Homage to Lord Nataraja  
- Sunita Joshi, Alpharetta, GA 
December 11, 2006  

On November 12, 2006, the auditorium of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta was filled with lovers of Indian classical dance. The occasion was the fifth annual event honoring Divinity in Dance. Starting with a prayer to Lord Nataraja, the program was emceed by the inimitable Dr. Jayashree Shankar.  

The program started with an invocational piece, called Vinayaka Stuti, a prayer to Lord Ganesha, asking for his blessings for an auspicious beginning of the program. This piece was presented by the students of Sujaya Dixit - Sona Rao, Aruna Srinivasiah and Ankita Shirahatti. This was followed by Alarippu, a short and crisp Nritta piece, performed by Bhavini Subramani and her student Anuja Balachanthiran. Later Bhavini danced beautifully to a melodious Ram Bhajan, which made the audience engrossed in the music as well as in the dance. 

Bho Shambo
Kavadi Chindu, a beautiful folk dance, was performed by the able students of Padmaja Kelam - Pallavi Rallapalli, Akruthi Singh, Shruti Chandramouli, Vidya Rudresh, Akshaya Vijayakumar, Urvashy Pandya, Udita Menon, Sanjana Ramesh and Priyanka Natarajan. The young girls in typical Bharatanatyam half sarees were very expressive in depicting the myth of Lord Muruga's enchantment with Valli. This was followed by a folk dance in Kuchipudi style depicting the joyful preparation of the wedding of Shiva and Parvathy. Choreographed by guru Vempatti Chinnasatyam, it was presented by the students of Sasikala Penumarthy - Reneeta Basu, Jayanthi L Narayan, Rathika Gunturi, Pallavi Penumetcha, Sumi Selvaraj, Kanan Pandya, Praneetha Saraswathula and Revathi Lakkakula. The colorful attire, the rhythmic fast track and the perfect timings of the participants left the audience tapping their feet to the rhythm. 
Kavadi Chindu
Kuchipudi folk
Bho Shambho, a beautiful composition by Sri Dayananda Saraswati and elegantly choreographed by Uma Pulendran was beautiful and was well appreciated by the audience. It was performed by Uma herself and her students Asvini Harikrishnan, Mitra Kumareshwaran, Sandhya Gomadam and Yami Joshi. This piece was in praise of Lord Shiva, depicting him as the cosmic force of the Universe. The well co-ordinated movements of Uma and her students with the fast and rhythmic jathis were quite lively. After this, a Thillana was presented by Devi Sampath, Akshata Shirahatti and Aditi Srinivasiah - students of Sujaya Dixit.  This Bharatanatyam piece featuring the complex footwork and rapidly alternating rhythms and beats was very nicely presented.  

The program concluded with a unique presentation by Anupa Thakurta called 'Om Namoh Shivaya,' a mantra that represents fearlessness and protection against evil. The skillful choreography by Anupa to the eclectic music of Anoushka Shankar and Pt. Ravi Shankar enthralled the audience. It focused on the display of both Shiva's Tandavam and Parvathy's Lasyam and presented a glimpse of their four children - Lord Ganesha (Diya Datta), Lord Kartikeya (Sarayu Narayan), Goddess Lakshmi (Shivangi Das) and Goddess Saraswati (Umika Pal). The synchronized and the fast movements of her students, especially the little girls, was noteworthy. The students who accompanied Anupa in the dance were Nandini Sunil, Ahona Chatterjee, Amita Nawathe, Puja Shah, Rachel Kumar and Theresa Schambach. 

Item on Krishna 
Om Nama Shivaya
Ram Bhajan
Sujaya Dixit was the key person behind this program and she has been conducting this for the past 5 years for the dance lovers of Atlanta. She is the first Bharatanatyam teacher of Georgia and was honored by the Governor of Georgia. Like every year, the program ended with the "Mrityunjaya Japam" and all the teachers with their respective students walked to the Shiva temple with diyas (lamps) in their hands and paid their homage to Lord Nataraja. 

Sunita Joshi is a trained Yoga instructor, a special educator by vocation, and a dance enthusiast.