Rangoliís sparkling Gestures
Photos: Gene Lewis

July 15, 2014

Malathi Iyengar, Artistic Director, Rangoli Foundation of Art and Culture, has been known for her innovative explorations in Bharatanatyam when envisioning a Rangoli program. This time on the stage of Electric Lodge on June 28 at Venice, California, her program titled Gestures offered the work of her dancers in an amalgam of traditional vocabulary. 

Lakshmi Iyengar
The wide ranging palette began with two pieces in honor of Lord Ganesha. The Rangoli dancers were at their finest in the Devi Navarasa Varnam, the brilliant composition by Lalgudi Jayaraman. This was followed by a scintillating thillana ending in a sublime mangalam as a benediction. The program showcased the dancerís commitment and hard work over the past year. It was an alluring mix of technique, rigorous discipline, emotions, simultaneously subtle and bold choreography. Iyengar is a master at using space and form. Special mention must be made of Lakshmi Iyengar who always articulates an evocative lyrical nuance to her lightning footwork, finesse and elegance.

Gracing the stage were the brightly dressed dancers of Rangoli who told stories of faith, worship, homage, and used their movements to give a spiritual beat and joyfulness to the dance. With the dedicated and inspired training by Iyengar, Sanam Chalan, Abhijnya Gowder, Ritika Iyer, Amiya Prasad, Anya Prasad, and Sarayu Ramanan gave lustrous performances showcasing excellent footwork and the richness and vitality of Bharatanatyam. The inspiration for the dances was the music of Muthuswami Dikshithar, Oothukadu Venkata Kavi, Lalgudi Jayaraman and Rajkumar Bharati.

At the end of the program, dance guru Viji Prakash, the visionary pioneer who opened the first school of Bharatanatyam in Los Angeles, was honored as well as her daughter Mythili Prakash, an internationally acclaimed dancer. Professor Judy Mitoma of UCLA, Amy Kaitlin (Ethnomusicologist UCLA), Elizabeth Kurien, Prem and Anuradha Kishore Ganpati were also acknowledged for their contributions to the world of art and culture. The offering of flowers to these artists, professors and communicators stressed the joy of community and the bridges between countries through dance and music.                                       

Lighting design by the gifted Eileen Cooley showcased the dancersí beauty of form while the colors and simplicity of design was coordinated by Lakshmi Iyengar. Set design consisting of the stark simplicity and drama of Lord Ganesha was the work of Suresh Iyengar.