Natyanjali Festival in Mumbai
- Vijay Shanker

April 4, 2013

Organised annually by Shanmukhapriya, the cutural wing of Subramanya Samaj, the last day (9th March) of Natyanjali festival held at the Subramanya Temple premises in Chembur (Mumbai) was a happy spectacle, as the audience witnessed some very talented dancers who danced with lot of enthusiasm and involvement, thereby combining divinity with artistic creativity.

The evening’s performance commenced with the students from Uttara Centre from Hyderabad led by accomplished exponent and mentor Geetha Ganesan. It was a visual delight to watch the sparkling teenaged dancers dancing with enthusiasm and zeal while incorporating the Vinayaka Stuti and Shlokam in praise of Lord Ganesha in raag Amritavarshini, followed by an extract from Shiva Puranam, wherein Geetha presented the dramatic portrayal of ‘Gangaavartanam’ as to how Lord Shiva locks Ganga in his hair locks and controls the water from flowing. This number also exposes the episode on how gods go in search of the feet and head of the Lord. It was in raag Sindhubairavi and performed with commendable abhinaya by Geetha Ganesan. The students concluded with the delightful Mayamalavagoula Thillana.

Geetha Ganesan's disciples

Shrilekha Nair

Senior disciples of Debi Basu, Anu Narayan, Sangeetha Rajan and Sujata Nair performed Odissi featuring items like the Mangalacharan, Madhuvanti Pallavi and Ashtapadi "Shruta Kamala" with pleasing expressions and maintained the typical grace for which Odissi is known for. It was a pleasure to watch them all dancing with uniformity and harmony.

Disciples of Vaibhav Arekar performed Bharatanatyam with ease and precision. The first number incorporating various gods like Indra, Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Kubera, Shiva etc was noteworthy for its unique quality of both substance and structure. Tulsidas's "Tumak Chalat Ramachandra" and the Marathi composition "Rusli Radha Rusla Madhava" were well enacted. Chaitali Sengupta has a fine stage presence but must reduce her weight.

The disciples of Bharatanatyam guru Lata Surendra are known for the excellence of technical quality as they dance with flawless ease and precision. This was evident right from the Nataraja Vandanam till the finale of Shiva Panchaakshara Shlokam. It was a delight to watch the dancers perform the Vasanta Jatiswaram wherein they dance in parts and then combine the rhythmic syllable while dancing together maintaining accuracy. Purandaradasa composition "Sharanam Bhanangana" in which the saint poet reveals the episode as to how Lord Ganesha worships his parents Lord Shiva and Parvati and thereby wins the fruit of knowledge over his brother Kartikeya was performed by one of the senior most disciples Shrilekha Nair. The Kamboji Varnam featured the Virahotkhandita nayika wherein she anxiously waits to meet her Lord and tells her friend "Swami nathane ayuthava sakhiye." Srilekha has a striking stage personality and can do wonders provided she works consistently with devotion. Guru Lata Surendra is the recipient of the Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademi for her contribution towards the enrichment and propagation of Bharatanatyam.

Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.