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Guru Samparna: Dance Artists Raise Funds For TANKER Foundation
BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
The Atlanta based Third Eye dancers presented “Guru Samarpana” featuring professional artists of various dance forms across the US on Sunday, August 28 2011 at The Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. The performance was a fundraiser for the Tamilnad Kidney Research Foundation (TANKER). Professional artists, mostly founders and artistic directors of dance schools in Atlanta, California, Chicago, South Carolina, and Washington DC gathered together for the cause and also as a tribute to their teachers, hence the title Guru Samarpana, which roughly translates to tribute to the teacher.
With the mission of “giving through dance”, Bharathakala Natya Academy’s artistic director Subathra Sudarshan in association with Third Eye dancers has organized various fundraisers in the past for Dayaa Nidhi, Prana, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Akshaya Trust. “Today’s event as you know is for helping TANKER Foundation. Through the Guru Samarpana Dance, we wish to offer our heartfelt salutations to our respective Gurus” Subathra said in her welcome speech. With approximately 650 in attendance, the event raised over $5000 for the cause.
The emcee of the evening, Krishna Kumar chose an artistic approach to introduce each piece through hand and facial gestures. Krishna Kumar runs Bharata Kalarpana School of Indian Culture and Fine Arts in South Carolina with his wife Sivakami.
The first performance ‘Nrittanjali’, was an invocatory piece with pure dance genre involving an array of body movements and footwork by Sutikshna Veeravalli. Sutikshna at 17 is a gifted Bharatanatyam dancer and Carnatic music singer, and an honors student in Naperville, IL. Sutikshna, at the young age of 15, holds the unique distinction of composing a Tillana (Ragam Valachi, Talam Adi) and also performing at her Arangetram. Trained for over 12 years by her mother and teacher Vanitha Veeravalli, Director, Bharatam Academy of Dance Arts in Chicago.
Kuchipudi format of ‘Sri Ganapathinim’, a Thyagaraja kriti was rendered graciously by Dr. Yamini SaraPalli. Since 1995, Yamini has been training under Padmabhushan guru Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam and his son, Sri Vempati Ravi Shankar. Yamini has also studied Carnatic vocal music since 2001. Her gurus include Smt. Vidya Parthasarathy and Sri DK Nagarajan and currently trains under Sri Bhagavatula Seetharama Sarma when residing in Chennai, India.
The vibrant rendition of ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ followed in Kathak style by Kumud Savla and her group. Kumud has specialized in Kathak from Kathak Kendra in New Delhi, where she had the opportunity to learn and perform with some world-renowned artists, such as Late Pandit Kundanlalji, Late Pandit Durgalalji and Rajendrakumar Gangani. Now directing Atlanta's premier north Indian dance and music academy, Nritya Natya Kala Bharti, along with her husband Sandeep Savla, offering courses of all levels in kathak dance and Hindustani Sangeet, cerified by the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, India.
Krishna Kumar and Sivakami, the husband and wife pair danced blissfully to Aadal Kalaiye, from a Tamil movie. The duo run Bharata Kalarpana, School of Indian Culture and Fine Arts, in Greenville, South Carolina. Sivakami started learning Bharata Natyam in the classical tradition of Kalakshetra at the age of five from her mother, Smt. Esha Bhavanandan and and received further training under Padmashri Adyar K. Lakshman. Krishnakumar started learning Bharata Natyam at the age of 7 and continued training under Dhananjayans from the age of 9. He has also attended workshops under Guru Adyar K. Lakshman.
Captivating Kuchipudi by Sasikala Penumarthi, ‘Bodhu Kon Alo’, an excerpt from Tagore’s ‘Chitrangada’ entertained the audience next. Sasikala is an exponent of Padma Bhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam's style of Kuchipudi dance. She founded the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance, a non-profit organization. Sasikala serves as an Artist Affiliate at Emory University.
