Thursday, May 3, 2007

Dances for the gods.

Wherever a dancer stands ready, that spot is holy ground. - Martha Graham

Last Sunday (April 29) I was at the RK Swami auditorium near the Mylapore Temple, Chennai to watch the ‘Varshik Natyotsav’ presented by selected students of Raga Rasalaya. I attended because my granddaughter Susan Ann Isaac (12) was among the performers. It turned out to be a delightful evening.

Raga Rasalaya is a private school of dancing where a limited number of students is admitted and taught personally by the guru, Mrs. Radha Srinivasan who is a well-known exponent of the Pandanallur style of Bharathanatyam.

The program started on time with Pushpanjali and Mallari, saluting the God of dance, Guru and Mother Earth. This was followed by a prayer to Lord Ganesha and another invocation, Alarippu. Then there was a Muthuswamy Dikshithar song on Swaraswati, Goddess of Learning.

The main item of the evening was a Ragamalika, Bhavayami Raghuramam, the famous creation by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal of Travancore on Ramayana. Radha Srinivasan had choreographed it into a dance drama presenting the great epic in a nut-shell. I must say that Susan Ann performed creditably along with three senior artistes. Her role was Lakshman.

But the best part of the evening was an impromptu depiction of ‘Krishna nee begane baru’ just before the Tillana, by Radha Srinivasan. Her class was evident.

After the satiated audience left there was Drishti Puja to ward off any evil eye on the performers. This was something that I had not known about. I believe that it is a ritual carried out privately after the spectators have gone.

The image of the postal stamp and the Martha Graham quote given at the beginning of this post, are from India outside my window It is an interesting blog.


Also see: M.S. Subbalakshni – The Queen of Song


Isabel said...

Your granddaughter is very lucky to be learning Bharata Natyam from such a young age. I only started as an adult so it's a struggle.

I'm glad you like the image and the quote. I think it's Indrani Rehman in the photo but I'm not sure. I think Martha Graham's quote is very apt when it comes to Indian classical dance.

Unknown said...

Thank you Isabel.

I'm glad to hear that you are learning Bharathanatyam. I suppose the process is more difficult for adults than it is for children.

My daughter Rosemary (Susan Ann's mother) is also attending dance classes under Radha Srinivasan. While in school she had learned a little bit. After a long layoff, she's back to the steps and the mudras.

Abraham Tharakan.

Ramesh Gandhi said...

I always loved Krishna Nee Begane..., (as who does not). I didn't know about the Drishti puja - that's interesting!

Unknown said...

Nancy, thank you for your comment. I'm trying to learn more about drishti puja and hope to do a post if I get enough material.
Abraham Tharakan.