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Lokvani Talks To Vision-Aid Team

Ranjani Saigal

The most anticipated dance event of the year, the annual Vision-Aid dance drama production Karna will be presented on Sunday, July 22 at the Littleton High School Auditorium at 4:00 pm. Coproducers Suja Meyyappan, Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Thenu Rajan, Hema Iyengar and Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy talk about the production which is created by Guru Madurai R. Muralidaran.

Jeyanthi Ghatraju has been part of the Vision-Aid team for 10 years. " The opportunity to learn from renowned gurus, appreciating each other’s strengths beyond the realm of one’s own guru and style and presenting professional productions is really wonderful" says Jeyanthi. Why does she think this production is special? "It has bee a true opportunity for so many dancers who have had to take a break. Be it post arangetram dancers or come-back dancers who took a break due to personal obligations, they always tell me what a reassuring impact our Vision-Aid productions have left in them to aspire and reach great heights. The production is a truly enriching collaboration amongst like-minded artists coming to fruition. It is a positive way of bringing the community together"

"This is my 9th year participating in Vision-Aid and 5th year as a Co-producer. It is always been an absolute joy to to be part of the wonderful selfless Vision-Aid team in working towards a cause of helping the visually challenged people. Vision-Aid provides an incredible opportunity for the local New England dancers to work with doyens of dance field such as Guru Madurai R Muralidaran by bringing his Broadway style mega production involving 70+ dancers, amazing audio, video components, props and so on. A big credit goes to the healthy environment and relationship among the dance community, teachers and art lovers of New England. I am thrilled to see young dancers getting inspired and come back year after year and that is the reason I love doing this every year!", says Sujatha Meyyappan

This year's production "Golden Armor, Golden Heart" , the story of Karna - one of the greatest selfless warrior. A man who would never refuse the  request for any gift or donation, howsoever costly that might be and irrespective of the consequences of giving to his own well being or security. This is an apt story to stage for Vision-Aid fund raiser - as it portrays an epic hero who offered everything he had to the people in need at all times - a truly inspiring story! Guru Muralidaran sir has sculpted this production in a way that remind us all about  the core values of life and what it means to giving back to the community. He has raised the bar yet again with his marvelous choreography and powerful storytelling that will surely captivate the mind of audience and will be a visual treat! I strongly believe that the NE community will support the cause of Vision-Aid during this year 2018 just as the hero of our production "Karna" did to the entire humanity through his selfless donations!

For  Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, a second generation Indian Amercian this is a very special opportunity. "This is my fifth Vision-Aid production, and my third as a co-producer. I love being part of the Vision-Aid productions because of the people I get to work with—encouraging enthusiastic and sincere children, enjoying the camaraderie of our tribe of New England dance teachers, learning dance and wisdom from Guru Muralidaran and being inspired by the selfless work of the Vision-Aid volunteers," says Sripriya.
"As a second-generation American, I especially love the opportunity to work with children who are growing up with one foot each in Indian and American cultures, and love seeing how this younger generation seems to come to terms with being American and Indian at the same time much at a much earlier age than I did—it makes me very happy and hopeful to be around these amazing youngsters, and I am grateful for the opportunity to mentor any of them in some small way.  Drama is a wonderful jumping point for deep discussions.  I can have a discussion with these kids about the parallel themes between Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” and Guru Madurai R. Muralidaran’s “Karna” -- orphan child, belittled by others because of his origins, earned his reputation by his own extraordinary skill and dedication, downfall due to his treatment of a woman, died in a battle where he was blameless and yet is still revered by history.  I love to hear the kids ask questions about the story of Karna and the Mahabharatha, and to help them make connections between themselves and the characters.  This production is remarkable, even among Guru Muralidaran’s many stirring productions, for its emotional impact"
"Being able to participate in a community production like Karna, gives me great pride and pleasure as it is a great opportunity for me personally to work with numerous talented artist from all over New England. There is always something new to learn from Guru/Director - Madurai Muralidharan , my peers and other artists, whether it is embellishing the right expressions or perfecting Bharatanatyam steps. This is my first time being a Co-Producer for the show but I have participated 6 times in the dance drama production for Vision-Aid", says Hema Iyengar, who runs the Center for Arts and Wellness. "I strongly believe that the sentiment and concept behind a community production brings together the values and beliefs of our center. The ability of such a production to spread cultural values using the essence of fine art of Bharatanatyam dance; at the same time achieving higher purpose of supporting a non-profit organization such as Vision-Aid, is truly commendable. There is immense gratification to know that the hard work put in by each participant is helping vision impaired children in India to create a brighter future! It is truly an honor to be part of such a noble and artistic endeavor for last 10 years."


