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Arangetram: Mani Sisters - Shivali, Kavya And Uthra Mani

Nagendra Rao
10/04/2018

An artistic bonanza on three fronts awaited eager audiences at Bellingham High School on 2ndSeptember. The three musicians who came all the way from Chennai, India, the masterful choreography from the guru of Lasya School of Dance Smt. Sapna Krishnan and the three Mani sisters who enthralled the audience on the occasion of their Bharatanatyam Arangetram. The experience was even more unique considering that two of the three sisters were twins Kavya and Shivali, and their coordination with the younger sister Uthra was endearing to watch.

The evening began with a Mallari, traditionally performed when a deity is taken out from the sanctum sanctorum for a joyous procession. They danced to the glory of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, depicting him being carried on a palanquin so beautifully. The three sisters started with this dance taking the “rasikas”, the audience, into a journey of carefully selected dance items for the day.

The highlight of the evening was the elaborate, intense and artistic varnam, Maha Tripura Sundari, which was a masterpiece in storytelling. Guru Sapna Krishnan’s choreography skills were aptly demonstrated when the sisters performed two tales intertwined with scintillating nattuvangum. The dancers personified the Goddess Meenakshi, the most beautiful among the three worlds and the most merciful guardian of all mankind. The varnam began with the story of Adi Shankara, the great sage asking Mookambika Devi to go with him to Kalady. Kavya, Shivali and Uthra depicted this story with finesse and skill, showing how Adi Shankara looked back at the Devi when she had told him not to do so. His looking back resulted in the establishment of the great Kollur temple in Karnataka. The varnam’s second story was that of Abirami Bhattar and his devotion to Goddess Abirami who granted him the vision of a full moon by throwing her luminous ring towards the sky in order to save him from his king’s wrath. The trio’s skill, endurance, agility and stamina were amply exhibited during this varnam.

The hall was filled with musical vibrations during a mesmerizing interlude by the orchestra, Sri. Sudev Warrier, a disciple of the great Sri M.Balamuralikrishna on vocals, Sri Sudhaman on mridangam, and Sri.Patanjali on the flute. It seemed as though Patanjali could produce any sound from the flute including the sound of a conch and birds in Brindavan. The mridangist Sudhaman engaged and entertained the audience well by involving them in the chorus with claps in his percussion solo.

There was a bouquet of solo dances by the sisters for the day. The solo by Kavya, an enchanting Mahadeva Kauthuvam, in praise of the half-man, half-woman form of Lord Mahadeva, was wonderfully presented. Shivali performed a beautiful solo piece on Lord Vishnu, Narayana Kauthuvam, dedicating the piece to the one who spans the universe and the one who incarnated as one of the Dasha Avataaras. Uthra came on stage to perform a solo on Shanmukha Kauthuvam, in devotion of the six-faced Lord who rides on a peacock and swirls his divine spear, the “vel”, warding away all evil. She depicted Lord Muruga who was born from the sparks of Lord Shiva’s third eye. These solos gave ample evidence of the three sisters’ devotion and experience of the art form.

The day was a festive celebration for Janamashtmi and the rasikas enjoyed a wonderful dance devoted to Lord Krishna, Parkadal Alaimele, showing the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. It was an exhilarating expression of Abhinaya and graceful footwork. The sisters mesmerized the audience with their graceful depiction of all the avatars, from the first avatar of Matsya the fish, to Narasimha who vanquished the evil Hiranyakashipu and finally to Kalki, the apocalyptic horse rider who vanquishes the atrocities and evilness in the present day.

Another strong and vibrant piece was Omkarakarini, celebrating Goddess Durga, the embodiment of Om, the primordial, universal sound. Uthra delighted the audience with the story of Lord Mahishasura who was slain by Goddess Durga and she earned the name Mahishasura Mardini. This item is a composition of Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, and sung by his student, the vocalist on stage, Sri Sudev Warrier.

Kavya and Shivali presented two items that were uniquely formatted towards the latter half of the event. One of these was Kavadi ChinduNintranda Mayil, a folk song that depicts the effect of Lord Krishna’s melodious flute on the birds, animals and inhabitants of the heavenly garden Brindavan. The other was Kaliyuga Varadan, a very famous Tamil composition in praise of Lord Muruga.

Shivali, Kavya and Uthra then performed a Tillana in ragam Kadanakuthuhalam composed by Dr.M. Balamuralikrishna towards the end followed by Mangalam.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the enchanting stories brought to life by the three girls during this beautiful Arangetram. Guru Smt. Sapna Krishnan, the audience, and the families blessed the girls and wished them a great life and career ahead.  The Mani girls rendered a beautifully coordinated dance Arangetram that will be in people’s memory for a long time.

 



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