Reviving Indian dance and music: where South meets North  
- Padma Dadi, Toronto 

June 13, 2006 


The connoisseurs of New Jersey were treated to an evening of pure classical artistry on Saturday, May 6th at the prestigious Nicholas Center, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. The Gandharva festival 2006,organized by the Madhyam group which made its debut last year, this year presented a spectacular Indian music and dance program featuring distinguished musicians from abroad and dancers who have settled in New Jersey, whose mission is propagating the richness and tradition of Indian culture. 

This expansive 6 hour program featured mellifluous music featuring guest vocalist Ashwini Bhide, keyboard player Abhijit Pohankar and acclaimed flautist Rakesh Chaurasia. The later half of the show was dedicated to an exemplary dance performance by Divya Yeluri (Kuchipudi) and Archana Joglekar (Kathak) blending the precision and gait of the Kathak dance form with the delicacy and suppleness of the Kuchipudi dance style, with live orchestra comprising of extremely good accompanists in both Hindustani and Carnatic music forms. 

The opening number was "Ananda Tandavam," a traditional Kuchipudi item wherein the dancers depict Lord Shiva performing the legendary Shiva tandavam in rhapsody wherein all the celestial beings too play the musical instruments and join in the rhythm of this cosmic dance. This item was choreographed and performed by both the artistes Divya and Archana to synchronize the movements to both Kuchipudi and Kathak styles and at the same time maintaining the uniqueness of each of the dance forms.   

The next item was a Tarangam, "Marakata Mani Maya Chela," performed by Divya Yeluri in the Kuchipudi style. In this item, Divya illustrates the divine qualities of the Lord such as benevolence and mercy through the Krishna Kuchela (Sudama) episode. This dance then culminates in the plate dance, where the dancer balances and performs intricate footwork on the edge of a brass plate. Divya's mime and expression and the swiftness of footwork took the audience into realms of artistic bliss. 

The last item was a solo by Archana Joglekar starting with the well known Tulsidas bhajan "Sri Rama Chandra," wherein she depicted the martial episode of Ramayana beginning with the formation of the varadhi, "the bridge" by Hanuman and the others, followed by Rama- Ravana Samharana  and also added a beautiful tail piece "Mandodari Vilaap." This culminated in the Santhi mantra praying for eternal peace and prosperity. Archana did a befitting job of depicting the various moods of the episodes. 

Divya D Yeluri and Archana Joglekar Mulye both based in New Jersey are accomplished artistes in their respective fields of Kuchipudi and Kathak. Archana Joglekar is the daughter and student of guru Asha Joglekar. She has worked in films as well. Divya Yeluri is a senior disciple of guru Vempati Chinna Satyam.  Archana Joglekar is a trustee and Vice Principal of Archana Nrityalaya Mumbai and Director of the New Jersey branch. Divya Yeluri is the Founder Director of Nritya Madhavi School of Dance in Edison, New Jersey. 

Padma Dadi has worked for Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle in India, followed by a 3 year stint as a journalist in Reading, UK. As a freelance journalist, she continues to contribute articles mainly to the Art and Culture sections of publications. She is presently based in Canada.