Yuva Bharati’s ‘Sankeertana’
- Shivani Chandrashekaran

March 9, 2014

On January 25, 2014 at the Mission Center of Performing Arts in Santa Clara, Yuva Bharati presented Sankeertana, a tribute to Annamacharya and Purandaradasa, featuring four prominent Bay Area Bharatanatyam artists and teachers: Sreelata Suresh, Sugandha Sreenath, Vidhya Subramanian and Jayanthi Sridharan. The performance highlighted each dancer’s unique style by interweaving dazzling individual items with group choreographies. The artists began the event with a joint Pushpanjali, a traditional offering by the dancers to the almighty.  This item was  followed by Sharanu Siddhi Vinayaka, an item in praise of the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvathi and remover of obstacles, which featured the different formations and coordination of the dancers.  

Shreelata Suresh, director of Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy, performed Chandra Chooda.  Composed by Saint Purandaradasa, this item praises Lord Shiva as the blue necked one who wears the moon on his head and drank the poison. She later opened the second half of the performance with Namo Namo Raghukula Nayaka, an item that offered salutations to the hero of the Sun dynasty, Lord Rama, who destroyed Ravana and protected righteousness. Her graceful movements and poses as well as intricate footwork made these items very enjoyable. 

Vidhya Subramanian is the founder of Lasya Dance Company, where she teaches the traditional Vazhuvoor style of Bharatanatyam. She performed Muddugare Yashoda, her own choreography, which extols the beauty of Lord Krishna and describes his various heroic deeds. Jagadodharana composed by Saint Purandaradasa, depicts the relationship between Yashoda and her beloved son Krishna. Both these items were made exciting by her exceptional facial expressions and realistic portrayals of characters.

Jayanthi Sridharan, founder of Bharathakala Kutiram in San Jose, performed Mangambudhi Hanumantha, an item composed by Annamacharya which depicts the greatness of Lord Hanuman through his many actions and virtues. Her unique choreography brought these tales to life. She also performed Jaganmohanane Krishna, choreographed by Krishnaveni Lakshman.  Through engaging expressions, she described the incomparable Lord Vishnu’s many avatarams and highlighted the Vamana avatar that let Lord Vishnu curb the excessive pride of Lord Mahabali.

Suganda Sreenath, founder and artistic director of Jayendra Kalakendra, performed Bhavayami, a choreography of her gurus Shantha and VP Dhananjayan. In this item, the devotee meditates upon the feet of baby Gopala and describes his shining belt as well as the bells that ring when he dances or plays. She also performed Alarulu, an original choreography that praises the beauty of goddess Alamelumanga through graceful and rhythmic movements. Suganda Sreenath finished with Yashode Amma, an item in which Saint Purandaradasa depicts the many antics of little Krishna and expresses his desire to be in Yashoda’s place just once to hug little Krishna.  Her facial expressions as Yashoda as well as little Krishna captivated the attention of the audience.

Finally, all four artists concluded the performance with a scintillating thillana in Bowli ragam that they choreographed themselves. This thillana was in praise of the great poets showcased in the performance, Saint Annamacharya and Saint Purandaradasa. The entire performance was accompanied by an exceptional live orchestra with Sindhu Natarajan on vocal, Dr. Rohan Krishnamurthy on the mridangam, Krishna Parthasarathy on the violin, Ashwin Krishnakumar on the flute, and Sowmya Sridharan on the nattuvangam.  Radhika Shankar, another well-known dancer in the Bay Area, was the announcer for the evening. The performance by these four celebrated Bay Area artists and teachers was truly entertaining and was well received by the Bay Area, as the event was sold out and people even stood in the back of the theater to watch this enjoyable show.