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Festivals Of India By Nrityanjali

Sujatha Krishnan

You would agree with me if you were in the audience or an inside observer, as I was on June 25, 2005 from 5.30 to 7.30 pm that the 70 students of Nrityanjali gave a dazzling performance.  The theme  was ‘Festivals of India’. The stage was lit up with talent, colorful costumes, smiling faces and
charming choreography. Jothi Raghavan dancer, teacher, choreographer did the Natuuvangam. The accompanying melodious live music was provided by Geeta Murali for vocals, Durga Krishnan on Veena and Jerry Leake the Multi percussionist. Sravanthi Madala (Jothi’s student ) and Kiruba Dharaneeswaran did the stage lightning. Yours truly was the Master of Ceremonies.

When I asked Jothi what inspired her to put this program together on ‘Festivals of India’, the crystal clear answer was "it is for my students. I want to present something fun with my students and to have an all round positive production! This production is dedicated to every single Nrityanjali student and their families"!

In her mind, celebration of the different festivals of India was a beautiful
way to bring together all her students, to show how people from all over India get together to rejoice, share and enjoy the uniqueness of each other, every occasion and life. Jothi had choreographed and visualized common mythological story lines connected with each ‘festival’, incorporating specific characters, objects, qualities, emotions with various forms of natural and
cosmic elements.

The students of Nrityanjali took us on a lightening tour of five different Indian festivals, with a major influence from southern India. Sankrathi or Pongal, Holi, Ganesh Chathurti, Navarathri, Dipavali, starting from February- March going all the way through October- November. These were celebrated but with a twist, a melange of unique flavors, elaborating on certain practices of the region. We saw dedication, devotion and euphoric swirling around each festival, transporting all of us to a different space. The students maintained strict rules that apply to Bharatha Natyam (Nritta and Nritya). From the youngest student to the most advanced student (grade 1 - High School) and to the special Mom-dancers that call themselves ‘senior citizens’ all adhered to uncompromising skill levels that Jothi expects and has achieved.

The entire show was a constant uplift to the viewers spirit, with scintillating music, dance and costumes. It was a hot sizzling afternoon with no air-conditioning, but the performance went off without a dull moment, keeping the 350 people strong audience focused, not wanting to miss a beat or step.

“Festivals of India – are celebrations that we hear so much about, but we
cannot experience them as we are far away from India. Participation in this production is such a great learning experience for all of us. We learned so much about the festivals as well as many elaborate dances from Jothi aunty" said Renuka Bhisetti who was one of the senior dancers.  Another senior dancer Harita Dharaneeswaran said, “ This is a massive effort
by one single person, with seventy kids chattering or running around, and parents asking hundreds of questions. Jothi Aunty took care of everything. This stress did not diminish her creativity in choreographing and producing this show”.

The show was well put together and congratulations to Jothi for doing such a wonderful job.


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