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Sakhis - Through The Ages

Mouli Pal

Dance enthusiasts in New England have been enriched with the presence of highly skilled dancers who are acclaimed for their collaborative efforts and selfless contribution towards philanthropic causes.

"Through the Ages" held on  27th October at Keefe Tech  High School was such an initiative of the" Sakhi Group" that brought together several eminent Bharatnatyam dancers in a fabulous repertoire produced as a fundraiser benefiting Asha for education.

Presented within the traditional frame work of a Bharatnatyam repertoire the dancers innovatively brought together a sequence of rarely performed pieces that were refreshingly contemporary in appeal. Initially conceptualized by Poornima Krishnan who also coordinated the entire production, the dancers choreographed the pieces based on popularly known Carnatic songs.

The evening began with "Pushpanjali", an invocatory piece offering flowers to the Supreme Lord, the Gurus, the accompanying artists and the audience for an auspicious beginning. Choreographed by Jeyanthi Ghatraju the dance was based on music by Madurai Muralidharan and performed by Sangita Raghunathan, Sujatha Meyyappan and Thenu Rajan which set the tone for a promising evening.

Next, the dancers presented a krithi offering to Lord Ganesha by performing "Mahaganapathim" describing the glory of the virtuous Lord. The vibrant piece choreographed by Shwetha Nirmal was performed by Suman Adishesh, Vyju Iyengar, Jeyanthi Ghatraju and Shwetha Nirmal.

Well coordinated postures highlighted the duet "Omkara Nathanu" presented by Sujatha Meyyappan and Suman Adisesh which was choreographed by Sangita Raghunathan.  Based on composition by Sri Veturi Sundararamamurthy and featured in the popular movie "Shankarabharanam" the lyrical piece described music as the supreme jewel adorned by Lord Shiva.  

The eternal concept of Dasavatharam was vividly depicted in "Parkadal Alaimele" through captivating choreography by Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Thenu Raajan, Vyju Iyengar and Shwetha Nirmal based on a song that was originally featured in the Tamil movie "Raja Desinghu". Performed by the entire Sakhi group, the final posture depicting Lord Vishnu lying in the cosmic ocean created a transcendental mood.

The next presentation was a melodious "Marathi Abhang" in praise of Lord Vitala popularized by renowned Carnatic vocalist Smt. Aruna Sairam. Choreographed by Thenu Raajan and Poornima Krishnan the lively piece was performed by Shwetha Nirmal, Thenu Raajna and Vyju Iyengar.

The following piece "Narthisidalu" describing the enchanting beauty of a danseuse was choreographed by Suman Adisesh using Karanas. The graceful piece featured unique movements inspired by Temple sculptures and was performed by Sangita Raghunathan, Suman Adisesh , Shwetha Nirmal, and Jeyanthi Ghatraju.

The focal point of the repertoire was the much awaited "Foreign Notes” by the great Carnatic  composer Muttuswamy Dikshitar  whose music is influenced by his exposure to western bands. The creative composition in praise of  Muruga was choreographed by Poornima Krishnan and Prafulla Vellury  and flawlessly executed by the Sakhis through energetic, joyous movements that was a treat for the senses.

In accordance with the traditional "Margam" the repertoire concluded with a "Thillana" choreographed by Shwetha Nirmal which skillfully displayed all the hand mudras to signify the beauty of this ancient art which emotes every aspect of life.

The impressive production was a huge endeavor that highlights the dedication and passion of the extremely committed artists.  Although hailing from diverse lineages of the dance form such as the Pandanallur, Vazhuvoor and Kalakshetra style the performance was extremely well coordinated. The costumes were bright and impressive and adherence to timings enhanced the experience of the audience.

During her presentation, Melliyal Annamalai of "Asha for education" commended the dancers for their effort in raising awareness about the organization. She also urged more volunteers to come forward and support Asha's effort in providing education to marginalized communities in India.

Also notable that apart from being highly trained dancers, the artists are also professionals employed full time in various demanding positions while also teaching at their respective dance Institutes. Their ability to balance work, life and dance certainly is a fruit of their relentless sadhana of the art form.

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