Upasana turns two: A celebration of commitment 

November 24, 2006  

On 11th November evening, it was heartening to see the 300 seater Waterside Arts Center at Sale full to capacity, all geared up for the second birthday celebrations of Upasana, an  Indian artistic group based in Manchester led by Bharatanatyam dancer Deepa Ganesh and funded by Awards for All. What was still better was to see the appreciative smiles with which the audience left after witnessing the 2 hour presentation.  
Cloclwise from left
Sowmya, Vaishnavi, Rita and Nivedita
Clockwise from behind - Vaishnavi, Rashmi, Nivedita, Devashree, Kushara and Siya
It was noteworthy that across training levels, from 3 year olds to adults, what was common in this group of 25, all students of Upasana, was the passion and commitment to professionalism. The Indian ethos tied the programme together, which flowed from Jathiswaram, to a little story telling medley on Krishna to Kavadi with beautiful props.  

The evening continued with a solo on Shiva, a pinnacle for this style of dance. The great composer Saint Tyagaraja said "Ragasudhaa rasaa paanamu jesi ranjillave O manasaa," meaning "relish the ambrosia of music to the utmost fulfilment- O dear heart." Mesmerising music and her befitting expressions left the audience pleasurably fascinated. Ragasudha performed Namah Sivaaya Te, an opening Keertanam of Adhyatma Ramayana in Dhanyasi Raga. It is a Sanskrit composition written by Sri Munipalle Subramanya Kavi, an eminent scholar poet and musician in the court of Kaalahasti in 18th century in Andhra Pradesh. The appealing text is interpreted into classical dance in many parts of South India. 

Adhyatma Ramayana opens with a conversation between Shiva and Parvati when the Divine Mother with great curiosity requests Lord Shiva to teach the philosophical content of Ramayana to her.  Shiva then taught her the "Adhyatma Ramayana." Preamble to Sudha's performance was young dancer Vaishnavi's exordium about Shiva, synopsizing the main composition.  

The neoclassical Ganesha which followed encapsulated the group's focus to bring the subtleties of the traditional art to the audience in a refreshing manner. Culminating in a vibrant Valachi Thillana of Dr. Rukmini Ramani and Mangalam, the entire retinue stood on stage along with the 6 elegant artistes in the choir, and one could see that in a short span of time, these individuals were blossoming into promising artistes. 

"After coming to UK, in two years I have learnt the value of just being better than what one was. I realise that way not only is unhealthy pressure off our shoulders, we are permanently in a journey of self actualisation through improvement. Utsav, the annual showcase of Upasana, our Manchester based group in UK, was indeed a moment of reflection and celebration of this very fact.  

In very many ways it was similar to the annual showcase of many groups around the world. The recognition of a journey of each student, an evening for all to stop, turn back and see the road taken, a moment of  stock taking, sharing and celebrating with friends and family a moment of pride and achievement. However there is a certain level of professionalism in anything and everything which not only do I aspire but try to inspire in every participant. This is the mantra I have learnt from my own teachers, Adyar Lakshman sir and Kalanidhi mami. Inspired personally by the details of Kalakshetra's Ramayana series and the nostalgic anecdotes from Sir, I am obsessed with details and doing our homework. It never fails and one can never do enough," says Deepa Ganesh, who has been in the field for more than 25 years. 

Lady Mayoress, Councillor Mrs. Vivienne Ward and her consort Mr. Rod Ward graced the occasion and congratulated the artistes.  Winners of Greater Manchester Youth Games Competition for Dance 2006, Upasana has taken this art form to more than 5000 people in just 2 years. Indeed it was an Utsav....a celebration!