Fundraiser enraptures audience
- Vasantha Siddappa

December 31, 2005

On Saturday Nov.12th, students of Jayendra Kalakendra under the direction of artistic director Suganda Iyer, presented 'A celebration of seasons,' in which they raised over $5100 for the Shiva Murugan Temple at Concord. It was an evening filled with beautiful music and captivating dance which enraptured the audience at the packed Cubberly Theater.

A beautifully executed Ganesha Vandana by two senior students was followed by the fast paced items Saraswathi Vandana and Alarippu. Even the little ones kept to the beat, much to the delight of the parents and those watching. The performance by the seniors was outstanding. A beautifully rendered piece of Jathiswaram was a smooth blend of speed and intricate footwork that left the audience spell bound. There was disbelief when the audience came to know that the piece was actually composed by 4 senior students (under Suganda's direction).

Next, the audience was transported into the ancient world of Gods and Goddesses. The two solo pieces 'Keertanam' regaling the stories of Shiva and 'Devi Stuthi' showing the life of 'Raja Rajeshwari,' was brought brilliantly alive that even those who did not know the stories were soon immersed in it. The ever enchanting tales of Krishna and the Gopis were a joy to watch. The fast paced Natanam showing the dance of Shiva in the golden temple of Chidambaram captivated the audience. The first half of the program ended with the flawless rendition of the Tillana, a perfect blend of speed, rhythm and flashes of color as the girls criss-crossed in perfect unison. The energy reverberated through the hall.

The second half of the show heralded the much awaited 'experimental' ballet portraying the different seasons. Pictures of the different seasons projected and lighting set the stage for the dancers. Gentle rhythms and skillful depiction by the dancers drew the audience into an enchanted world. Spring showed different animals waking up from their winter slumber, flowers blooming, elephants watching, deer leaping, trees swaying to the gentle breeze. With summer came the bright sun shine as it made its way around the earth bathing everything in its warmth. This was followed by fall with the leaves falling and children playing in the heaps of leaves. There was laughter in the audience as the 'kids' dumped leaves on each other. With winter came the chill of the cold wind. They huddled for warmth as the storm raged and snow fell. For the audience so immersed in the mood of the different scenes created, it was over all too soon. The 'experiment' was a resounding success.

People left with the sounds of gungroo, the melodious voice of Jayanthi Umesh, the beseeching sounds of Shubha Narasimhan's violin, the rhythms of Balaji Mahadevan's Mridangam and images of the dances playing in their minds far into the night. At least for a short while they were able to get away from the cares of the everyday world.

Vasantha Siddappa is a music and dance enthusiast and sings at various temples during festival seasons.