A group performance ‘Yen Palli Kondeer Ayya’ by Dr. Anurdha Murali, Kannan Rasiah, Aparna Seetharaman, Preetha Sayeekrishna, Subathra Sudarshan treated the crowd to a Arunachala Kavirayar composition, where the devotee asks Lord Vishnu if he is resting on the milky ocean because he is tired form his exploits as Rama and Krishna. Dr. Anuradha Murali , Artistic Director of Mrudani School of Performing Arts had her initial training in Bharathanatyam under Radha Srinivassan and advanced training through Shanta and VP Dhananjayan, Bharathakalanjali, Chennai, and Adyar K Lakshman, Bharatha Choodamani, Chennai, India. She has her training in Kuchipudi by P. Rajeshwari and advanced training with world-renowned Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam, Kuchipudi Art Academy, Chennai, India. She has worked as an Adjunct Professor of Dance at Columbia College, Columbia, SC and as an Instructor of Dance at University of SC, Department of Dance, Columbia, SC.
Kannan Rasiah received his training under Smt. Padmarani Rasiah Cantu, the Artistic Director of the Fine Arts Society at Yogaville, and has performed and taught for the Society in schools, colleges, and cultural festivals in the United States.
Aparna Seetharaman was trained at Kalakshetra during her childhood and advanced training under the illustrious duo, The Dhananjayans, Chennai. She has worked at Kala Vandana Dance Center, San Jose for many years. Preetha Sayeekrishna is the founder of "Samyuktam Natya Academy" in Cumming, GA which imparts professional training in Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam. She was trained by Gurus Sri. M. V. Narasimhachari and Smt. Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari at their institution, Kala Samarpana.
The most mesmerizing and inspiring performance of Hari Tum Haro, a Meera Bhajan amalgamating three different stories of Lord Krishna rescuing Draupadi at her disrobing by Dushasana, Hiranyakashipu and Prahlad and Gajendra Moksha. The performance duly received a standing ovation.
Dr. Subha Maruvada delighted the audience with her Kuchipudi renderence of ‘Sri Bhuvaneshwari’. Subha is the founder and artistic director of Pranava Natyam Kuchipudi School of Dance and currently teaches in Maryland. She has a unique distinction of celebrated excellence in two classical dance techniques of South India - Kuchipudi under Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam and Bharatnatyam under Mrs. Kamala Narayana (Laxman). Subha is a Research Engineer at the FDA.
Atlanta based surgeon Dr. Manohar Nallathambi talked about the TANKER Foundation. “Kidney Failure is the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. For the past 18 years TANKER has fought against kidney diseases by providing subsidized and free dialysis and financial support to the underprivileged. It maintains 3 dialysis units with 26 dialysis machines in Chennai and Madurai and is set to begin two more units in Tirunelveli and Coimbatore. Since November 2009, there is a dedicated dialysis unit for poor with HIV, the very first of its kind in India.” He said in his address and thanked everyone for their support.
‘Jaya Maruthi Kauthuvam’ by Subartha Sudarshan describing the qualities of Lord Anjaneya enthralled the audience. ‘Jagadananada karaka’ a Thyagaraja composition was rendered gracefully by Sasikala and her group. A dance piece describing the beauty of Lord Muruga, ‘Malai Varum Velai’ - group performance was next. Mother daughter pair captivated the audience with their ‘Tumhari Mohe Chedo Na’. ‘Nrittangaharam – Behag’, a rhythmic interpretation of a single verse by the entire group of performers was captivating. The evening ended on a high note with ‘Mangalam’ where all artists expressed their gratitude to everyone present and the almighty.
In his Vote of Thanks, Sudarshan Srinivasan thanked everyone for their support. “Joy of giving has no other match” he said. He thanked Dr. Nallathambi, Krishna Kumar, the Gwinnett team and all the volunteers. He also recognized all the professional artists for coming together to lend their support to the worthy cause. He also appealed the audience to support their upcoming event ’ Enchanted Snowwhite’ a fundraiser to aid children’s education for Bhutanese refugees in Atlanta, at Gwinnett Center on Saturday October 29,2011.