Mohana Krishna charms the audience
- Sukanya Rajagopal

October 4, 2010

Mohana Krishna, a dance production by Atlanta based dance school, Natyanjali Academy of Dance, was performed at Ferst Center for the Arts on August 28, 2010. The event was a fundraiser for the Atlanta Chapter of Asha for Education, under the leadership of Senthil Ramamurthy, in support of basic education of underprivileged children in India. Johns Creek Mayor, Mike Bodker, was very gracious to send a congratulatory letter on the occasion to Chandrika Chandran, the producer/director of the dance show. The inspiring inaugural speech by Georgia State Representative Mike Glanton, set the tone for the evening. Right from the invocatory items, the dancers set precedence to what was to come and it was sheer beauty and expert coordination in executing the fast tempo and the diverse movements.

The portrayal of the mischievous little Krishna by Smriti Suresh, a charming adolescent Krishna by Nisha Chandran, the enchanting Goddess Lakshmi by Pallavi Sastry, the evil serpent Kaliya by Malvika Raj and the confused Arjuna by Nandita Rajshekhar were picture perfect and reminded one of the characters in Ravi Varma's paintings. Chandrika proved her understanding of the art form by her wonderful portrayals in various key roles such as the divine mother Yasodha, Krishna's lover Radha and the saint-poetess Andal. The supporting dancers not only exhibited good command over the technique of Bharatanatyam, but also filled in appropriately in a variety of other roles.

Chandrika Chandran
scene from the dance drama
The soulful abhinaya and the perfectly executed nritta demonstrated by the performers reminded the audience of the illustrious Guru parampara of Chandran, passed on to her by Gurus Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai and Swamimalai K Rajarathnam. One also appreciated the choreography skills of Revathi Ramachandran of Kala Sadhanalaya, Chennai. The audience felt her presence, 12,000 miles away here in the USA, by the sheer quality of her music, her finesse in wielding the cymbals and her crisp jathi utterances.

"Choreography has the challenging task of interpreting ritualistic text written thousands of years ago, capturing its essence and then presenting it in a format suited for today's audience," said Chandrika Chandran. "Indian art forms are the best gateway to Indian culture. These dancers have made an active commitment to integrate this culture into their otherwise American lives."

The innumerable hours spent on stage design, the expertise in lighting by Dr. Raktim Sen and able backstage coordination by Kanaka Sathasivan and others were amply evident in the smooth transitions between scenes, timely costume changes and the ambiance on stage. Master of Ceremonies, Kumar Kantheti, narrated the scenes and kept the audience well informed of what was to come. The grand finale of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi on the custom designed serpent bed with the devotees standing around, transported one on a magic carpet back to Srirangam, India.

"The production was a lot of work," said dancer Pallavi Sastry, a student at University of North Carolina. "But it is all worth it when you get a standing ovation and it makes you realize how proud you are of being able to share a piece of your culture with the community." It was hard to believe that such an impact is even possible to achieve by a group of 14 locally groomed amateur artistes, ranging in age from only 10 years to 22 years. All in all, Mohana Krishna was a befitting tribute to mark the birth of Krishna, celebrated as Janmashtami around the world.