-  Review 
A perfect fusion  
by Monika Trivedi, Pune 

August 26, 2003 

The fascination of the East by those in the West and vice versa has been an integral part of societal development for centuries. In some cases there have been jarring inconsistencies and in others a perfect blend. The latter was the case in point at “Nrityasangam”, a janmashtami offering by “Antara” dance academy. The dance academy is run Anuradha Jog who has a wonderful ability to detect and nurture talent and is also a skillful choreographer. Anuradha is a disciple of the legendary guru, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna. The performance was a combination of traditional Bharata Natyam along with Italian ballet movements. Giovanna Leva is a well-known ballerina from Milan who is also trained in modern dance and jazz. She has been learning Bharata Natyam under the tutelage of Yamini Krishnamurti.  
It was the creative effort of Giovanna and Anuradha Jog, which finally gave fruition to the janmashtami performance. Certain basic principles of dance exist in both dance forms and these were what formed the basis of the choreography. Both dance forms involve artistes creating rhythmic patterns of movements. It was an amazing show of hand and foot dexterity and how, while movements seem similar, they still retained individuality. The students of “Antara” excelled themselves in adapting to the movements of Giovanna without breaking a stride in their own dance movements. There were students ranging from school going children to college going women.  

Each one of them had exquisite body language and expressive ‘abhinavs’. The performance started with the younger students offering a pushpanjali seeking the blessings of all before the commencement of the dances. In the ‘birth of movements’ Giovanna, dressed in an adapted ballet costume, joined in to show how nature in its myriad forms helped various dance movements to evolve over time. The students of the academy performed a few dances dedicated to Lord Krishna. The ‘varnam’ depicting the two births of the Lord was particularly evocative. Anuradha wove in an element of interest by reciting poems composed in Marathi, narrated to explain the story, to the sounds of ghungroos and the ghatam.  
The piece de resistances were the two performances post interval, the first being the ‘tandava’ which is known to be Lord Shiva’s dance. Giovanna dressed in a Bharata Natyam costume, skillfully wove traditional steps of Bharata Natyam and fused them effortlessly with ballet movements. The ‘Tillana’ was the perfect climax for this awe inspiring performance. The dancers looked like mobile sculptures as they danced, emoted and twirled across the stage. The voice of Anutai’s guru added depth to the dance and the sheer energy and magic of the movements elevated the mind to a surreal level. Giovanna managed to hold her own along with the students and the entire purpose of the fusion came together in a perfect blend in this show stopper. It was an amazing offering by “Antara” to this city on the occasion of ‘janmasthami.’