BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Soundarya Natyalaya celebrated the fourth year of its commencement on May 3rd 2009 with an annual recital at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta. Gayatri Subramanian, the artistic director choreographed and performed with her students accompanied by live music. Gayatri’s Guru Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan from Mumbai provided vocals, with CV Subramanian playing the violin and Santosh Chandru rendering the mridangam.
The program commenced with a short sloka, Natyaveda, a description of four Vedas and creation of the fifth Veda, Natyaveda by Brahma performed by Aditi, Suganya & Sherin. Pushpanjali, a traditional invocatory dance in praise of Lord Ganesha, Shiva and Goddess Saraswati in Ragam Hamsadhwani was presented gracefully by Aditi, Bhavya, Sherin and Sriradha.
Young students Dhanasree, Mehak, Priya & Sanjana showcased their talent in Alarippu, a short invocatory nritta piece that involved the flexions of neck and body. Maha Ganapathim, a prayer in Sanskrit to Lord Ganesha was performed delightfully by little girls Shreya, Samiksha and Esha.
Lord Shiva is said to have danced to destroy a weary universe and in order to recreate it. The depiction of this dance was Bho Shambho a nritta padam that involved jattis, technical movements that demonstrate the ‘Tandav’ of Lord Shiva and plenty of poses, completely synchronized by dancers Ashka, Suganya & Shubha.
Soundarya Natyalaya also presented a thematic dance ballet, “Krishna Leela” illustrating the different stages, moods and works of Lord Krishna’s life. It portrayed Krishna as a god-child, prankster, model lover, divine hero and the Supreme Being. The profound love and affection of Yashoda for her child was demonstrated in the padam, “Krishna nee Begane”. Gayatri expressed her emotions with radiance both as Yashoda and Krishna and enacted on various scenes such as Yashoda seeing the universe in Krishna’s mouth, Krishna troubling Yashoda while putting him to sleep. This was followed by a scene where little Krishna is adorned, loved and bedecked by Yashoda with little Krishna played by Gayatri’s 3 yr old daughter, Kirti. The scene Navaneeta Krishna showing Krishina’s love for butter was played by Samiksha, with Esha & Shreya as his friends. Gopi Lola Gopala played by Shriya, Rhea, Jheel & Divya showed gopis dance to Kanna nee va dreaming of Krishna with Meher and Vardinias Krishnas. Aditi, Sherin & Shriradha with Sanjana danced to the composition, “Teerada vilayattu Pillai”. Govardhana Krishna, who protects Vrindavan from torrential rainfall, was enacted by Dhanashree. The deer dance presented with brisk leaps and jumps on a musical note by Shriya, Rhea, Jheel and a peacock dance by Esha, Shreya & Samiksha was performed on another note. Priya and Mehak performed as Krishna’s friends. The episode of Kalinga Nardhanam where Lord Krishna subdues the evil serpent Kalinga who poisoned Yamuna River was acted out by Suganya as Krishna and Sherin as the serpent. Parthasarathy Krishna took us to the battlefield of Kurukshetra where Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna advices him to stand up against evil was conveyed by Shubha through her facial expressions. The conversation ends with Lord himself revealing the supreme universal form of “Viswaroopa” presented by Gayatri in the form of Krishna. The exuberant emotions and the unification of Radha-Krishna were depicted in the form of Thillana with scintillating, intricate footwork, thereby making a beautiful conclusion to the ballet
“Krishna Leela”. Gayatri as Krishna and Shubha, Ashka as Radha depicted this energetic Thillana.The program concluded with a special musical piece composed and compiled by CV Subramanian which recapitulated the entire ballet depicting all stages of Krishna in one song. This grand finale was a treat to watch with all Krishnas posing their respective roles that received a standing ovation by the audience.
The annual recital was enhanced by live music rendered by Guru Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan, who is the Founder-Director of Soundarya Natya Kalalaya in Mumbai and has been an established teacher for the past 28 years. She is one of the few dance teachers who provides both vocal and Nattuvangum support to all of her students. Her students have staged over 500 performances all around the world. She has been conferred upon a number of titles, such as Nritya Shiksha Choodamani, Nritya Kala Sagar, Suthandira Berigai, Samaj Shakti Award, Shivali Nritya Shiromani, Bodhaga Kala Vipanchee by the great musician Dr. Balamuralikrishna. The accompanying artists CV Subramanian and Santosh Chandru did a wonderful job making a good team on the whole.
Gayatri Subramanian, an accomplished dancer with plenty of awards and accolades to her credit did a great job in putting together the acts, costumes, choreography, music, stage coverage and continuity. She also maintains a website www.soundaryanatyalaya.com. Students of all age groups, even as little as four years rendered a wonderful performance that enthralled a house full of audience for over two hours.