Shanthala Arts Academy celebrates silver jubilee
- Santhalakshmi, Bangalore

August 13, 2010

Well wishers, families, friends, artists and art connoisseurs flooded the auditorium as Shantala Arts Trust celebrated its silver jubilee in Bangalore with a three-day dance festival from June 16 to 18. A variety of dance recitals - Kathak, Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Jugalbandi - were held in the current festival. Apart from regular training to students in Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music, dance theory and nattuvangam, the trust conducts dance festivals regularly, presents awards to senior artistes and holds workshops for young aspirants.

The festival was inaugurated at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall by Mathoor Krishnamurthy and presided by Mysore Subramanya. Vani Ganapathi gave a brief inaugural program with an invocatory piece, a composition of Oothukadu, and a thillana. A piece from Pasuram was followed by "Jaya Jaya Narayana" in ragamalika, which had an attractive lilt. Instead of a varna, Vani chose a composition of Oothukadu Venkatasubba Iyer. With its dramatic overtones, it was pleasing with popular appeal. The concluding thillana was a fine composition of GN Balasubramanian.

Prasanna Kasthuri and Shila Mehta presented a Bharatanatyam and Kathak Jugalbandi. Prasanna, who is also the founder of Shanthala Arts Academy, is originally from Bangalore and at present is the director of Soorya Performing Arts, St Louis, USA. Shila is a senior Kathak dancer from Mumbai. Prasanna and Shila opened their Jugalbandi with 'Pushpanjali' and 'Sabhavandan' in which they also offered prayer to Vishnu. Prasanna chose a Varna in the raga Natakuranji, with Narasimha Avatara in the 'sanchari'. He performed with ease and aplomb. Shila then took up the purely rhythmic part in Teen taal where she danced to various permutations of rhythm and recitation of bols with footwork. The duo chose a thumri and a devaranama and followed with a thillana.

Day 2

Venkatesha Natya Mandira
Two of the city's oldest dance schools regaled the audiences with their captivating dances. Venkatesha Natya Mandira, a well known dance school of Bangalore, began the evening's performance. The students trained under Guru Radha Shridhar performed with ease and the excellent group choreography made for a lively performance. In "Mathe malaya dhwaja pandya sanjaathey," the dancers demonstrated their technical and abhinaya finesse while performing the story of Mahishasura Mardhini.

Lalitha Srinivasan's Nupura dance group presented Lasyotsava, a story on the sculptures of Belur temples of the Hoysala dynasty based on the poems of Kannada poet D V Gundappa. The well trained dancers brought the sculptures to life, as the musicians performed the tunes of the dance drama set almost 3 decades ago by the Guru.

Day 3

Sri Chakra
Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
The final day began with an electrifying performance of ‘Sri Chakra’ by the Shanthala Dance Ensemble. Led by Sushma Mohan, US returned dancer-choreographer, the dancers explored the aavaranas or mandalas of the Sri Chakra. With a description to each chakra and a variety of movement, Sri Chakra impressed the audience with its spectacular group patterns and choreography.

The Nrityagram dancers, who took over the stage next, mesmerized the audience with their extremely chiseled body technique and sculpture like poses. Surupa Sen, Bijayini Sathpathy and Pavithra Reddy proved that dance is indeed a Natya Yoga.

Lalitha Srinivasan, the gurus of Pulikeshi and Prasanna, was felicitated on this occasion. Narsimhalu Vadavatti, President of the Karnataka Sangeetha Nrutya Academy, who was the chief guest for the evening, lauded the efforts of the organizers in putting up such a mega event.

Honoring Guru Lalitha Srinivasan
The festival was funded by the Department of Kannada and Culture, Soorya Performing Arts, St.Louis, and private donors. When asked about the future plans of the academy, Pulikeshi Kasturi, the artistic director and the curator of the festival, exclaimed that he is eager to present a platform to as many artists as possible in the coming years.