September 2002

A group from the Triangle area in North Carolina, U.S.A staged a full length classical Indian ballet titled "Andal Kalyanam" in the Bharatanatyam style on September 1st, 2002 at Cary Academy's Fine Arts Theatre. This program was sponsored by the Sri Venkateswara Temple of North Carolina and was conducted as a fundraiser. The program came as the grand finale for the third anniversary celebrations of the temple.  

"Andal Kalyanam" was a two-hour production, which recounted the life of Andal, from her birth to her merging with her chosen Lord - Ranganatha. The marriage of Andal and Vishnu was depicted as an actual event in accordance with the well-known dream of Andal. The concept, artistic and music direction for the performance was provided by Vijayalakshmi Balachandran. The choreography and dance direction was executed by Jayanthi Balachandran, a disciple of Chitra Visweswaran. Some portions of the ballet featured Andalís own lyrics (Tiruppavai & Tirumozhi) and other well-known pieces of music. However, a large portion of the lyrics were written and set to music by Vijayalakshmi Balachandran herself.  

Trained by Jayanthi, the fifteen dancers, ranging from 12 to 17 years of age, presented the dance drama, which was replete with intricate movements, visually pleasing group formations, moving abhinaya and colorful costumes. The "kalyana utsavam" or the marriage ceremony of Andal and Vishnu was the finale of the dance drama and was vividly portrayed with the help of eye-catching props such as a palanquin, a "sacrificial fire" and grand wedding paraphernalia among other things.  

A full-fledged live orchestra from the triangle area consisting of accomplished musicians on the mridangam, veena, flute, violin and vocal accompanied the dancers.  

Over 500 people attended the program and a standing ovation was testimony of the appreciation by the audience.