Sree Sankara Choreo-Fest 2009 

 June 24, 2009 

The Sree Sankara School of Dance, Kalady, organized a presentation of newly choreographed classical dance items. The first session was on the 21st of June 2009 at the Sree Sankara Natyamandapam. The major objectives of the venture are:

- To choreograph new classical items in the Mohiniattam, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi styles.
- Presentation of compositions of the old composers not popularly presented or hitherto not choreographed. This is being done as a supplement to preserve the works of ancient composers to conserve our epics and historically significant traditions.
- Write lyrical stories based on subjects of contemporary relevance, the specific intention of using classical dances as a powerful media to identify and choreograph and present them to the invitees and collect their feed back. This is being done to create awareness among the socially conscious public and suggest probable solutions to the relevant problems.
- Involve the upcoming trainees of the SSD in the selection of themes and choreography, so that they realize the power and utility of the dance media as they also learn the different aspects of a stage production. Thus, dance is to be perceived as not just a medium for entertainment, but also as one in establishing social and individual stability.

The three new items choreographed are:
Selected stanzas from 'Achyutaashtakam,' one of the most simple and popularly known compositions of Adi Sankaracharya, was presented in the Kuchipudi style by Saumya Varma. In this item, the divine form and the different awesome deeds of Sree Krishna, the total incarnation of Vishnu is described with scintillating lyrical beauty. The dance version includes complimentary narrations of annihilating the demonic Pootana and how Krishna saved Draupadi, when she was dragged into the court of the Kauravas and manhandled by Dussasana, after the Pandvas lost the game of dice, tricked by the wicked Sakuni. The composition ends by quoting the word of the author that those who regularly practice reading the work shall soon reach the abode of Vishnu.  

The scene depicting 'Seetaswayamvaram' from the works of Thunjath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan was presented by Avanijalakshmi, in the Mohiniattam format. Sage Viswamitra arrives at the palace of King Janaka, with Sree Rama and Lakshmana after successfully completing a great Yaga. The palace is all set for young Seeta's wedding. Janaka ushers in the great sage and the young princes and informs them that his daughter would be married to the one who breaks Lord Shiva's bow endowed with divine powers. While several mighty kings fail even to lift the bow, Sree Rama breaks it with ease and reverence, thus winning the young Seeta.

'Periyarainte gathi' in the Mohiniattam style is a theme written by Prof. CP Unnikrishnan, narrating the spiritual and material values of the river Periyar which are nearly lost. The banks of the river are blessed by the birth and childhood days of Sree Sankaracharya who installed the deity of the Sree Krishna temple. Viswa Guru Sree Narayana Gurudev held the world conference of all religions on the banks of this river. Periyar remained a major waterway for commutation by traders and others, which established loss of cultural and commercial inter-regional relationships. Many souls attained salvation by the posthumous rituals done by their descendants. The run of time is converting the river into nearly drying gutter of filth….totally polluted and turned inaccessible for pure water or other uses. As the skyscrapers increase in number, the precious wealth of sand is disappearing in alarming dimensions. Periyar is gasping, calling for help in silence. The helpless retaliation of nature against the overambitious encroach of humanity is growing into terrifying proportions. Athulya Shaji ended her performance, appealing to all, not to be late to save the precious wealth...our dear Periyar!

The program was conceived by Prof. PV Peetambaran, directed by Prof. CP Unnikrishnan, with dance-structuring by Sudha Peetambaran. Music was scored by MS Unnikrishnan Perumbavur. The background music was by Sreekumar Oorakam (vocal), Venu Kurumassery (mridangam and maddalam), Unnikrishnan Perumbavur (flute), and Baburaj Perumbavur (violin and keyboard).