"This is my fourth year participating in the Vision-Aid Production and it's my first year as a co-producer. It always gives me an immense joy and honor to be part of Vision-Aid's productions year after year as I get the opportunity to collaborate with talented local artists and playing a small role towards Vision-Aid's vision and mission. Additionally, I find this an amazing experience learning and working with the creator of this production and guru, Muralidharan sir", says Thenu Raajan.

"As a dance teacher, I find an immense value for students playing a role in this production. The greatness of our Indian heritage is portrayed through the storytelling of our rich Ithihasas (Epics) and Puranas (mythology). Through mega productions such as "Golden Armor,Golden Heart" the students and participants gain to experience the essence of our epics, first hand. Its one thing when reading or hearing about the valor and virtues of an icon such as Karna. Its a totally different and fulfilling experience when you are on the stage with Karna himself. One gets to live and reflect on the great virtues, depicted by the characters in our Epics. Also, aspiring students get to learn the nuances of this art under the expert guidance of Guru Madurai  R Muralidharan himself and also the fine art of performing by working with fellow artists and our New England teachers. In addition, through Vision-Aid's productions, participants become directly involved in Vision-Aid's noble cause. It is my hope by working along with Vision-Aid, they too can become champions of this cause"

About the Co-Producers

Jeyanthi Ghatraju is a Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and teacher with a mission to perform for the needy. She has been recognized with the US President’s gold service award in 2014 and 2018. Jeyanthi offers online programs in Performing Arts through her affiliation with Alagappa University in India and several students have graduated. Jeyanthi has conducted several arangetrams and loves to collaborate with artists from different art forms.

 Sujatha Meyyappan, an acclaimed Bharatanatyam Dancer, Choreographer and Artistic Director of Kolam Academy of Dance in Tyngsboro & Andover, MA and has produced shows like  Shivoham, Kavi Nrithyam, & Omkaram, Porpatham. Many of Suja's students have won several competitions and awards for their excellence in Bharatanatyam performance in NE area.  She has co-ordinated and Co-Produced fundraisers for many charitable causes including Vision-Aid. She also serves as the co-chair of Tyngsboro Cultural Council and on the board of TMM. 

Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, a dancer, teacher and choreographer, has been actively involved in several Vision-Aidproductions since 2010, serving as co-producer for the past two years.  In 1999, she co-founded MIT Natya, one of the first collegiate Indian classical dance organizations in the nation. She currently pursues advanced training under Guru Madurai R. Muralidaran, and is in her seventh year as the director of Abhinaya Natya Sala in Framingham, MA.

Hema Iyengar – Bharatanatyam Dancer, Teacher, Entrepreneur.  Hema Iyengar, a full time IT professional in the health care industry and is also passionate about classical dance. She feels that dance is an expression of our inner feeling. She has been following her passion of dancing as a part time profession for more than 15 years.  In 2006, Hema founded the “NrityaAnjali School of Dance” and has been giving group and private lessons for youngsters and adults. She is now Co-Founder/Director of “Center for Arts and Wellness”. The vision of Center for Arts and Wellness id to provide the community with a wider array of classical

Thenu Raajan is the creative director, choreographer and instructor of Apsaras Academy of arts in Bellingham, Massachusetts. She works as a full time Pharmacy Inventory consultant in CVS Health, Rhode Island. Thenu nurtures her students to explore and experience the greatness of our epics through abhinaya. Through this, she hopes to foster a sense of passion for this divine art, in her students.In 2011, she received the Excellence Award from Lokvani e magazine for being a dedicated dancer in the New England area. She has been performing frequently with fellow artists from the New England area and has been involved actively in Vision-Aid’s productions since 2009. 

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