Sreshtaa Rajesh, currently a junior at Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, recently completed her solo Bharatanātyam Arangētram successfully on September 9th, 2017 at the Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, Massachusetts. Sreshtaa is the disciple of Guru Smt. Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai, the artistic director of Natyamani School of Dance, located in Westborough, Massachusetts. The program started with the traditional pooja of Lord Nataraja on the stage by Bhairava Sundaram, the head priest of Boston Sri Kalikambal Siva temple. With the dancer and her family members, the guru, and the musicians on stage, everyone sought the blessings for a successful performance that evening.
The event started with a soulful rendition of the sloka “apāra karuNā sindhum” invoking the blessings of the Sage of Kānchi, Shri Shri Chandrashēkarēndra Saraswatī Mahāswāmi, and Sreshtaa started her Bharatanātyam recital with a Pushpānjali, offering salutations to the lord of dance, Lord Nataraja, the guru, the musicians, and the audience. The Pushpānjali was followed by a Ganēsha Stuthi in Rāga Hamsadhwani and Tālam Ādi where Sreshtaa invoked the blessings of Lord Ganēsha for her Arangētram. The next item was the Jatīswaram in Rāgam Hamsānandi and Tālam Rūpakam, in which jatis were fused with swarams and Sreshtaa energetically showcased intricate nritta and mastery over her execution of adavus.
The next piece was the dynamic Murugan Kavithuvam in Rāgam Shanmukhapriyā, followed by Srī Vallī Dēvasēnāpathē, in Rāgam Natabhairavi and Tālam Ādi depicted Sivan praying to Murugā, the one who fulfills the prayers of the needy and whose compassion is as vast as the ocean. Sreshtaa danced like a deer in this beautiful item, mesmerizing the audience.
After a brief musical interlude, Sreshtaa returned to perform a Varnam, the most enthralling and challenging item of the Bharatanātyam recital. The Varnam, Māyē, in Rāgam Simhēndra Madhyamam and Tālam Ādi, reflected the strength and rigor of the Universal Mother Mīnākshi, with Sreshtaa showcasing the incarnations of Goddesses Bhuvanēswarī, Mahākālī, Lakshmī, and Saraswatī. The skillful portrayal of jatis and swarams intertwined with lively and invigorating stories created a breathtaking display throughout the song. The performance by Sreshtaa left the audience spellbound and left the audience feeling as if the Mother herself was on stage slaying the demon Mahishāsurā.
After the intermission, Sreshtaa began the second part of the performance with Pārkadal Alaimēlē in Rāgammālikā and Tālam Ādi, beautifully describing the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. Saint Thyagaraja’s composition of Shambho Mahādēvā in Rāgamm Kāmavardhini and Tālam Rūpakam brought to life the characters of Shiva and Gangā as Sreshtaa masterfully depicted the taming of Gangā by Lord Shiva. This high energy performance by Sreshtaa was fabulous and she did full justice to the choreography Guru Sridevi had done for the item. One could see Gangā’s force and the calmness beautifully presented by her movements. For the next item, Enna Thavam in Rāgam Kāpī and Tālam Ādi, Sreshtaa evinced beautiful abhinayās with the portrayal of Krishna. Audience were left in a magical state after watching Sreshtaa depicting Krishna in this item. The recital reached a crescendo with the Tillānā in Rāgam Pūrnachandrikā and Tālam Ādi, a brisk and lively piece performed by Sreshtaa with ease and confidence. The recital concluded with the Mangalam where Sreshtaa thanked the Lord, the guru, the musicians, and the audience who watched her ascension to the stage and bestowed their blessings and best wishes.
The orchestra team comprised of eminent musicians made the evening much more memorable. Vocalist Vidvān Raghuram Rajagopalan mesmerized the audience with his amazing rendition of the dance items. Vidvān Srihari Rangaswamy on mridangam, Vidvān Narasimha Murthy Ramamishra on the flute, and Vidushi Tara Bangalore on the violin along with Guru Sridevi Thirumalai on the nattuvangam made the perfect dream team. Guru Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai is a well known Bharatanātyam teacher in Boston area and is known for her rigorous training while maintaining the rich traditions of this art form and bringing the best out of the students. Her Arangētrams are known to have high standards and are a joy to watch. Sreshtaa’s Arangētram is undoubtedly one of the best Arangētrams of Natyamani School of Dance, and one to remember for a long time.