrumental in molding this young 14 year old girl, into a fine dancer.  Meera’s recital was the 25th Arangetram for her Guru Sudha Srinivasan, who coincidentally, had conducted her first Arangetram also at the same Downers Grove North High School auditorium. 

Bharatanatyam is the classical dance form from Tamil Nadu and consists of three main elements: BHA- Bhava, or expression; RA- Ragam, or melody; THA- Thalam, or rhythm; NATYAM means dance. Traditionally, the Arangetram signifies the first time that a dancer “ascends the stage” as a soloist for a full-length performance of a full repertoire of dances ranging from Allaripu (opening dance) to Thillana (the grand finale).  

After the invocatory prayer Meera started off with Ganesha Kautuvam followed by Allaripu in raga Nattai.  Following this was Jathiswaram in Hemavati. This was a rigorous dance where the notes (swaras) were set to a certain beat (thalam). The next item was Varnam in Nattakurunji. Considered the "central gem" of a dance recital, the Varnam is a combination of Rasa, Abhinaya, Jathi (rhythm), Swara (note), Theermanam & Thattimettu. The Varnam displayed not only Meera’s exquisite dancing skills but also maturity and discipline of an accomplished dancer. In this dance, Meera asks Lord Nataraja to come quickly and relieve her anxiety of being separated from him.  

The post intermission session commenced with “Chinna Chinna Padam” in ragam Kaapi depicting the charm of young Krishna. In this piece, mother Yashoda calls lovingly to her little son Krishna, to come to her taking tiny steps. "Bo Shumbo" in raga Revathi, was the next item. It focused on the dancing deity, Lord Nataraja, bringing in a somber mood of devotion. The final padham, a Thirupaavai is a Ragamalika. Meera was adorned as Aandal, a woman saint. The songs described the loving and teasing exchanges that took place between Aandal and her friends on their way to the temple.  

The last item was the Thillana, in ragam Kathanakudukalam. It is a traditional finale to an Arangetram, marked by intricate footwork in rhythmic patterns of movement. Meera concluded her performance with Mangalam. The debut would not have been so successful but for the outstanding live accompaniment. It comprised of Sudha Srinivasan on Nattuvangam, Vijayalakshmi Venugopal on Vocal, P.K. Swaminathan on Mridangam, Raman Kalyan on Flute and Manjula Rao on the Violin.  

The meticulous training imparted by Sudha Srinivasan was clearly visible in Meera’s performance, which was a testimony to Meera’s dedication, hard work, her passion for perfection and involvement in Bharatanatyam. Meera has been learning Bharatanatyam under Sudha Srinivasan for the last 9 years. Since 1998, she has been performing in various cultural events all across the Chicago area, like the Multi Cultural event at Addison Village, South Asia Symposium at College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn etc.  She has also performed for several religious events at both Sri Venkateswara  Swami Temple, Aurora, as well as at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Lemont.  

Our congratulations to Meera on a spectacular performance and best wishes in her future endeavors.