Padmasri Dance Academy presents Shivanjali  
- Balachandran Seetharaman  
October 14, 2007 

I have heard some harsh criticisms from some, such as "This level of dance is good enough for these kids growing up in America"; "That's all you can expect from them"; "You cannot expect the same as the kids from India" etc.   Some of these comments have reached the ears of these kids and they may have put up a glass ceiling to their performance levels.  Speaking for the NRI parents, I can say with our heads held high that our kids have proven the critics wrong!  Padmasri Dance Academy’s 'Shivanjali' program was another example of the talent of our kids.  Our kids are termed as ABCD's which has been redefined as American Born Cultured Desis.  The "C" can also be for Confident. 
But one reason that stands out among the NRI kids growing up in America who are learning various Indian art forms – it is their guru bhakthi.  The guru bhakthi was demonstrated by Sangeetha Sridhar herself towards her guru Padma Subrahmanyam, a living legend.  This program was a fundraiser for the Bharatha Muni Temple being built in Chennai.  It will be a unique temple dedicated to dance and a research center promoting our culture.  The guru bhakthi was also evident among the students of Sangeetha Sridhar in the dance program.  Padmasri Dance Academy presented a fabulous thematic dance performance called 'Shivanjali' and should be commended for an on-time start.   

I have witnessed a few programs of Sangeetha Sridhar and clearly this performance was the best I have seen.  Sangeetha was the main dancer with support provided by her senior students.  Her sense of rhythm was perfect.  Her chosen style of dance provides a lot of circular or symmetric motions and fluid body movements.  She gracefully executed them and there were also several elements of surprise in the presentation.  The group presentation with the students had some striking choreography and costumes.  It is very clear a lot of thought had gone into this.  The churning of the ocean scene with one dancer posing as Mandara Mountain and the others pulling the serpent tied around the mountain was very enjoyable.  The timing of the pulling and the churning was well executed.  Using several dancers to come together as the multi-headed Shiva with multiple hands was innovative.  Also, this is one of the few dance programs I have seen with a humorous act as well.  Good job! 

Though the program had a total of 13 songs, it went through quickly.  Being a group presentation, the costume changes were efficient.  "Adi Kondar" song in Mayamalava Goula ragam performed by the mother-daughter team of Sangeetha and Shilpa was choreographed and presented well.  The Varnam - Roopamu Joochi was long and performed as a solo by Sangeetha, was truly a treat to watch and listen.  The song was in Thodi and was performed beautifully by the musicians.  It provided a lot of scope for sancharis, bhavam, nrithyam and footwork.  In the Thillana in ragam Kannada (not Kaanada), the speed, poses, formations and footwork were brilliant and the song was very peppy. 

The music accompaniment was excellent.  The singer was Sudev Warrier, a disciple of Balamurali Krishna.  What an energy displayed by the mridangam player,  Sudhaman!  Krishna Prasad on the flute was very melodious and his Kambhodhi alapana was excellent.  Nattuvangam debut done by Vijayalakshmi Ranganathan showed promise.  Sangeetha demonstrated her experience when she did the nattuvangam. 
In an overall excellent show, students with more stage experience need to pay more attention to the details like walking in and out of stage and showing grace while standing. Stage management could have been better in terms of spacing the dancers especially when all the dancers were on stage at one time.  More dress rehearsals might have helped.  The dancers also need to be meticulous in their alankarams without needing to adjust them on stage. 

Senior students like Geetha Srinivasan and Sathvika Ramaji have grown beautifully as dancers. Keep it up!   The MC for the program was Karunya Krishnan and her Tamil pronunciation was excellent and descriptions of dances were precise.