Bharatheeyam 2011
- Padma Jayaraj, Thrissur
Photos courtesy: Kalabharathi Foundation

May 7, 2011

The World Dance Day was celebrated as Bharatheeyam 2011 in Thrissur. Organized by Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi and Kalabharathi and supported by the Calicut University Union, the one and half hour ballet showcased an upsurge of youth. Kalabharathi is a venture that has sprouted from college campuses. Tired of unhealthy competitions, the organization is trying to discover and promote talented artistes in dance and music as they pursue academics as parallel stream. The 10 girls in their teens that have teamed up to dance are top scorers in youth festivals; their Guru RLV Anand is a familiar choreographer in such venues.

April 29th was declared as the World Dance Day by UNESCO and International Dance Council in remembrance of Jean Georges Noverre. Here the ballet is a tribute to the Tamil poet, philosopher and freedom fighter, Subramania Bhartiyar. Three pieces set in ragamalika and talamalika was a beautiful composition with a relevant message. And it proved to be a serenade as the news to ban Endosulfan filtered proclaiming the victory of humanity.

Bharatheeyam began with pure dance, nritta in Bharatanatyam format with Mallari, an unusual item with traditional flavor. Gods and goddesses are brought out ceremoniously in religious processions. Here, Bharata Mata is conceived as the divine entity who is introduced as a reigning deity. It was exhilarating to watch such a vision, abstract and symbolic in our troubled times of religious strife. Bharthiyar, the visionary poet, was thus evoked through the persona of Bharata Mata in a spirited quick moving dance recital.

The focus of the entire piece was the famous poem of Bharatiyar, "Agni Kunjondru Kanden." Anand and his wife Kalamandalam Jaya enacted while the team performed as a chorus in a drama. Nature in all her glory is seen in the wild and all animated beings rejoice. Life is a symphony of music, dance, beauty, love and creation. But then the couple spies a spark ..... a hidden spark somewhere buried deep within the heart of the wilderness. And lo, in no time, the spark blazes .....rages.... and flames consume everything, leaving just ashes everywhere: destruction!
"Does it matter whether it is a spark or a flame ....?" The question reverberates as the vocalist's booming voice resounded in the auditorium in a refrain. But Nature has her own panacea. In the trail of destruction, a million dewdrops fall to bring life anew. Leaves sprout and flowers bloom: life is born again with spring, life like the mythical bird Phoenix, far more beautiful. Then fall summer showers: clouds gather, there is the rumbling of thunder, lightning flashes. Rain drops trickle down; rivulets flow to make brooks; streams swell into rivers. The cycle of life blooms, making rivers full and animated life joyous. But again the summer showers grow into torrential rains, flooding rivers, destroy life and civilization in its march. Man stands a hapless victim and a witness to the eternal riddle of life and death.

The finale highlights the message "Bharatha Samudayam Vaazhka...." - Long live the Indian society. The song echoes loud and clear. Reminiscent of the spirited marching song of the days of freedom struggle, the dance stirs up the idealism and the aspirations of the youth - the youth, the future and the dream of Bharath. Nritta and nritya combine to inspire our dulled spirits in these days of murky politics of divisiveness. The young standing around Bharatha Mata taking an oath to stand united to counter destructive forces remains etched like a tableaux. And the theme is rounded of aesthetically.

The dance recital idealistic in concept, brilliant in choreography, inspirational in rendering, showcased an upsurge of youth. It had the freshness of life in a college campus. Lack of synchronization at times was the only blemish. The outstanding artistes and an orchestra of talented artistes led by vocalist Arun Gopinath, Aparna B Marar (nattuvangam), Kalamandalam Kiran Gopinath (mridangam) , Murali Narayanan (flute), Murali Krishnan Naka (veena), Vadasseri Sivadasan (nadaswaram) created a sublime experience for the audience.

Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to