Sai Nrutyotsava-Chennai

November 18, 2009 

From performing in class room presentations, to be elevated to platforms on home turfs, gives many a dancer a sense of accomplishment. For a serious sadhaka of Natya Yoga, being accepted as a dancer outside their confines is a sense of achievement, especially in places like Chennai, known to be The Mecca for classical dance.
Udaya Karnataka Sangha, Chennai, provided the platform for Sai Arts International, Bangalore, to bring select dancers and showcase the talent of Karnataka artistes at the Sai Nrutyotsava-Chennai on 2nd and 3rd November 2009 at the Mini Hall of Music Academy. The first day event was honored by the presence of Seetha Ratnakar, Asst Director of Chennai Doordarshan, while on the second day Mohiniattam dancer Gopika Varma expressed the elation a dancer from different region feels, when accepted outside their homeland and that was the punctuation that Sai Arts wanted to make.
A befitting end to the event was honoring the highly revered senior dance couple Gurus CV Chandrashekar and Jaya Chandrashekar, who were present on both the days and witnessed the performances in its entirety. The dances presented were a mosaic of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak. It ranged from solos to duets, from short crisp renditions to exploring varnams, from recorded music to live orchestra on stage. Dancers exhibited their subtle sensibilities in unhurried meander through varied emotions to unleashing virile energy across dance space and time. A touch of humor there and a drop of tear here made the two days of performances truly enjoyable.
Pooja and Prarthana
Nagaraj & Suparna Venkatesh

The first day of the nrityotsava opened with Bharatanatyam recital by the Thomas sisters Pooja and Prarthana. Senior Guru Sarasa's style and dance interpretation was well displayed in the three crisp and compact renditions. "Mahadeva Shiva Shambho" in Revathi Raga with friezes that resembled temple sculptures, "Bhavayami Gopalam" - a padam set to Yaman Kalyan, that conveyed that however much Krishna's pranks exhaust the Gopis, a glimpse of his face transcends them into a higher consciousness, and the thillana with geometrical movements in space was a befitting beginning.  Suparna and Nagaraj presented four short dance pieces in Kathak. One could see a fine blend of two gharanas, Lucknow and Jaipur in the opening act of Bindadin Maharaj's ashtapadi "Niratata Dhang" in Madhukauns. A Kannada Vachana "Ayya Neenu" performed by Suparna proved that abhinaya still exists in Kathak and language is no bar for an art that is predominantly Hindi. Nagaraj's solo in Tulasidas Bhajan "Sri Ramachandra Krupalu" interspersed with Choupayis from Ramacharitamanas was interesting. They concluded with Tarana in Jhinjooti raga. 

Sathyanarayana Raju
Soundarya Sreevatsa

The third segment of the evening saw Sathyanarayana Raju performing a Varnam "Sri Krishna Kamala Natho." Selected verses from Sri Krishna Karnamrutham formed the body of the dance number. A neat body line in the nrutta was a pleasing contrast to the subtle abhinaya that meandered through the performance. Soundarya Sreevatsa also presented a Varnam "Swamiyai Azhaithodi Vaa" in Navaragamalika. The composition of KN Dandayudhapani Pillai depicting the Virahothkantitha Nayika who seeks the proximity of Lord Shiva, was well presented and the nrutta was well knit into the act without changing the mood of the verse. Sreevatsa rendered the songs, Shakuntala conducted the natuvanga while Mahesh and Lingaraju supported both Sathyanarayana Raju and Soundarya Sreevatsa on flute and mridangam. 

Shweta and Pavan Kumar
Somashekar Choodanath
Madhavi, Kavya, Divya & Sindhu
Nishant and Veena 

Disciples of Suparna Venkatesh displayed an array of Bharatanatyam repertoire. The 10 strong dance ensemble commenced the concluding segment with pushpanjali performed by Shweta and Pavan Kumar, followed by Natesha Kauthvam performed by Veena and Nishant, a nrutta and Thillana by Kavya, Madhavi, Divya,  Shamika, Sindhu and Shweta. The sprightly and energetic performance in "Ananda Natanidum Padam" by Somashekar Choodanath lingered in the minds of the audience as the programmme concluded for the day.

In the first segment of the second day, Pooja and Prarthana performed Kathak. An ode to Shiva the cosmic dancer was performed to the lyrics of Tulasidas and to verses from Sri Adi Shankaracharya's Veda Sara Shiva Sthava. The number was a perfect blend of Shloka, Nrutta and Kavitta. Before concluding with a Tarana in raga Malhar, the sisters displayed a wide range of emotions that two simple women from the hills of Himachal went through, while waiting for the return of their beloved. The "Baramasa" covered the four seasons and the pangs of separation in each of the season. 

Sanjay and Shama
Anuradha Vikranth
Subhashini Vasanth
Rashmi Saralaya

The charming couple Sanjay and Shama effortlessly glided through the Arishadvargas that entice mortals and binds them to karma. The duo very interestingly beaded different situations that the nayaki and nayaka go through in life, and Kuchipudi was the dance style. Anuradha Vikranth rendered Lalgudi Jayaraman's Varnam in Charukeshi raga "Innam yen manam ariyadavar pola." The Virahothkhandita Nayika bhava was well displayed. Subhashini Vasanth, between the opening act of Shiva Stuti "Nagendra Haraya" and concluding Tillana in Mohana Kalyani interspersed a "Pashuram," the chantings of the Vaishanvite Alwars. When Shrungara Bhakthi towards the Lord rises in the hearts of a devotee, gender transcends into a genderless state. The chants of Nammalwar pregnant with divine love was effectively emoted in an unhurried pace by Subhashini.  Rashmi Saralaya gave the concluding performance of the festival with obeisance to Lord Ganesha followed by a devarnama " Govardhanagiridhari."