Mayari Bala Rajamani
After years of dancing under the guidance of her guru, and mother, Jayshree Bala Rajamani, Mayari finally reached the day of her Arangetram, which despite complications brought on by the pandemic, continued at the Sri Lakshmi Temple. Friends and family eagerly awaited her performance, whether it was in person or virtually.
Mayari’s Arangetram began with a Pushpanjali, or an offering of flowers and a dance of salutations. She then continued with the Natesha Kauthuvam. Both dances displayed graceful movements and captivating musical beats, which quickly caught the attention of the audience. The pieces smoothly led into the Alarippu, where increasingly complex steps were shown off, with the dancer “opening up” her body, not unlike a flower.
Next, Mayari continued into her next piece, a Jathiswaram, another piece of pure dance, where she commanded the stage with her steadfast technique, strong aramandi, and clear footwork. But not only did Mayari show that she was capable of multiple jathi sequences, she also showed that she had honed her expressive skills. Mayari mesmerised the audience in her Shabdam on Nataraja by magnificently weaving the story of a young Nayika in love with the Lord himself. Her expressions almost made the audience yearn alongside the character.
Mayari then moved into the Varnam, the last piece of the first half, and by far the longest piece of the dancer’s repertoire. It was a remarkable piece where she elegantly depicted four different stories of Ganesha, intertwined with many jathis. Mayari performed the jathis with great poise and agility throughout the entirety of the Varnam and they appeared almost effortless, despite the strain of already dancing for so long. The stories of the Varnam were also outstanding, told with a passion that made the audience feel as if they were truly witnessing Ganesha himself.
After a short intermission, Mayari continued the second half of her arangetram, with another three expressive pieces, the first focusing on Lord Rama, the second in praise of Lord Nataraja, and the third being dedicated to Lord Murugha. Mayari wonderfully embodied all characters in the pieces, with her skillfulness in acting and expressions keeping each one distinct from each other.
The last piece of Mayari’s Arangetram was a Tillana, followed by a Mangalam. The Tillana was a dance Mayari had learned from Kalaimamani Rama Vaidyanathan, and the first dance that she publicly performed together with her mother. The dance is one of pure joy that celebrates the complementary Shiva and Shakti, and was performed by Mayari with high energy and a big smile on her face, even at the end of her undoubtedly strenuous performance. The standing ovation was certainly earned, with the effort that Mayari put in and the success of this great achievement.