Experience India
- Aneal Krishnamurthy, VA

November 4, 2005

Experience India, presented by Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh & Company, showcased local dance talent on October 28, 2005 at the Tawes Theatre (University of Maryland, College Park). The program was part of a month-long celebration of Indian dance and art in the Washington, D.C. area.

The evening commenced with a traditional Bharatanatyam recital by students of Nrityanjali School of Dance and its director, Meena Telikicherla. Vrinda Buchwald, Vanee Shiva, Shwetha Manoharan, and Daniel Phoenix Singh presented a Mallari along with their guru, a Padam (Ananda Natamidum) and a Thillana. The group worked well together and was well coordinated. It was apparent that the dancers were enjoying themselves on stage. However, the lack of araimandi by the dancers was conspicuous in its absence. Interspersed into these group items, Meena Telikicherla presented a Javali and an Ashtapadi, each depicting an episode involving Lord Krishna. Meena Telikicherla's subtle abhinaya conveyed the emotions with interest. The dancers were ably accompanied by a live orchestra consisting of Geeta Navanithan (vocal), Shobha Subramanian (vocal and nattuvangam), Sandhya Srinath (violin) and Srinath Balasubramanian (mridangam).

After an intermission, Anisha Abraham presented Mayura Natya. Dressed in blue and adorned with a full plume of peacock feathers, Ms. Abhraham presented the dance of a peacock. The sound quality of the music was poor which proved to be distracting. Overall the dance was quite appealing yet one felt that there was something lacking in it. Perhaps the weight of a full plume of feathers made it difficult to execute some of the movements.

Kuchipudi Kalanidi presented Expressions of Life, choreographed by Anuradha Nehru. The group was well rehearsed and coordinated. They were effective in conveying various rasas (love, disgust, happiness, sorrow, wonder, anger, courage, and peace) dancing to music without a narrative. The group executed the nritta with abhinaya aspects with ease. A special mention should be made of the gracefulness of the dancers in depicting Shanti. The only negative was that, perhaps due to time constraints, some rasas received more attention than others. A more balanced presentation would have added an overall symmetry to the performance. The dancers were Asha Dwarka, Chitra Kalyandurg, Anita Sivaraman, Nanda Srikantaiah, Silpa Thotakura, and Smitha Viswanathan.

The evening concluded with Pulse presented by Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh & Company. Choreographed by N Srikanth of Chennai, Pulse had its debut at the Indian Dance Educator's Association (IDEA) festival in September. The dancers worked hard with a high level of energy to do justice to the creative choreography. The global music was pulsing with a heavy percussion base. The dancers explored rhythms from around the world through vignettes of classical and folk traditions. The dancers made effective use of stage entries and exits to add interest to the performance. The only jarring note of the performance came with the sudden loud jathis that disturbed the flow of the music and seemed almost like an afterthought. The dancers for this creative piece were Manisha Shah, Jai Khalsa, Vrinda Buchwald, Shwetha Manoharan and Daniel Phoenix Singh.

Aneal Krishnamurthy is an admirer of the classical Indian dance forms. Although a lawyer by profession, he has been deeply interested in promoting the classical Indian arts in the United States. Through his critical writings, he hopes to share his thoughts on the current state of classical Indian dance as well as the future direction the dance forms may take.