Kalasrishti's 3rd Annual School Day 
- Jayanthi Balachandran, NC
e-mail: jay.b@earthlink.net 

June 9, 2005 

A memorable and pleasant evening of Bharatanatyam was staged by Kalasrishti School of Performing Arts, whose Artistic Director Meena Rajagopal, is one of Alarmel Valli's foremost disciples. Her program commenced with the customary invocation songs in praise of Lord Vinayaka and Goddess Saraswathi.

The novices of the school presented the theory of dance in accordance with a live vocal rendition by Mathangi Shankar and Renganath Rajaram, describing the various head movements and hand gestures to a packed audience at the PSI Theater, Durham Arts Council, North Carolina. Following this was a presentation of the traditional Alarippu in beats of seven, performed to perfection by three of the school's senior dancers.

Crosswinds was the next item to follow. This was an innovative number set to music with a medley of instruments, such as saxophone, guitar, clarinet, violin, drums and the keyboard. As the name suggests, the students were at the crossroads of their dance lessons, wherein the basic movements were mastered and were on their way to learning the basic items of the Bharatanatyam repertoire. It is noteworthy to say that the students were taught simple but colorful movements to give them the opportunity to perform and to exhibit their innate talents.

Krishnaashtakam, the well-known Sanskrit number in praise of Lord Krishna was the next item chosen for delineation by the students of Kalasrishti. A judicious blend of the rudimentary attempts at Nritta (pure dance) and Nrithya (emotive dance) were presented in a detailed and joyous manner.

Ritu Shringara was the highlight of the evening's program, with a depiction of the various dance seasons through the emotions of Radha, as she passes through the seasons searching for her beloved Krishna. Challenging in not only the choreographic aspects, but also the logistical aspects, Meena provided a balanced opportunity for each and every one of her students in her dance institution. This made for some interesting formations and interpretations on stage, ranging from beginners to advanced students showcasing their talents in myriad hues. Colorful combinations and presentations of costumes added to the visual beauty of the aesthetically woven item.

In conclusion, Meena herself presented a brisk Thillana in Kathanakuthuhalam ragam and Adi thalam. A torchbearer of the Pandanallur bani, she delivered the item with vigour and perfection, in sync with her esteemed Guru's inimitable style. Recipient of the prestigious award at the Indian Fine Arts Association (IFAS) talent program held in Madras in 1990, Meena had the unique opportunity to perform for the inaugural program for the 1991 talent program held by the same organization. In addition, on the occasion of her arangetram, she was conferred the title of "Natya Thendral" by Soundara Kailasam, the Chief Justice of Tamilnadu.

Kudos to the Guru, the children and the parents for jointly undertaking the arduous, yet fulfilling journey of staging a program. From the point of conception of the program, to the teaching and execution, it is, as they say, "blood, sweat and tears" all the way. Here's looking forward to more enjoyable programs from Kalasrishti - "where the creation of arts takes place." 
Jayanthi Balachandran is an arts enthusiast living in Cary, North Carolina.