Sai Nrutyotsava - Series 8
- Mysore B Nagaraj, Bangalore

January 7, 2010 

By the time the winter sun set on the first day of the new year, Seva Sadan Auditorium in Malleshwaram, Bangalore, was packed to the last available seat to witness the first classical dance concert of the Gregorian year in the metro city. Sai Nrutyotsava stepped into its series eight, celebrating Indian dance. Sai Arts International fulfilled its undertaking of making available platforms to deserving upcoming dancers, assignment of providing space for the evolved ones to experiment their concepts, mission of offering the connoisseurs an evening to soak into the soulful performances of the masters. This string witnessed four Bharatanatyam and one Mohiniattam presentation.

Anjali Shrikanth, Arushi Nagaraj and Gopala Krishna, disciples of Sanjay Shantaram and Shama Sanjay, commenced the first segment of the festival with an invocatory number, danced to Adi tala, addressing Lord Ganesha. The use of Raga Bouli to offer obeisance to Soorya and extolling the virtues of dance through shlokas from the Natya Shastra, warmed up the stage. Sajini, also from the portals of Sanjay and Shama’s school of dance, performed an abhinaya number "Shendru Varuvein Yendru," depicting a young woman, who remained bashful in the presence of her husband, and now longs for his return. The trio who gave the Pushpanjali concluded their presentation with a Thillana in Raga Sumanesharanjani. While the three exhibited crispness and confidence, Sajini missed out on the shyness of the nayika.

Geneva born, trained by her mother/guru Sujatha Venkatesh, Divya Venkatesh opened her recital with an ode to the Sun God.  Sooryashtakam extolled His attributes, His brilliance that lights up the worlds, His radiance that casts away the darkness of ignorance. The salutation was danced to the shlokas rendered in poetic recitation, interspersed with virile nritta signifying his profound energy.  Saint Tyagaraja bowed to Shankara, who is the embodiment of Nada, who delights in the musical notes, who commands even "Kaala" the time, in his composition "Nada Tanumanisham" in Chittaranjani raga, to which Divya danced with intense involvement. Her control over the laya, her precise geometrical movement across the space in her Thillana that praised Lord Krishna, was indeed a delight. 

Shweta Venkatesh, a lively teen, whose eyes sparkled with a passion towards the hoary art of Indian dance, offered pranams to mother earth, who is Lakshmi herself and sought her pardon for every footstep that she struck her with, when she danced. Her Pushpamanjari also offered her Namana to Ganapathy as the guardian of the stage, to Shiva the cosmic dancer and to Saraswathi at whose feet one seeks knowledge. The nritta Jatiswaram in raga Kalyani was presented with movements that flowed effortlessly. The Thillana in Desh raga, Khandatriputa tala was mercurial.

Trained under Guru Prakash Yadagudde in UK at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sita Pratap sought the blessings of Lord Ganesha in her opening act in Raga Gambheera Nattai-Khandachapu tala before she rendered a Muthuswamy Dikshitar's composition "Hiranmayim Lakshmim." A javali in Kannada "Sako Ninna Sneha" was her concluding number. For Sita, her smile was the only asset that the prekshaka could notice.


The finale of the evening was truly a grand one. Bereft of nritta exuding high energy, keeping aside classic acrobatics, Houston-Mumbai based Sunanda Nair took the audience into her world of emotions. After a short perfunctionary prayer to Ganesha, she dived straight and deep into the eight classic situations in love. Her translations of Bharatamuni's description of the state of mind of Ashta Nayikas, into movement and expressions left the audience spellbound. Her instant transition from one emotion to another was transcending. In fact with each bhava, she evoked the corresponding rasas in the hearts of the onlookers. Her abhinaya, while she meandered through Radha's sublime feelings for Krishna, justified her Guru Dr. Kanaka Rele's choreography and interpretation of Jayadeva. Display through the medium of dance, the spiritual intercourse between Radha and Krishna, Atma and the Paramathma, was truly awe-inspiring. Sunanda Nair's Mohiniattam, the dance of the enchantress, was nothing less than enchanting. 

Mysore B Nagaraj is the Artistic Director of Articulate, that promotes performing arts and takes social responsibility of the visually challenged