Bangara Festival: 25th Anniversary of Nritya Kalamandiram 
Text & pics: Lakshmi Sivakumar and P Sivakumar, Pune  
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February 3, 2007 

Having weathered the ravages of time and tide, Nritya Kalamandiram (Bangalore) celebrated the Bangara Festival for its Silver Jubilee. This speaks volumes about the journey of an initiative taken 25 years ago.  
One evening amongst a series of presentations for the Silver Jubilee celebrations was January 6, 2007 at the JSS Auditorium, Bangalore. The evening commenced with "Ganesha Stuti" by dancing duo Radhika Chaitanya and Vandana Bharadwaj, disciples of renowned guru Bhanumathi. The artists offered prayers to the almighty seeking his blessings for a successful performance. No doubt the prayers were answered in totality as they performed beautifully, indeed a good beginning for the evening's proceedings. 

Ganesha Stuti was followed by a Kriti "Jai Janaki Ramana" set to Ragamalika and Khanda Chapu Tala. The duo presented well choreographed episodes on Vishnu avatar. They had a good stage presence, and were able to hold the rasikas' attention. 

Vandana Bharadwaj, Radhika Chaitanya
Radhika Chaitanya
Radhika Chaitanya performed a solo Padam titled "Aduyum Sholluval." Radhika as a Swadhena Patika Nayika, definitely showed class and stage experience with apt   expressions. A Javali followed this Padam, where Vandana Bharadwaj presented a solo "Edeney Sakhi" set to Behaag Raag. As a Vasaka Sajja Nayika, Vandana made good attempt in portraying the character. A high point of Vandana's performance was the transition from a Vasaka Sajja to a Virahotkanditha. This choreography of the legendary Venkatalakshamma, the maestro of Mysore style of Bharatanatyam, was well executed by Vandana. The duo concluded with a Tillana based on the composition of Dwarki Krishnaswamy, set to Adi tala based on Valachi Raaga.  

Their guru's choreographic brilliance was brought alive by the artists, with unusual combination of Adavus, and good synchronization, especially in the Tillana. Their fine performance showed the amount of hard work that goes into such a presentation. While Radhika showed her stage experience, Vandana surely can rise to a higher level in her dance, with better breathing control and more expressive abhinaya. 

Shridhar and Anuradha Shridhar
Shridhar and Anuradha Shridhar are a talented twosome, and their love and commitment towards dance, shows they are one at heart with their art. Anu Shridhar come alive on stage and liven it up with their sheer presence, as they bring to life the many characters and situations with their brilliance. Anu Shridhar performed a Varnam based on Tirupati Venkataramana, a composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Raag Shanmukhapriya. Beginning with the tale of Ahilya, Anu and Shridhar captured the audience's attention. Deen Dayalu followed bringing forth the compassionate Venkataramana. The episode of Draupadi from Mahabharata was a bench mark of sorts; though the scene performed involved only Draupadi and Dushashana, one could feel Lord Krishna's presence.  

They maintained the tempo and brilliance throughout the story of Vamana followed by Venkatagirisha, Chitta Swara and Charana word and dance about Venkataramana - and concluded with the chant "Hey Rama, hey Padmanabha, you are the one who showers happiness on all." The high level of synchronization during their performance made it seem as if each bell of their gunghroos was striking simultaneously.  

Their angashuddhi, use of the available dance space, and ability to reach the rasikas and communicate with them showed that you need to live the art to be able to present abhinaya of such high order. Their brisk footwork and energies of Jatis culminating into beautiful sculpturesque postures was a hallmark of their presentation. Tandava and Lasya aspects in their performance emphasized hard work and dedication that they have been able to maintain consistently. Great performances are about a cohesive effort and Anuradha and Shridhar were supported ably by Bharati Venugopal vocal, Kartik Datar - nattuvangam, Nataraj Murthy violin, Sarvotham flute and Harsha Samoya mridangam. Beginners of dance could have learnt a lot from watching the performance. 

Savitha Josephine
Savitha Josephine and Nagabrinda Srinivas
Savitha Josephine and Nagabrinda Srinivas, disciples of guru Bhanumathi, also performed as part of the Bangara Festival.  The duo began with Shabdam based on lord Shiva, a combination of Chollukattu and Sahitya. In their energetic performance, the dancers were able to generate a mirror like flow of dance in their minutely worked synchronized moments. Through the opening piece the young dancers seemed to have hit the best, complementing each other. It was almost as if the energies of Anu Shridhar's performance flowed on to them on stage. Savitha and Nagabrinda then moved on to present the plight of the devotees of Ranganathaswami at Srirangam. The dancers presented all the aspects from this mythological epic - each portion from the story about lord Vishnu was well performed, from his incarnations like Parasurama as well as a lot of adaptations about lord Krishna.  

Savitha Josephine presented a Kriti in Poorvi Kalyani Raag, Adi Tala. She danced solo Ananda Tandav based on the song "Ananda Natamaduva Thillai." Savitha's performance as a soloist was a highlight of this performance. She was at ease in portraying the story about the beauty of the dance of Lord Shiva. It truly seemed to be the inspiration which led this young danseuse to perform, earning applauses for her neat presentation interspersed with flexible poses. Her confidence and technical prowess drew the attention of the audience.  

Nagabrinda performed a solo Padam set to Raag Saveri and Roopaka Tala. She portrayed a Khanditha Nayika waiting for Lord Subramanya. The Padam was a dialogue between the Nayika who is outraged with the Nayaka for his behaviour, and not responding to her. The Nayika proves to the lord how he was at the other woman's place by showing him proof, in the form of hair, kaajal, marks, and finally she asks the lord to leave. Nagabrinda's performance of this Padam was good, but it needs to be improved. As an enraged Nayika her portrayal was slightly off mark, and her abhinaya needs some polish too. But once again with the concluding Tillana item with its very intricate footwork, it was yet again a crowning glory of the wonderful evening. Their performance had the angashuddhi and good abhinaya, and they have a very good future. With a little bit of fine tuning in her expression, Nagabrinda can do wonders.  

The hall was filled to capacity and the audience applauded whole heartedly. A good performance needs to be applauded and encouraged and the audience rightly did so. 

Lakshmi is a Bharatanatyam dancer. Sivakumar has a passion for the arts and is a freelance writer. He is a collector of dance related news clippings.