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Giving Through Dance- ‘Kalpavriksha’ Raises Funds, Awareness for Mahalakshmi Foundation

Kalpavriksha- the Giving Tree

Photos by Venkat Kuttua

Atlanta, GA: Georgia based Third Eye Dancers & Bharathakala Natya Academy presented ‘Kalpavriksha- the Giving Tree’ a thematic natya presentation at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center on September 30. The dance drama raised funds for Mahalakshmi Foundation, a shelter for abandoned children in India.

Over 600 people attended the dance drama, which was conceptualized and choreographed by Subathra Sudarshan, the founder and artistic director of Third Eye Dancers & Bharathakala Natya Academy.

Kalpavriksha- the Giving Tree

The program was in keeping with the tradition of these twin organizations, that have in the past partnered to raise funds for various causes including CNN Hero Narayanan Krishnan’s Akshaya Trust, the cause of Bhutanese refugee children’s education in Atlanta, the Tamilnad Kidney Research Foundation (TANKER), Rising Star Outreach that brings hope to people afflicted with leprosy, amongst others.

‘Kalpavriskha- the Giving Tree’ told the story of Ganga, an orphan girl in a small village and a tree who gives care and affection to her. The tree, Aditya takes care of Ganga when her father dies. The story depicts the happenings of the village as witnessed by Aditya and Ganga and the sacrifices made by the tree to help Ganga and the village.

Kalpavriksha- the Giving Tree

Aditya teaches Ganga the lessons about caring for nature through various events. As Ganga grows, Aditya shows her the value of ‘Water’, ‘Earth’, ‘Sun’, and ‘Air’ the essential elements to life. Does self sacrifice bring happiness if it is done for loved ones? Does true love survive beyond one’s lifetime? Kalpavriksha, attempted to provide the answers.

Beautiful choreography, combined with some great performances and a thought provoking story kept the audience engaged through the presentation. The dance drama had bharatanatyam as its core, but also used folk elements to depict a colorful story.

Kalpavriksha- the Giving Tree

Guest artist Dr Seshadri Iyengar was brilliant as Aditya, the tree. Dr Krishna Kumar was lucid and effective as ‘kala’ (time), the storyteller. The real winners of the evening were the students of Subathra, whose hard work and practice shone through in their immaculate foot work, hand movements, and impressive abhinaya. Even the littlest ones did not miss a step. Ishwarya Venkatachalam was exceptional as Ganga.

Earlier in the evening, Subathra, in her opening remarks, paid obeisance to her parents and her gurus, the Dhananjayans who had instilled in her the values of service. “To support a noble cause in a blessing,” she said. She also thanked the parents who recognize the value of giving and the power of these values in laying the foundation for a better future (for their children) and to be stronger individuals.

Gayatri Indrakrishnan, treasurer of Third Eye Dancers, provided an overview of the foundation’s activities through the years. “We have not only raised funds for various organizations, but have raised awareness for them through our fundraisers,” she said, adding, “Today we have 600 people to help the Mahalakshmi Foundation.”

Kalpavriksha- the Giving Tree

An audio/visual presentation educated the packed audience about the foundation’s activities. Established in 2000 in Chennai by Kasturi and Kulandaivelu, Mahalakshmi Foundation provides shelter for abandoned, destitute and orphaned children. Apart from providing basic care, food, clothing and shelter, the foundation provides value based education, medical care and personal skills development. The focus is also on protecting the kids from child labor, trafficking and begging.

Currently, the foundation houses 38 children between the ages 1 to 13 in a building built in 2008 with help from donors. These kids are schooled in government run and semi-private schools. Third Eye Dancers has confirmed sponsorships for 11 of these children, according to its president Sudarshan Srinivasan.

The main objective of ‘Kalpavriksha-the Giving Tree’ was to support construction of another floor to the existing building at the orphanage and free up space for an all girls dormitory. “I have not had time to look at the accounts yet, but I am confident that we will cross $7000 at least, said Srinivasan.

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