Bharatanatyam performance by Sharanya Chandran 
- Dr. Nita Vidyarthi, London 
August 21, 2009 

Sharanya Chandran, daughter and disciple of Geeta Chandran gave a scintillating performance of Bharatanatyam embracing the traditional margam at the Nehru Centre, London, on August, 11, 2009. An Economics graduate from The Lady Sriram College, Delhi and now a student of Development Studies at the London School of Economics as a prestigious Inlaks scholar, Sharanya formally learnt Bharatanatyam from the age of four from her mother and has performed widely at home as a part of the Natya Vriksha Dance Company as also at the Lincoln Centre, New York and the Thai Cultural Centre Bangkok. She has assisted her mother for Spicmacay and the just concluded dance workshop at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, and is also a part of Geeta’s non-traditional dance work. 

She began her recital (accompanied by recorded music) with a short invocation to Lord Ganesha, Pushpanjali and a Mukundamala Shlokam "Jayatu Devakinandana," primarily nritya, with vocal support by OS Arun, nattuvangam by (late) Guru KN Dakshinamurthi, violin by SK Chakrapani and mridangam by (late) Bejjangi Krishna. This was followed by Varnam, the centrepiece of a recital, very aptly dedicated to Lord Krishna as Janmashtami was a couple of days later. This Varnam was a special one, originally by the scholar-singer TR Subramanium but has now been reworked by Geeta and sung by Sudha Raghuraman. To the violin accompaniment by CS Anuroop, flute by G Raghuraman, mridangam by R Sriganesh and nattuvangam by Geeta, Sharanya danced to express her individuality and understanding of the art in every moment of this rather difficult composition. To match the intense musical frame or the extraordinary "swara-aksharam" in the second part of the piece requires talent, insight and training and Sharanya proved that she is a chip off the old block. Set to raga Behag in Adi talaam, the dancer filled up what the singer did not by directing her physical energy into rhythmic pattern and beautiful facial expression.  

After this elaborate Varnam, Javeli in raga Saveri (with the same accompaniment as Varnam) was reasonably a racy number where Sharanya's abhinaya, expressing shades of feeling while Radha questions Krishna why he knocks at her (Radha’s) door was remarkable. Her stately presence is an asset and so as Krishna standing with crossed feet and his flute aslant, she is magical.  

No traditional recital is complete without "Natanam Adinar" and the composition passes down from teacher to student. Geeta's guru Swarna Saraswati used to do it as a Padam, but Geeta reworked it without altering the soul of the piece. This cosmic dance of Shiva in the Golden Hall of Chidambaram is typified by speed, expression, line and style and is one of the exhausting solos, but the number gave Sharanya full scope to pay homage to Lord Shiva musically, rhythmically and stylistically. Her urge to co-ordinate movements of the body in response to the beats of the nattuvangam and mridangam seems inborn. With thunderous footwork, requisite precision as well as underlying control, her execution of this celestial number impressed the audience in the over- crowded Nehru Centre.  

Geeta Chandran as a Guru has transmitted the technical virtuosity as well as the understanding of the mystical and to a certain extent the spiritual nature of the classical dance form successfully to her daughter-disciple. Sharanya is undoubtedly a promising dancer in the making. Accolades came to both the mother and daughter from the Acting Director Mr. Rajesh K Srivastava and Mr. Madhup Mohta of the Centre as well as the ladies synonymous with dance in the UK.

A critic of performing arts, specialising in dance, dance theatre and expressions, and a regular contributor to the Statesman Kolkata in dance, vocal music and theatre. Trained in Kathak, both the Jaipur and Lucknow gharanas, was a disciple of the late Jaikumari, Ram Gopal Misra, Manjulika Roy Chowdhury and Gayatri Chatterjee. Had exposure to Bharatanatyam from Guru Maruthappa Pillai and Manipuri from Guru Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi.  Regular visitor to the festivals of UK and Europe. Also trained in vocal, semi-classical music and Rabindra Sangeet. A Science communicator, Ph.D. in Polymer Science, Commonwealth Scholar and a retired Professor of Chemistry, Nita devotes most of the time on dance and theatre writing.