The Bharata Natyam Arangetram of 13-year-old Sreenidhi held on July 22, 2018 was an evening of delight.
She began with poise and composure with three initial items, ‘Pushpanjali’ composed by Balamuralikrishna in Ragam Arabhi and Thalam Aadi; ‘Virutham Malayalam,’ KKS Iyer in Ragamalika on Ayyapan; followed by ‘Allarippu’ in Ekadesha Thalam.
In each of these, the young artiste portrayed her confidence and dedication to the art.
‘Jatheeswaram’ in Ragam Saveri and Thalam Roopakam composed by Thanjavur Quartet was adorable. This allowed Sreenidhi to demonstrate her understanding of intricate footwork, geometrical body movements and mathematical calculations that are involved in showcasing the rhythmic or Nritta elements of Bharata Natyam.
The Story of Hanuman
Varnam, which focuses equally on Jathis and Abhinaya, narrated three aspects of Lord Hanuman – his birth, childhood and confrontation with Ravana the King of Lanka, all of which were deftly enacted.
First, when Anjana (a Vanara woman) was out walking through the forest, Vayu, the God of Wind is consumed by Anjana’s spiritual beauty and from their union was born Hanuman.
Second, mischievous, energetic little Hanuman, while at play, suddenly feels strong pangs of hunger. He sees a lovely orange ball in the sky. Mistaking it for the juicy fruit, makes a gigantic leap to pluck the ‘Sun’ for his meal.
Lord Indra is angry at this and strikes the boy down with his thunderbolt. God Vayu is grief stricken and refuses to fulfil his Godly duties. Without air, life would cease on earth and hence, Indra restores Hanuman back to life.
Third, Hanuman’s encounter with the ten-headed King of Lanka. Ravana is furious to hear of a monkey’s havoc in his Kingdom. He commands his troops to capture and bring him to the Court in chains; after which, sets his tail on fire. But the intelligent Hanuman outwits him, burning down a large part of Lanka instead.
The verse was in his praise. Hanuman is strong, intelligent, an embodiment of affection, epitome of humility and is the only God who addresses all with folded hands.
Outpour of emotions
Composed by Madurai R Muralidharan in Tamil, Ragam Keeravani and Thalam Aadi, the Varnam was awe-inspiring dance. The different emotions were neatly and clearly expressed. Bhakti, Anurag and Veera rasas, the vivid expression changes, perfect Jathis and awesome Abhinaya, left the audience spell bound.
Thillana, the master piece of Bharatha Natyam concerts is a pure rhythmic and sculptural dance with a small bit of Abhinaya at the end.
Composed by Balamuralikrishna in Raagam Garudadhwani, Thalam Adhi on Lord Shiva was a fabulous presentation. The subtle incorporation of other classical dances was lovable. Almost at the end of the concert, the artiste was still carrying the same energy, enthusiasm and interest with a bright smile which I adored.
The Maori blend
The contemporary Maori legend through Bharata Natyam was a highlight.
It was in Te Reo Maori language, source Tangaroa Whakamautai from the album ‘Whitiora’ by Maisey Rika that brought different moods of Tangaroa, the ocean, exploring and how it was the energy and the bravery of a single woman Wairaka that give the town Whakatane its name.
A befitting conclusion, Mangalam, was compilation of a Maori Waita and a Sanskrit hymn. The music for this piece was by Arjun Puveendran in Ragam Kalyani, Thalam Aadi, praising Mother Earth.
Sreenidhi is a talented, beautiful and blessed teenager. Keeping up the tempo of hardwork, determination and dedication she can become a great artiste.
Nattuvangam: Govind Pillai, Dancer and Teacher, Melbourne; Vocal: Arjunan Puveendran, Sydney; Mridangam: Venkat Ramakrishnan, Melbourne; Violin: Anita Das, Melbourne; Veena: Kasthuri Sahadthevan, Melbourne; Guru: Mother Sandhya Pillai, Auckland.
Padmalatha Dev is an accomplished Bharata Natyam Dancer and Teacher. She is the Principal and Director of ‘Padma’s School of Indian Classical Dance,’ and conducts Bharata Natyam classes in New Lynn and Ranui in West Auckland. She can be contacted on (09) 8261273 or 021-1379406. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- ‘Pushpanjali,’ Floral tribute to Lord Nataraja, the Master of Dances
- Sreenidhi depicting the all-powerful Shakthi
- From ‘Jatheeswaram’ to ‘Thillana,’ an exquisite display of talent