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Laasya Fest Performs Margam


‘Laasya Fest’, the first annual show of Smt. Sapna Krishnan’s dance school,  Laasya School of Dance, Shrewsbury was held on December 8, 2007 at the Notre Dame Church in Worcester, MA. The theme of the show was ‘Margam’ (The Path). The items were arranged to show the path that a student of Bharatanatyam would take on her way to becoming a proficient dancer. It showcased elegant performances by a number of upcoming, talented students, led by the teacher.

The program started with a Rangapooja where all students offered prayers to the Lord of Dance, Nataraja. It was followed by the shloka ‘Aangikam bhuvanam yasya vaachikam sarva vaangmayam aahaaryam chandra thaaraadhi tham numah saathvikam shivam’ performed by some of the youngest students of the school. The children were very expressive in their interpretation of the shloka: ‘we worship Lord Shiva whose bodily movement is the entire universe, whose speech is the language of the universe, and whose ornaments are the moon and the stars’. Next performance was a pleasure to watch with the depiction of various abhinayas by the teacher, Sapna Krishnan, in Shiva Stuti, another dance in praise of the powerful Lord Shiva, the celestial dancer. It was followed by Pushpanjali in Nattai Ragam set to Adi talam. In this dance the performers paid respect to God, guru and the audience.

Alarippu, which means ‘flowering,’ is the first piece in a Bharatanatyam performance that helps to warm up the dancer’s body for the more difficult pieces that would follow. It is a pure nrtta (pure dance) piece in which the dancer displays harmony of movements between the eyes, head, hands, and feet. It was followed by Jathiswaram which is also a purely nritta piece and intersperses swaras and jathis (time beats). The swaras were based on the Kalyani Ragam set to Rupaka talam. Next, the interpretive dance, Shabdam, was performed to the song ‘Aayar Siriya’ in Ragamalika set to misrachapa thalam. This is the first time ‘abhinaya’ is introduced to the Bharatanatyam student. Bhakti rasa is the predominant sentiment in this piece. The dancer praises Lord Krishna, the embodiment of love and divine joy. The gopikas and the animals around Brindavan are lured by the divine flute music of Krishna and the dancer seeks his blessing through this dance. Three senior students Tara Raj, Meenu Rajendraprasad, and Soumitha Rajeevan performed these dances in solo, respectively. Their movements were crisp and performed to perfection.

It was followed by the core piece in Bharatnatyam, Varnam. In this dance form, both the nritta and abhinaya are equally important. Bhakti or devotion is the predominant sentiment in this piece. The dance usually starts off in a slow tempo and ends with quickly changing patterns of the feet and rapid ‘thirmanams’. Three senior students performed to the song ‘Nee manamirangi vantharulavai’ in raga Lathangi set to Adi talam. The song describes how Lord Muruga disguised himself as an old man to win the heart of Valli (his consort), and his courageous deed in ridding the world of the demon, Surapadma. The dancers enchanted the audience with their talent and their love of dance. It was a treat to watch Tara, Meenu and Soumitha perform this piece with grace and charm. It’s been a long time since I have seen a performance by young dancers that was such a pleasure to watch.

The evening wound down with two pieces that were different from the traditional Bharatanatyam dances. Junior students performed “Taka Taka Taka…” a song in praise of “Shakti” based on the composition by the great Tamil poet, Subramanya Bharatiyar. The program ended with the mangalam performed to Ravi Shankar’s composition, which is a salutation to the Elements and the Universe. This was a fusion of Kathak and Bharatanatyam, and had very interesting choreography.

The entire program was choregraphed by Smt. Sapna Krishnan who started learning dance at the age of five from the Late 'Natanam' Shivapalan and had her first solo Bharathantyam performance at the age of eight. She continued studying dance with Kalakshetra Krishnan and then later with Kalamandalam Latha. She started "Laasya School of Dance" in Shrewsbury in 2004. The show was a testament to her dedication and passion for Bharatanatyam. We hope to see more such beautiful performances from her talented students in the future.

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