Photos: Amba Studios, Mangalore

September 15, 2014

It was the last weekend of August when the city of Mangalore witnessed an amalgamation of classical dancers from various parts of India, who had come together to experience the finer nuances of Bharatanatyam and enhance their respective repertoire. Nrityaangan organised the first edition of the annual event Manthana on the 22nd, 23rd and the 24th of August 2014. Manthana, true to its name, was an attempt to bring together experienced dancers from all parts of the country and bring out the best in them. The event was in a sense, a first of its kind in Mangalore, where there was a performance by three young upcoming artistes on the first day, followed by a 2-day workshop by a renowned exponent in the field.

According to Radhika Shetty, Creative Director at Nrityaangan, she wanted to provide an opportunity to young upcoming artistes through her organisation as well as provide an opportunity to the disciples of Bharatanatyam to come together and learn from the achievers themselves. Radhika intends to make this an annual event since she believes that this will benefit everyone who takes part in it.

Tejaswini, Madhuvanthi, Dakshina

This year’s Manthana was lit up by the presence of acclaimed Bharatanatyam exponent Rama Vaidyanathan, who inaugurated the event on 22nd August and congratulated Nrityaangan for their efforts in promoting the arts in the region. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of varied styles of Bharatanatyam by three young dancers.

Madhuvanthi Muliya, a disciple of Vanishree Ravishankar, is an upcoming dancer from Chennai. She commenced her recital with a Ganesha stuti, went on to perform a composition on Andal and culminated her recital with a shloka. Exuding confidence on the stage, Madhuvanthi kept the audience captivated.

Dakshina Vaidyanathan was the next to perform and she began with the Ardhanaareswara Ashtakam, where she depicted the union of creation (srishti) and desolation, in a very creative presentation. Dakshina continued to wow the audience with her abhinaya. The thillana called ‘Rain’ was the icing on the cake, which depicted the transformation of rain from water and the beauty of the rain itself and the happiness that it brings along. By the end of her 45-minute performance, Dakshina had etched a place in the audience’s hearts, and had created a new fan following in Mangalore.

The final performance of the day was by Tejaswini Bhaskar, a young dancer from nearby Puttur, who now faced a challenge to keep up with the high standards set by Dakshina’s near flawless performance. Tejaswini did not disappoint, and went on to perform an Alaripu in trisra triputa tala – the invocation piece set in a rare tala unlike traditional range. Her guru Deepak Kumar led the orchestra ensemble on the nattuvangam. Keeping with the flow, she performed a varnam in praise of Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram, with great panache and ease. The day’s performance culminated in a thillana, which described Krishna's beauty and the majestic Kalinga mardana. Tejaswini made her mark with an impressive performance, and made the Mangalorean audience proud that a home grown talent like her could match up with national level artistes. Rama Vaidyanathan herself had words of appreciation for her at the end of the event.

The next two days of Manthana were dedicated to learning of the finer nuances of Bharatanatyam. It was a rare opportunity for the 45 dancers across the country to interact, learn and enhance their craft, with guidance from the diva herself. Rama Vaidyanathan, who considers herself a seeker more than a dancer, shared a part of her knowledge and experience with the ever-enthusiastic participants. Rama’s daughter Dakshina assisted her by demonstrating the steps to the participants.  At the end of the 2-day workshop, there was this bunch of delighted and inspired dancers who were looking to make a difference on their own and make a mark for themselves in the field.

The organising team at Nrityaangan were a satisfied lot, at having successfully managed an event of this scale perhaps for the first time. Manthana was a small step for the dancers of Mangalore, but a giant leap for Nrityaangan. We hope that Nrityaangan will bring us more such opportunities to interact with the best in the field of performing arts.