A celebration of music and dance in Pittsburgh  
- Govardhan Saraswath  
e-mail: govardhansaraswath@gmail.com 
October 7, 2007 

Three Aksha presented Prayog, an experiment in exploring mathematics through music and movement and Earth 'n' Beat, a musical performance. The day was a convergence of dance, rhythm, music and mathematics, on Aug 4, 2007 at the Sri Venkateshwara Temple Auditorium in Pittsburgh  

The presentation involved geometric shapes such as circle, triangle, straight line, pentagon, and star with multiple dimensions. The choreography was by Viji Rao, the artistic director of Three Aksha, and the brain behind this fabulous production. Her young performers were highly trained. Prayog’s exceptional choreography was communicative and coherent with both dance and mathematics. For the circle (Chakra), the choreography explored the usage of Mandalas, Bhramaris and Chari. The performers then formed the Trikona (triangle) with a very creative presentation by three dancers using different yoga postures and also use of props to present different forms of the triangle such as the right angled, equilateral and isosceles triangles. Alarippu was also incorporated in this section, exploring the distinctive feature of Bharatanatyam, the half sitting position wherein the body is broken up into a series of triangles. Also, the three nodes of the triangle imitated the music to take the three beat cycles and explore the permutations and combinations within.  
The highlight of the presentation was the straight line (Samarekha).  It was presented in different ways and had various Gatis or velocity.  Finally, the pentagon (Nakshatra) was depicted to music similar to the pattern of the Mallari. The performance ended with a vibrant Thillana initiated by Viji Rao, and the ensemble joined in for an extravagant finale. There was amazing coordination between the dancers, with no room for error through the entire presentation.  The dancer's execution of the peacock was a treat to watch. Viji Rao's creativity was well exhibited in this choreography.  The performance from the start to finish was neat and her hard work made this an excellent presentation worth watching.  

The man behind the music presentation was multi instrumentalist Praveen D Rao, with several different percussion instruments and also variety of electronic instruments like keyboard, and laptop to fill the auditorium as a part of Earth 'n' Beat ensemble! The concert had an appropriate start with Shankar Shanbogue singing a well known composition, Venakatachalanilayam, with Praveen on the tabla. The following number was in raga Hemant, a signature piece of Earth ‘n’ Beat.  

The performance had exciting rhythms and exotic sounds from around the globe giving the audience an effect of a whole orchestra. Shankar Shanbogue sang in Hindustani style while Praveen played on the electronic keyboard and joined in with rendering svaras and rhythmic syllables. The loop mission was used to repeat the music at times in this piece. The performance also involved the raga Keervani. Praveen played with ease all the percussion instruments and different talas on the tabla, mridangam and other instruments.  

The evening concluded with Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's Vande Mataram, a soulful rendering by Shankar Shanbogue. He definitely showed that he was a gifted versatile Hindustani singer. 

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening with a beautiful combination of both dance and music.