A real treat of classicism 
- Usha Padmanabhan
December 13, 2006  

As an ardent connoisseur of classical arts in New Jersey and the Tri-state for over two decades, I was one of the fortunate ones to witness the Bharata Nrityam dance performance of Bala Devi Chandrashekar, on Friday, November 17 at the altar of Sri Dakshinamurthi - Arsha Bodha Center. Bala gave a brief overview on Natya Shastra and different aspects of Bharata Nrityam. She began her recital with an invocation in Raga Malahari followed by Someshwara Bajema, a composition of Swami Dayananda Saraswati in Ragam Hindolam, describing the greatness of Lord Someshwara.
To demonstrate the potentiality and technique Natya Shastra offers for creativity, Bala presented 'Jatayu Moksham,' an episode from Ramayana to Tchaikovsky's overture for Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Bala's guru Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam. Bala's demonstration depicted the moving episode of the divine bird. It was amazing to see the wonderful choreography for the symphony music without the help of a single word to express the situation. Truly Tchaikovsky's overture took a new meaning through this brilliant choreography and presentation and was a highlight of the program.

This was followed by Muthuswami Dikshitar's composition steeped in the bliss of Shivananda - Sivakameshwari Chintayeham in ragam Kalyani. Bala's performance reflected upon Goddess Sivakameshwari, bringing the true fulfillment of the sentiment of shringara rasa. This was followed by Kaavadi Chindu, a lighter piece full of exuberance expressed by Bala's lightning, crisp, fast paced movements.

Bala concluded the program with Saint Annamacharya's composition- Brahmam Okate. In this dance we could see vivid exposition of the beauty of Oneness - "The absolute spirit is one and only one, and it's one's own awareness! Brahman is in everyone, everything and everywhere" and one didn't have to know the language to feel what Bala was portraying, that every living being is a part of the Supreme energy.

I was truly impressed with the way she depicted the different characters with the appropriate bhava and rasa, captivating the audience with her graceful performance. Bala's ability to move the viewers and make them a part of the whole experience is truly inspiring.