Sold out solo - a Tsunami
Relief Benefit by Nitya Venkateswaran
February 9, 2005
performance at the ODC Theater in San Francisco on January 30th was SOLD
OUT. As I watched her dance in this intimate theater in the Mission
District of San Francisco along with the packed audience, I thought “Rightly
so.” The program was organized by the Venkateswarans, with net proceeds
donated to aid victims of the recent tsunami in South India through BAPS
performance was a freshly choreographed sequence of 7 distinctive pieces,
each one highlighting different fundamental aspects of Bharatanatyam.
Nitya anchored the show with an artful mudra/abhinaya punctuated
introduction that preceded every piece. If the Thillana showcased
Nitya’s skilled footwork and temple-sculpture like poses, the mood of the
Shiva Bhajan, the mother’s love for baby Krishna in Gopiyar Kunjum,
and Tagore’s Chandalika came alive with her expressive natyam (dance).
Particular mention must be made of the inclusion of Tagore’s Chandalika – the story of a Buddhist monk accepting water from an untouchable woman - to this recital. Typically presented using Kathak or Odissi dance, the interpretation of Bengali music here in the Bharatanatyam idiom was seamless. This is a compliment to the dancer and ultimately to the dance form that lends itself to a ragam and talam other than its core Carnatic music.
Vishal Ramani, Nitya’s teacher, choreographed the show and was in the audience watching her shishya dance. It was touching to see Nitya end with a namaskaram to the same teacher who aligned her into her first ardhamandali when she was all of four years old.
The crowd was a diverse one and counted in its midst, seasoned bay-area kutcheri goers, young students of dance, as well as interested attendees watching a Bharatanatyam for the first time. Nitya’s love for her art and evident skill ensured that this show appealed to the spectrum.
Nitya has trained
for 24 years in this South Indian classical dance form. She started
at the age of 4 from Vishal Ramani, Founder and Artistic Director of Shri
Krupa Dance Company, the oldest Bharatanatyam dance school in San Jose,
CA. One of the few second generation Indian Americans to pursue a professional
career as a Bharatanatyam dancer, Nitya embarked on her solo career in
Chennai, in the 2001 and 2002 Dance and Music seasons. She currently lives
and performs in the Bay Area.