In praise of the Lord of Dance
- Vijay Shanker, Mumbai

February 27, 2012

On the occasion of Mahasivaratri, dancers from in and around Mumbai were performing at different venues, the most notable being the Natyanjali Festival wherein several dancers paid their tributes to Lord Nataraja with a brief performance of possibly only five minutes. The festival was organised by Shanmukhapriya, the cultural wing of the Subramanya Temple in Chedda Nagar in Chembur. The soul behind the whole festival is Guru Jayashree Nair of Upasana Dance Academy. Jayashree said, “This is a rare occasion for all the gurus to come together and perform for the Lord. This year we are lucky to have renowned Manipuri exponent Darshana Jhaveri to take the lead.”

Prachi Saathi

The dance teachers who performed were Darshana Jhaveri (Manipuri), Dr. Malati Agniswaran, Revathi Srinivasaraghavan, Lata Raman, Lata Surendra, Mamata Biswas from New Panvel, Jyothi Mohan, Geeta Ganesan from Hyderabad, Jayashree Rao, Sushama Gopinath (Mohiniattam), Sugandhi Subramaniam from Thane, Ranjani G Ramesh, Archita Mehta, Mallika, Sanjeev Bhattacharya (Manipuri, New Delhi), Vinita Sreenandan, Viswambara, Nivedita Mukherjee (Odissi), Mansi Deshpande (Kathak) and Pavitra Bhat, the most lively male dancer of the festival. While Bharatanatyam dominated with abhinaya numbers pertaining to Shivashtakam and the popular Shankaracharya's Pancha Akshara Shlokam “Nama Shivaya,” some dancers cleverly combined the pure dance with expressions, like Lata Surendra. She performed the alarippu interspersed with the slokam in an innovative manner that was well appreciated by the packed audience in the temple premises. The dancer who created a lasting impression with her abhinaya was Geeta Ganesan from Hyderabad. A few dancers performed numbers portraying Lord Krishna, the most elegant dancer being Sanjeev Bhattacharya in the Manipuri style.

One of the youngest dancers to dance in the festival, prior to Mahasivaratri, was Prachi Saathi. Prachi is incidentally the ardent disciple of Guru Lata Raman of Nrityasudha Fine Arts and is quite a spontaneous dancer, creating waves in the cultural scenario of Mumbai. Prachi performed the rare Papanasha Mudaliar padam and the Maharaja Swati Tirunal Hindi bhajan “Visweswar darshan kar” wherein the devotee seeks the darshan of the lord. While Prachi is natural in her expressions, she is at the same time quite commendable in the execution of rhythmic patterns too.

‘Om Sarvam Shivamayam’ dance drama was presented by Dr. Sandhya Purecha and the dancers from Sarfojiraja Bhosale Centre at the Ravindra Natya Mandir on 21st February, supported by the ministry of culture, Government of India. Music was composed by Parikshit Bhatkande. Portraying the glory and the magnificence of Lord Shiva, the production projected different episodes like Neelakanta Shiva, Sati Balidan, Parvati Parinaya, Ganesh Utpati, Tripurasura Vadha, Yamantaka Shiva, Ardhanarishwara, Sati-Shiva Vivaha, Kamdev Dahan, Kartikeya Janma, Ganga Avataranam, Andhaka - the third son, Hari Hara and ultimately Nataraja Shiva. It was a wonderful spectacle to witness the dramatisation of various episodes of the Lord with brilliant team work. The dancer as Lord Shiva was befitting. Sandhya Purecha is among the most prosperous dancers today in the city with several performances by her and her students throughout the year.