Pooja Sripad's Rangapravesham
Pooja Sripad’s “Rangapravesham” or her debut Bharatnatyam performance was held on September 14, 2003 at the Wood Hill Middle School in Andover. A senior at Philip’s Academy Pooja started learning Bharatnatyam with her mother, Chand Sripad and then continued her training with her mother’s dance teacher, Ms. Nandini Eswer of Mysore. Every other summer, Pooja traveled to Mysore in South India to train in the Tanjavur school of Bharatnatyam. Those years of dedication to the dance and intense learning were visible in Pooja’s dancing. Clear and precise adavus, straight lines of form and well executed movements were a sheer joy to the eye and hearts of over 400 in the audience.
The structure of the evening’s Bharatnatyam repertoire was presented like the floor plan of a Hindu temple, with the dancer moving from the gopuram (gate) outside the temple in Allaripu to the Ardha Mandapam (halfway hall) in Jatiswaram, to the Maha Mandapam (Great Hall) in the Shabdam and slowly entering the holy precinct of the deity in the Varnam: Sri Krishnah and next making her way to into the inner sanctum with the padam, the expressive dance item.
The dramatic or abhinaya pieces that Pooja and her guru choose brought forth the maturity of expression in the many stories and characters that Pooja performed from the demon king Hiranyakashipu, his son Prahalad, to stories of Krishna’s birth, his life in Brindavan, and his discourse to Arjun in the Bhagvad Gita.
A truly unique piece that Pooja did was the Ashtanayika, the depiction of the eight types of Nayika or heroine described in Bharata’s “NatyaShastra”. Her training in expression was put to real test in this piece and she performed with great clarity and subtlety. To be able to express the fine distinctions between the moods of eight different heroines, from the one who is yearning for her lover, to the one who is content in love, the one who is jealous, the one who shuns her lover and then repents and others can be very demanding for a senior dancer, and Pooja executed on each with superb mastery. At 17, Pooja is at a wonderful age where these sentiments and expressions were understood, internalized and expressed by her in all her dancing. A beautiful Thillana in Brindavani raga with sculpturesque poses concluded the program.
Live music accompaniment by Mysore Srinath, vocal support, Sri Hari on the Mridangam, Guru Nandini Eswer on the Natuvangam, and local music teachers Tara Anand and Durga Krishnan on the Violin and Veena added to the evening’s performance. The evening was aesthetically organized, considerable thought given to every detail for which the entire Sripad family must be given credit and applause.
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