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Rangapravesha: Pallavi Nagesha

Shuchita Rao

For a little girl in India who draped a cloth towel around her body like a sari, walked with a pronounced dancer’s swagger swaying  a long braid behind her back, and who expectantly asked her older sister if she resembled  South Indian film star Jayapradha, it was dream come true 25-30 years later in her journey through life. She waited patiently while  other facets of her life such as getting good education, marriage, starting a professional career that matched her educational background, nourishing two young children and family with the support of a loving husband, took priority before she could put her personal goals on the front burner .What is important is that she never lost sight of her dream-to learn Indian Classical dance Bharatanatyam, to put forth a public performance and to dance like a star.

On Saturday, March 28, 2010, Pallavi Nagesha, disciple of Poornima Risbud presented her Rangapravesha  at Joseph P. Keefe Technical school auditorium before an audience of approximately 300 members consisting of family, friends, co-workers and well-wishers. A technical writer by profession and mother of a 12 year old Anirudh, and 7 year old Amartya, Pallavi looked remarkably young and danced with tremendous agility, no different than a 15-16 year old high school student performing a dance Rangapravesha. Dance lessons, regular dance practice combined with a swimming exercise regimen helped her in maintaining her figure and in disciplining her mind.

Pallavi’s Rangapravesha started with a traditional Pushpanjali and Vandana to Lord Natraja, the God of dance. The composition was in a Raagamalika and set to Aditaala. It was followed by slokas to Lord Ganesha and Goddess of prosperity, Mahalakshmi. Alarippu, a dance item showing  “Nritta” came next with the spotlight on footwork. Jathiswara, composed in Saveri Raga and set to Roopaka Tala was also more of a footwork intensive piece but with beautiful sculpturesque poses performed by Pallavi. The centerpiece of the presentation was the Varnam composed in Shankarabharana raga and set to Adi tala. Composed by Dandayudapani Pillai, “Sakhiye indha jaalam” portrayed sentiments of the Nayika’s (heroine’s ) laments to her sakhi(friend) to bring her beloved Lord Krishna to her. Geetha Murali’s melodious singing, accompaniments by Rasika Murali on violin, Arun Saigal on Mridangam, Soundarya Ganesh on Veena,Suresh Mathur on  flute and Nattuvangam by Guru Poornima Risbud added to the beauty of the Varnam which was performed by Pallavi with grace and precision.

Post-intermission, Bhuvana Ganesh provided wonderful vocal support for the second half of the performance. Pallavi performed a Purandaradasa Keerthane in Mohana Raga describing the epic deeds of Lord Shiva  - this item involved aspects of abhinaya(enactment). Pallavi portrayed Lord Kama portraying his bhakti with calm devotion and as powerful Shiva, portraying his rage  and anger in alternate movements within the same dance item . In Antahpura geete, Pallavi brought to life the beauty and grandeur of the inner sanctum  and the sculptures carved on the stone walls of Belur-Halebid temples in Karnataka.  In a Devarnama composition in Raga Hamsadhwani, a dramatic depiction of Mahishasura Mardini was performed with vigor by Pallavi. Rasika Murali’s violin and Arun Saigal’s Mridangam accompaniment was particularly  beautiful in this presentation. It is heartening to note that Boston area music teachers are raising a competent generation of talented youngsters who are proving that they can present able solo performances as well as assist with accompaniment in 2 to 3 hour long dance recitals with alacrity and ease. A  Thillana composed by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal in praise of Lord Padmanabha in a striking  Bhupala raagam composition by Dr. Balamurali Krishna followed the Devarnama. The Thillana choreography by Guru Poornima Risbud was stunning. Pallavi then danced “Korvanji” ,a folk dance  with feisty spirit and joyous abandon. The dance revolved around the theme of a humorous portrayal of a fortune teller’s predictions of the marital fate of a young girl in the hands of a dominating mother-in-law and a loving husband. Pallavi’s makeup and hairstyle, colorful gypsy costume, intense facial expressions and energetic dancing as well as suitable musical accompaniment successfully depicted a dance rooted in  folk tradition. With Mangalam prayer “Shankaraaya Shankaraaya Shankaraaya Mangalam”, Pallavi Nagesha successfully concluded her Rangapravesha.

Guru Poornima Risbud commended Pallavi’s efforts in an encouraging speech and presented to her a graduation certificate and gift from her school “RasaRang School  of Performing Arts.” Emcee Dr. Vanita Shastri’s elegant commentaries preceding every dance item, beautiful hand painted decorations by Suneha Kadamdiwan, lobby and stage decorations by Seema, engaging speeches made by Pallavi, her husband Venkat, son Anirudh, older sister Anantha Priya  and delicious dinner that ensued the Rangapravesha made the event a memorable one.

From the long line of admirers and well-wishers waiting to compliment Pallavi  after the Rangapravesha, it was clear that Pallavi had impressed people not only with her dance skills but with her ability to dream big, to hold the dream close to her heart for over 25-30 years and to bring it to fruition with single-minded focus, dedication to learning an artform, sustained physical exercise and dance practice. Pallavi  Nagesha succeeded in reminding all of us what George Elliot once said “ It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

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Photo Credit: Ganesh Davuluri

Photo Credit: Ganesh Davuluri

Photo Credit: Ganesh Davuluri

Photo Credit: Ganesh Davuluri

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