NRI Pulse Staff Report
Atlanta, GA, September 9, 2019: There are some things about Georgia that have become synonymous with seasons: fall Bulldogs games, wintertime Christmas lights at the Botanical Gardens, springtime Dogwood Festivals, and summertime Arangetrams — at least for the Indian community. On display at Kennesaw State University’s Dance Theater in early August was the budding artistry of two Walton High School students, Keertana and Prartana Satya. Sisters at home and partners onstage, they made their solo “Bharatanatyam Arangetram” dance debut. The lobby area was tastefully decorated with colorful silk backdrops, flower garlands, diyas, brass accents, and traditional South Indian kolams. The guest books adorned with intricate kolam prints had a unique touch. The lobby decor raised the intrigue even as you walked in.
Bharatanatyam is steeped in tradition, and the customary prayer to Lord Nataraja, “Salangai Pooja,” before the curtains went up had an intimate setting. The home video showcasing the kids’ progress in the art form was warm and sentimental. The live orchestra on stage was led by local vocalist Smt. Gayatri Vasanth and she was accompanied by Sri. K. Suresh on the Mridangam, Sri. CV Subramanian on the violin, Sri. Prashanth Kallur on the flute, and young Archit Suresh on the kanjira.
The Guru Smt. Gayatri Subramanian, the Founder-Director of KA Academy of Indian Music & Dance was on the nattuvangam and orchestrated the proceedings. The master of ceremony, Hamsika Ramani, did an amazing job providing the narratives to the dance numbers. She kept the audience engaged, and between the dancer numbers her glib introduction of the accompanying artists was witty and poignant.
Curtains up, lights on, and the event kicked off with the traditional Pushpanjali, an invocatory dance in which the dancers pay their respects to the presiding deity, the guru, and the rasikas. The stage backdrop provided an impressive decor via creative use of a gobo casting a “kolam” of a traditional indian chariot (Ratham) decked on either side with temple pillars. This along with varying background colors provided a backdrop to the dance that was simply breathtaking. Keertana and Prartana, resplendent in their amazing costumes, took to the stage and did not allow the elaborate costumes or the occasion to weigh them down. The next dance, “Sabdam,” was a forceful portrayal of Devi the Shakti. “Varnam,” the centerpiece and the most challenging dance, was exemplary with the dancers demonstrating their laya and abhinaya to the wonderful lyrics in praise of Lord Shiva. The performance was truly vibrant.
The Arangetram had a higher significance besides the personal milestones. At the request of Keertana and Prartana, the event had committed to raise funds for two worthy charitable organizations, “Udavum Karangal” and “Access Life America.” The second half of the program started with video messages from these two beneficiary charitable organizations. The messages were genuine and the guests were generous in donating funds. It was eye-opening to see the work carried out by these organizations and the fundraising was an incredibly satisfying and laudable effort.
The second half continued with a solo performance by the younger of the two dancers, Prartana Satya. “Thigattum Varai Vennai,” a playful storyline about young Krishna, was aptly portrayed by the dancer with visible mischief lurking in her eyes. The sisters reunited for “Ananda nadam adum Eeshan”, a portrayal of Lord Shiva’s dance of bliss. The dancers struck a chord with the audience as the segment featured intricate and complex poses woven into a blissful rendition. For her solo performance, Keertana danced to “Jagadhodharana” and recreated the affection of a mother towards a child. Recreating Yashoda’s daily rituals of caring for Krishna from holding him, playing with him, and rocking him to sleep, to the cracking of the fingers to dispel evil spirits as she gazes down on him was a surreal experience to many. The next number, “Thillana,” brought intricate footwork and fast-paced movements, and afterward the dancers concluded the program with “Mangalam.”
The dance elements were choreographed by Guru Smt. Gayatri Subramanian and her Guru Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan, the founder-director of “Soundarya Natya Kalalaya”, Mumbai.
Founder and editor-in-chief of NRI Pulse, Smt. Veena Rao was the chief guest, felicitating the dancers and paying tribute to the orchestra.
“The qualities that you have cultivated as dancers- the focus, dedication, perseverance, attention to detail, striving for perfection- these are the same qualities that I have needed in the past 13 years as newspaper publisher. These qualities will help you all your life, in the pursuit of other goals,” she said.
The event raised over $3000 and, with the help of a corporate sponsor, the total money raised was close to $6000. Overall, it was an incredibly enjoyable dance performance, a day when personal milestones were reached for the young dancers and the community came together to help raise funds for struggling families and children in need.
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