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Scintillating Bharathanatyam Debut: Shriya Srinivas

Thenu Raajan and Raajan Narayanan
07/04/2012

Aanandam aadarangam Aanandam paadalgal
Aanandam palliyam Aanandam vaachiyam
Aanandamaagi akila Saraasaram

Aanandam aananda Koothakandhanuke

The great saint Thirumoolar, describes bliss as an experience through the stage, the orchestra and the various instruments that support the orchestra. This bliss, as Thirumoolar says, is said to have been even experienced by Lord Nataraja himself and is known to have revealed it through his dance. To Thirumoolar’s verse, an artistic endeavor of any kind aims to bring bliss to one and all. The New England arts scene has been fortunate in witnessing many such endeavors. The arangetram of Shriya Srinivas stands as another feather to this cap.

The Bharathanatyam debut of Shriya Srinivas, student of the Natyamani School of Dance and the disciple of Smt. Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai, was successfully held on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012 at the Ashland High School Auditorium, Massachusetts. The afternoon’s repertoire began with a brisk invocatory piece, Aadi tala Pushpanjali in raga Nattai. Following this were items that explored the various talas: Thodaya Mangalam in Khandachapu, Allaripu in Mishrachapu, Ganesha Stuthi in Aadi and Jathiswaram in Roopakam. Shriya displayed much comfort and poise in adapting to the demands of these pieces in different talas.

Karthikeya Kamalekshana, a Krithi in raga Valaji, composed by the late Dr. V.V. Srivatsa was presented next. This moving piece on Lord Karthikeya presents ample opportunities for the dancer to explore the Abhinaya or the expressional aspect of Bharathanaytam. Shriya utilized this opportunity to the fullest. She showed a strong grasp of the underlying meaning of this Krithi and was able to bring forth the essence of the Sahitya or the lyrics with lot of grace.

Following the Krithi and a musical interlude by Smt. Tara Bangalore and Sri Narasimha Murthy Ramamishra, Shriya presented the central piece, the Varnam. The piece chosen for the afternoon was a Navaragamalika composition by Sri K. N. Dandayuthapani Pillai, Samiyai Azhaithodi Vaa. The beauty of this Varnam is how the lyrics are woven into the nine ragas and the seamless transition from raga to raga spaced by a sequence of jathis. Shriya demonstrated great maturity and ease when moving from the nritta focused jathis to bhava centered pallavi, anupallavi and charanam. It was indeed a treat to watch her illustrate the emotions of the Naayika, the central character of this Varnam.

After a short intermission, Shriya continued to enthrall the audience with a series of Krithis and Padams. The second half of the repertoire included a Krithi in Arabhi, Subramanya Bharathiyar’s Sakthi Koothu in Sivasakthi, Vishamakara Kannan in Chenchurutti and Devarnama in Yamuna Kalyani. Shriya’s poise and maturity in illustrating the power of Goddess Sakthi in Sakthi Koothu was very impressive. In the rather playful piece, Oothukaadu’s Vishamakara Kannan, it was once again a delight to watch Shriya depict the mischievous leelas of Lord Krishna. The wonderful afternoon was capped off with a scintillating Thillana in Rathipathipriya and a Thirupugazh, Naada Vinduga for Mangalam.

As the phrase “Geetham, vaadyam tatha nrityam trayam sangeethamuchyathe”, Sangeetham is the culmination of instruments, song and dance. The orchestra, comprising of stalwarts in their chosen fields, was outstanding in defining the mood for the afternoon. On Nattuvangam was Shriya’s guru, Smt. Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai, the delightful and fresh vocals for the afternoon was provided by Vidwan Mathur Srinidhi, dazzling Mridangam by Vidwan Srihari Rangaswamy, brilliant violin by Vidhushi Smt. Tara Bangalore, mesmerizing flute by Vidwan Narasimha Murthy Ramamishra and timely percussion support by Sudharshan Ajai Thirumalai on the rhythm pad. The captivating rendition of Adi Shankaracharya’s Bhaja Govindam by Smt. Tara Bangalore and Vidwan Narasimha Murthy during the musical interlude deserves a special mention.

On the whole, Shriya’s Bharathanatyam debut reflected years of dedicated pupilage and deep passion for this great art. Shriya’s guru, Smt. Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai deserves every credit in her dedication of nurturing Shriya into a bright artist and many more students of this art. She not only ascended the stage, but also ascended the hearts of the audience and well wishers. Shriya has definitely acquired a solid foundation under her guru’s guidance. This combined with the cultured and respectful upbringing by parents Jyothi and Pravin Sitaram, is bound to fetch Shriya many accolades and spiritual satisfaction through this divine Bharathanatyam journey.



(Photographs courtesy: Ajai Thirumalai. )

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