The stage houses her memory
- Abhirami Rao
Photos courtesy: Sarasalaya
June 24, 2022
Ten years after her passing, K.J. Sarasa's students continue her legacy forward. Fondly referred to and remembered as "Sarasa teacher," her legacy as the torch bearer of the Vazhuvoor bani finds itself growing and evolving through the students of Sarasalaya.
Ramli Ibrahim, A Janardhanan, A Lakshmanaswamy, VP Dhananjayan, Shanmuga Sundaram
Day two of the dance festival Sarasa Natya Mala conducted on June 18 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, bore witness to some of the field's most revered and celebrated male dancers. Shanmuga Sundaram, the artistic director of Sarasalaya, was the first among the gentlemen to perform. Comprising a mallari, the ever-charming Charukesi varnam (Innum En Manam) and a Poorvikalyani keerthanam (Satre Vilagi Irum) - Shanmugam's performance was a tribute to Sarasa teacher's favourite pieces. A. Lakshmanaswamy, also her disciple and the founder of Nrityalakshana, took to stage with Shiva Stuti in Ragamalika and Talamalika. His performance was one of clean lines, artistic nuance and diversity in rhythm, tune and tale.
Cymbals, bells and the sound of the conch shell setting the stage for his piece, founder of Bharatakalanjali, V. P. Dhananjayan, mesmerised the audience with his performance. Presenting Oru Neramenkilum in praise of Lord Guruvaayurappan (Dwijawanti ragam, adi talam) and Senjilavanan (a depiction of the Kanditha Nayaka in Tamizh), the thespian stalwart's performance was a pleasure to witness and awe-inspiring for young dancers present in the audience.
The evening of celebrating art and artistes found closure with Prof. A. Janardhanan's performance, soaked in love. "It is her, the one that strung my heart in place, it is her who pierces my living moments today," sang Varigathuyar nadan, a padam in ragam Abheri, talam adi, wonderfully depicted by Janardhanan's abhinaya. The piece served as a metaphor for the evening - an ode to love - a candle that brings light and warmth to one's heart, soaked in the ambivalence of happiness and sadness that love can house at the same time.
Adding texture and melody to the performances, Shanmugam and Lakshmanaswamy were accompanied by Girija Ramaswami (vocal), M. Dhananjayan (mridangam), M.S. Kannan (violin), R. Thyagarajan (flute) with the nattuvangam shared by Sudharma and Sukanya. Natyacharya Dhananjayan was joined by Vijeesh (vocal) and Shanta Dhananjayan (nattuvangam) along with the previous accompanying artistes. Ramli Ibrahim and A. Janardhanan used recorded music.
K.J. Sarasa's legacy and love for dance was housed with fond remembrance and performances that exemplified artistry - memories that will carry forward for generations to come.
A writer, producer and performer, Abhirami Rao ties together creative pursuits in her journey to explore culture, expression and art.