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Arangetram: Sreya Bommaraju

Meghamsh Kanuparthy

On Saturday, July 25th, 2015, Canton High School played host to the Arangetram of Sreya Bommaraju, a rising sophomore at Sharon High School, and student of Guru Smt. Mangai Raghavan. With excellent instruction and plenty of hard work and talent, the performance showcased the skills of both the master and student, and was accompanied by a talented orchestra.

Sreya began dancing at the age of 4 and has been under the tutelage of her Guru Mangai Raghavan ever since. While, throughout the years, she has had the ability to perform with friends at numerous venues around the Boston area, her Arangetram really showcased her abilities as a dancer.

The event commenced with the welcome address by her parents and a brief talk on Bharathanatyam by Sreya’s guru.  Sreya began with a Ganesh sloka that was followed by Mallari and Alarippu.  Mallari was set to Khanta jathi Triputa Thalam with some complicated foot work and Alarippu was set to Sankeernam.  In the ragamalika Jathiswaram of Tanjavur Quartet, Sreya showcased her skill in rhythm or Nritta.

Having completed her invocation items on her ability on Nritta, Sreya went on to capture the audience’s attention in executing her guru’s choreography, in the central piece of the performance, the Varnam. Her Varnam was based on the life of Lord Rama and celebrated his feats and accomplishments as the avatar of Maha Vishnu.

Set in Karaharapriya ragam in Adi talam, the over 50 minute long display of virtuosity showcased both Sreya’s skill in Nritta as well as Abhinaya.  Sreya had complete command over rhythm and expressions.  There were several Sancharis brought out by Sreya, wherein her expressions enabled even a layman to understand the portrayed characters and stories.  The impact on the audience was spell bound and speechless!  Even after that long Varnam, Sreya was still at ease, calm and composed.  Her Guru Smt. Mangai Raghavan’s selection of songs for Sancharis, choreography and crisp Jathis were flawless.   Power packed Nattuvangam, scintillating music and accompaniments were all perfect.  For an Arangetram to have a Varnam of this caliber is commendable!  Composed by Thenmandalam Narasinhacharulu, the Varnam was a stirring representation of the tale of the Ramayana.

Following a brief intermission, the performance resumed with “Gunijan Aadinutha” that described Goddess Devi and depicts a devotee’s cry for protection.  It was so appealing to see Sreya glide through the entire item like Devi herself.  Next, Sreya danced along to a composition of Annamacharya, “Anaraadu Vinaraadu”, an elegant piece depicting the childhood of Lord Krishna, the pranks he played in the gardens of Vrindavan and the refusal of Yashoda to hear any complaints about her darling child. The next item in her performance was “Kapaalini” with brisk and gripping swarams, that brought out the qualities and greatness of Lord Shiva, as the dancing Nataraja.   The various postures of the lord of dance were picture perfectly depicted.  

Sreya then performed a Javali, which explores the very human aspect of a lover and the worldly desires, which was set in ragam Bhairavi.

The grand finale was a Tillana set to ragam kamas.  This fast-based Tillana showcased Sreya’s ability to deftly perform complex footwork set to a quick tempo, with ease. Sreya concluded the evening with the traditional Mangalam, with a prayer for peace.

The talented and young Srivatsan Raghavan, who provided the vocals for the three-hour-long performance, led the orchestral accompaniment. Gaurishankar Chandrashekar joined him on the Mridangam with his natural rhythmic liveliness, Surya Sundararajan provided the violin accompaniment with melodious music, and Guru Smt. Mangai Raghavan accompanied on the Nattavangam.

The Chief Guest for the evening, Chitra Narayanaswamy, a dancer from Geneva, was all praise for the effort and work by Sreya’s Guru and appreciated the grip on “Sollu-kattu” and Nattuvangam, Sreya’s effortless but fascinating dance and the scintillating music by the orchestra.

Lighting and Audio support were provided by Mark Buchanan and the performance would be lost to history without the work of Kannan Kathiresan (KT Kannan Photography) as photographer and Saravanan Meyyappan as videographer. Sreya’s natural beauty was augmented by makeup work by Smt. Sujatha Kannan.

It’s cliché to say that it takes a village to raise a child, but in this case it certainly took a village of kind and dedicated individuals to put on this Arangetram.

At the end of her performance, Sreya took time to thank all of the people that made her performance possible: her parents, Sandhya and Jagadesh, her younger brother Rohan, her guru, the musicians, all of the assembled relatives and guests.  Her parents ended with a high note thanking everyone who helped in bringing this Arangetram together.

We should be reminded that there are only a few days in life that are culminations; every other day is part of a process. Sreya’s Arangetram was certainly one of the former, celebrating eleven years of hard work, evening lessons, homework done in the car, and hours spent in the basement practicing. However, this is still part of the process of growing as a dancer and artist that Sreya will now embark on for years to come. We look forward to seeing her future performances.

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