Arangetram of Anjali Gopal at St. Paul, MN 
- Nirmala Rajasekar, MN 

October 10, 2008 
Anjali Gopal, a fifteen year old student of Bharatanatyam, presented her Arangetram on July 5, 2008.  The invocatory piece was well done with a good strong opening by Anjali.  The piece "Sri Vigna Raajam" by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyyar set the tone for a refreshing Arangetram concert.

After performing the Jathiswaram in ragam Sarawathi, Anjali danced the Shabdam "Vaayu Maindane."  True to the nature of the piece, the drama of the piece was well choreographed by guru Suchitra Sairam and executed effectively by Anjali. One could see the playful Hanuman in her abhinaya.

The Varnam received elaborate treatment in the dancing, and the explanation preceding the piece chosen created the right atmosphere. Through the Ragamalika Varnam "Navarasa Gaanam Pirandidume," with lyrics by Isai Amudan, and music and dance choreography by M V Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi, Anjali was able to depict the nine emotions as delineated by the Natya Shastra. There was good scope to challenge Anjali's physical stamina and capability to perform intricate laya in it, which she did with aplomb.

The famous "Chandra Chooda" was danced after a costume change, and suited Anjali very well. The piece in praise of Shiva was followed by the Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar composition "Parthasarathy" in Madhyamavati raga, and gave Anjali enough space to create the magic of the Geeta Saaram very aptly. The concert's penultimate item was a Thillana in Hindolam ragam with lyrics from the Natya Shastra. The concert's last song was "Bhagyada Lakshmi" was a fitting conclusion to a nice evening.  It was beautifully executed by Anjali and her musicians.

The high quality of music by P Ramaa (vocal), Suchitra Sairam (nattuvangam), P Janardhana Rao (mridangam), D V Prasanna Kumar (rhythm pads, kanjeera and morsing) and K S Jayaram (flute) gave a solid foundation and played a big part in the success of the concert.  The 2 solos sung by the musicians from Bangalore, the invocation "Gajavadana Beduve" and the post-varnam musical interlude "Baaro Krishnaiyya," were much enjoyed by the large audience.

One could not believe that this was the first concert for Anjali. She danced with absolute confidence and seemed to enjoy what she was doing.  Credit goes to her teacher Suchitra Sairam for a fine job in molding this young lady so well.  The large crowd at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center had a satisfying evening of dance and music thanks to Kala Vandanam Dance Company. 

Nirmala Rajasekar is a disciple of Kalpakam Swaminathan on the veena and Prof T R Subramanyam and B Sitarama Sarma for vocal music. Nirmala has been a director of the Indian Music Society of Minnesota since 1996. She is the artistic director of the Indian music organization 'Nada Rasa Center for Music' and founder of Carnatic Energy (a group that presents the best of the improvisations of Carnatic music and its western cousin Jazz) along with Jazz bass great Anthony Cox.