Swagatham Krishna - an Ode to Krishna 
- Shyla Ganesan, AZ 
e-mail: shygan@gmail.com

March 17, 2010

Silambam, Phoenix, an alliance of Shree Bharatalaya, Chennai, kicked off its 10th year celebration with a blissful performance titled Swagatham Krishna, at Chandler Centre for Arts on 17th January 2010. The director of Silambam Phoenix, Srimathy Mohan, is a senior disciple of Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy of Shree Bharatalaya. Srimathy founded her dance school in 2000 and has staged two major productions with her students - Margam in 2004 and Skandam in 2006 - in Phoenix.

Swagatham Krishna, as the name suggests, was an ode to Lord Krishna. Srimathy's students presented various dances of Krishna starting with the famous Dasavataram by Jayadeva. The neat entrance and exits by the dancers and the crisp expressions and portrayal of the ten incarnations of Vishnu caught the audience's appreciation. This was followed by a Tamizh thallatu, Kanne en Kanmaniye, where the young Krishna is cajoled to eat and coaxed to sleep by his mother. Srimathy's portrayal of feeding Krishna by pointing to the moon, definitely touched the hearts of all the parents and parents-to-be in the audience. The young Krishna's expressions of being angry with his mother and running to hug her were heart warming. 

Swagatham Krishna, a composition by Oothukaadu Venkatasubbaiyer was next. This was presented by Srimathy's senior students who vividly described the stories like Krishna dancing on the snake Kalinga and Krishna destroying asuras and blessing everyone. This was followed by a neat music piece where the young Krishna is seen dancing with the gopis and gopikas. The music in ragam Brindhavanasaranga, brought out the jubilant mood of the young kids enjoying playing with Krishna. Again the angashuddham of the dancers definitely need to be commended. 

Govardhana Giridhara, a popular tharangam by Narayanatheertha, introduced the entrance of the older Krishna where he protected the people of Gokulam from the heavy rains by lifting the Govardhana Mountain. This was followed by a feet tapping piece, the Rasleela, where Krishna was seen dancing merrily with the gopis. This was a masterpiece choreography by Guru Sudharani Raghupathy. The costumes and tempo of this dance got the audience's attention. Srimathy then depicted Radha who was patiently waiting for Krishna, in Jayadeva's Ashtapadhi, Yahi Madhava. Radha's accusations and Krishna's explanations were realistically portrayed by Srimathy.

Baro Krishnaiya, a Kannada padam by Kanakadasa, was ably presented by Srimathy's senior students Shreya Udupa, Vallari Somayaji and Sindhu Rajan. The short and sweet portrayal of Krishna giving his blessings to Kanakadasa at the Udupi temple was very moving indeed. This was followed by the famous Meera Bhajan 'Hari tum haro' by Prithvi Mohan. The use of lighting enhanced the presentation of this piece. While Meera danced in the center, groups of dancers, quickly brought in flashes of the Draupadi vastrabharanam, Narasimha avataram, and Gajendra moksham episodes under very effective spotlights. 

A thillana in ragam Hamsanadham on Lord Krishna and the depiction of a temple procession of Lord Krishna with the Azhvar Pasuram Pallandu Pallandu danced by  Srimathy Mohan with all her students were a befitting finale to the evening. The two narrators portraying a mother and son - Maya and Vishnu - led us ably through the entire evening. The usage of pre-recorded narration with short and sweet descriptions of each dance was executed well by both narrators. 

To produce a 2 hour dance recital with such ease and perfection is definitely not an easy task. Kudos to the Guru and the entire Silambam team for making it happen. Wishing Silambam Phoenix, a wonderful 10th year and hoping to see more productions from the school in the near future. 

Shyla Ganesan is a Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher in Arizona, USA.