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Margam - Kalakshetra Style

Ranjani Saigal
03/21/2005

Gaythri Srinivasan, a post-doctoral fellow at MIT presented a traditional Bharatanatyam recital, on Sunday March 20th at the Little Kresge Auditorium at MIT. Appropriately titled – “Margam”, the presentation included all the traditional components from Allarippu through Tillana.

Gayathri was trained in the Kalashetra style of Bharatanatyam by Jayalakshmi Eshwar from Abhinay-Delhi and by Krishnaveni Lakshmanan from Kalakshetra, Madras. Thus it was no surprise that her presentation had the unmistakable Kalashetra stamp. Gayathri opened her presentation  with Mallari in Ragam Nattai. This was followed by a beautiful and unusual Shlokam dedicated to Lord Krishna. It was written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thhakur and set to Ragam Hamsadwani.

Mishra Chapu Allarippu and Jathiswaram  followed the invocatory numbers. The Thirupuggazh in ragam Yamunakalyani being sung in the background added a lovely touch. The Jathiswaram was in Ragam Saveri set to Rupaka Talam. Varnam, often described as the piece-de-resistance of any Bharatanatyam program was the elaborate center piece of Gayathri’s presentation. Gayathri chose a Tana Varnam composed by T.R.Subramanium in Behag  dedicated.  I have always been mesmerized by the musical genius of this maestro and his compositions and this Varnam was no exception.  As expected in Varnams dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the story of Gajendra Moksham and Vishwaroopa Darshanam were elaborated upon. The Jathis were short and neat.

The next piece was the  Padam , Yethanai Sonnalum in Ragam Saveri. Padams deal with human situations and often give great scope for Abhinaya – expression of various human emotions. In this Padam, the Nayika is a mother whose daughter has had a fight with her husband and has left him. She is trying to counsel her daughter and convince her to go back to her husband’s home.

Swami Dayananda’s popular Kritanam dedicated to Lord Shiva, Bho Shambho in the Ragam Revathi was presented. A Lalgudi Tillana in the Ragam MohanaKalyani was the last item of the program and Gayathri ended her presentation with a traditional Mangalam.

Gayathri’s excellent training was obvious in her presentation. The music b y O. S. Sridhar and O.S Vaidyanathan was superb and significantly enhanced the presentation.

Presenting a complete Margam requires effort.  Making a Margam presentation while having a busy career as a scientist is not an easy task and Gayathri is to be commended for doing so.

I have watched many presentations made by the members of the MIT Natya Club over the years. The women of the club are unusual in many ways. They are women who are pursuing their degrees in Engineering and Science at one of the finest and most competitive institutions in the world. Yet these young women take the time to practice and present classical dances and put a sincere effort to make presentations that have a certain standard. In this day and age when youngsters are being swept away by career pressures and waves of popular music, I congratulate the women of MIT Natya who seem to understand and appreciate the beauty of this ancient form and are trying to do a lot to keep it alive.

 

 



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