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Amritanjali Festival: A magical evening of spellbinding performances
- Gayatri Vinod

May 5, 2024

Amritanjali Festival of Classical Dance ended on a terrific note in Pune on 7th of April. Punekars got to witness three spell-binding Bharatanatyam performances by highly accomplished artistes. Dr. Shashikala Ravi, the convenor, coordinator and curator of the festival, organizes the Amritanjali Festival each year in the state-of-art, Amritanjali Dance Studio in Viman Nagar. Dr. Ravi is herself a highly accomplished Bharatanatyam artiste trained under legendary Gurus, who besides being a performing artiste, a Guru and a choreographer, is deep into propagating and promoting Bharatanatyam and other classical dance forms of Bharat. Every year she invites renowned artistes and Gurus to conduct workshops and perform at the Amritanjali Festival. Besides this, Dr. Ravi also provides a platform to upcoming young talents of all classical dance forms by hosting Amritanjali Nrityotsava, which is held in November.

Amritanjali Festival - Roja Kannan
Roja Kannan

This time she had organized a two day Bharatanatyam workshop by Roja Kannan from Chennai on 5th and 6th of April which was attended by a large number of dancers from Pune. Roja Kannan taught two abhinaya Padams choreographed by Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan, to the enthusiastic learners. The first Padam was Idai vida innum vere vendumo sakshi in ragam Saveri set to rupaka talam, a composition of Dharmapuri Subbarama Iyer depicting a khandita nayika. The other Padam was a beautiful composition Yenna naan seiduvitten in Ragamalika set to misra chapu talam depicting little Krishna's reaction when he is caught red handed by the Gopika while stealing butter. Roja Kannan brought alive Kalanidhi Mami's brilliant choreographies through her lucid explanations and vivid demonstrations. Her senior disciple Sahana Selvaganesh assisted her Guru with teaching during the workshop.

The festival performances on 7th April began with Dr. Shashikala Ravi welcoming the chief guest Guru Shama Bhate, the guest invitees and audience. The hall was jam packed and stayed so throughout the three hours of performances.

Amritanjali Festival - Shashikala Ravi
Shashikala Ravi

The performances commenced with Shashikala Ravi presenting an exploration of the Divine Mother of the Universe who is the all-pervading feminine energy. The expertise with which she handled her presentation left the audience enthralled. The various attributes of the Divine Mother as the creator, preserver and destroyer, her manifestations as Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, her unparalleled beauty in the three worlds, her role as the bestower of happiness, were all excellently choreographed and presented through two soulful compositions of Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna - a Tana Varnam Amma Ananda Dayini in ragam Gambheera Nattai set to adi talam and a keertanam Omkarakarini in ragam Lavangi set to adi talam. Shashikala Ravi's elaborate abhinaya portraying the Divine Mother combined with flawless footwork in jathis and korvais won everyone's hearts.

Amritanjali Festival - Roja Kannan
Roja Kannan
Amritanjali Festival - Sahana Selvaganesh
Sahana Selvaganesh

This was followed by superb performances by Roja Kannan and her disciple Sahana Selvaganesh, presenting Magic of Margam. Sahana gave a brisk start to the recital with Nandi Chol followed by Siva Dhyanam in ragam Vasantha set to adi talam (tisra nadai) brilliantly composed and choreographed by Guru Adyar K. Lakshman and Trichur P. Ramanathan. Next, Roja Kannan kept the audience spellbound with her intense abhinaya in the Padavarnam Mohamana in ragam Bhairavi set to rupaka talam, choreographed by Guru Adyar K. Lakshman. The recital ended with Arivenaiyya (ragam Atana, talam rupakam) and Sakhi Prana (ragam Chenchuruti) both of which were beautifully presented by Sahana Selvaganesh (who handled a khandita nayika) and Roja Kannan (who expertly handled a virahotkhandita nayika) respectively. Both are compositions of Dharmapuri Subbarama Iyer, choreographed by Kalanidhi Narayanan.

Amritanjali Festival - Arundhati Patwardhan, Sagarika Patwardhan, Sucheta Chapekar
Arundhati Patwardhan, Sagarika Patwardhan, Sucheta Chapekar

The grand finale came from the presentation of Parampara by Guru Sucheta Bhide Chapekar, her daughter disciple Arundhati Patwardhan and granddaughter Sagarika Patwardhan. They presented some enthralling items together. In Sangati Khote, in raag Tilland set to Keherva, they beautifully portrayed a complaining Gopika, a naughty Krishna denying stealing of butter and a loving mother Yashoda who believes her son rather than the Gopika. The Panchajati Alarippu set to tala tisra triputa gave a traditional and appealing start to their recital. The Shiva Stuti, Shankar Teri Jataame bringing out the various attributes of Lord Shiva presented by Arundhati and Sagarika Patwardhan stood out with vigorous tandava movements executed in perfect coordination. The festival ended with a Bhajan, Hey Prabho set in raga Bhairavi in Bhajni Theka performed by Guru Sucheta Chapekar, closing the curtains on a soothing, peaceful and a blissful note.

It was truly a magical evening. Hats off to Shashikala Ravi for enthralling the Pune audience with such spellbinding Bharatanatyam performances.

Gayatri Vinod learnt Bharatanatyam for 8 years in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, under Guru Pattabhi Sridhar.

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