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Dancing Around The World In 19 Days

Anjana Shenoy

It’s not as easy as saying it, but it’s exactly what we did. With my Guru, Smt. Sapna Krishnan and her disciples, Madhumita and Nilanjana Nambiar, I danced first in Dubai and then in Chennai, India.

It was not the experience I had imagined it to be. From the moment I hesitantly pledged to perform, it was hard work, but it was worth it. We practiced a lot, learning a varnam in two or three weeks, a thillana in a few days, and a mallari in a week. There were so many things to take care of, like planning the items, choreographing, teaching, arranging the orchestra etc. when it came to travelling and performing. But Sapna Aunty did it all. I was thrilled and extremely proud to be performing with my Guru. It was the biggest blessing I could ever have. I also finally got to dance in front of my whole family, including my grandfather, who (I was really happy to know) could make it to the performance. My family had travelled from all over India to watch me and I appreciated that. All through my mom and Sapna Aunty encouraged me and I’m a proud daughter and student at this point.

We started our journey from Boston to the Middle East on December 19th, 2011. On December 24; we were finally there – on stage – in Dubai. Our performance started at 8:00 pm in Global Village. There were tons of people there – as far as I could see. It was scary. I was on the edge of running away, but as soon as I plunged into the Mallari (the invocatory item), I made myself forget about everything. I pretended that the audience wasn’t watching and then I really assured myself that they didn’t know anything about Bharatanatyam. All that practicing – it paid off. The program went by smoothly and before I knew it we were doing the Thillana (the piece that comes towards the end of a performance). So it wasn’t that hard, was it? It’s just the beginning that makes me all shiver. The prospect of going on stage with a many people around you is freaky… and all their eyes are turned towards you too.

The next day, we were on a plane – off to Chennai, India! I was excited and nervous about the next program! The main point was that I was going to perform during the Marghazhi Festival Season in Chennai, when many Music/Dance concerts happen through out the city. After reaching there, we watched concerts of famous singers and dancers, such as T.M. Krishna, Priyadarshini Govind (I met her in person!), the Malladi brothers, and Neyveli R. Santhanagopalan. I also enjoyed rehearsing with the orchestra. Their music was perfectly coordinated. The vocalist, Sudev Warrier, the Mridangist, K. S. Sudhaman, the flutist, C.K. Pathanjali, and the veena player, G.R.S. Murthy were really accomplished and distinguished artists in their own filed. The Nattuvangam was done by Sajilal Narayanan, a faculty at Kalakshetra, one of the premier dance institutes in Chennai.

I waited for the clock to tick to 7:30 pm on January 5. Nilanjana being sick the week of the program was a concern for everybody. We weren’t sure if she would recover in time for the program, if she would be able to dance. A lot of dances depended on her. What if she couldn’t make it? How would we fill her spot in? On the day of the performance, we even made last minute adjustments to the choreography of most of the dances. I was scared. What if I forgot my part? Lucky for me, she was up and about by the time of the program. She danced her part beautifully and we all did ours. We performed all the dances, which were well-knitted and beautifully choreographed by Sapna Aunty. Little Madhumita became the “darling” of the audience with her performance as ‘Krishna’ in ‘Enna Tavam’ and her solo dance ‘Devan ke pathi Indra’. Sapna Aunty’s superb ‘abhinaya’ brought out the emotional depths of the dances. And me…I don’t know what I did, but I felt really proud of myself at the end of the program. I had never performed that well on stage in my life. Even at the end of the program, I could feel energy coursing through my body, wanting to burst. But I kept it in and calmed it. I’m not usually a really energetic person (I’m shyer), so it was a new feeling for me. Being a part of the Lasya School of Dance under the tutelage of Sapna Aunty for the past 5 years, I had found and realized my passion for dance!

While journeying back to America, we got an upgrade to business class on Jet Airways, which I felt was a treat for us. I felt that I left part of myself back on that stage in India…always dancing. I felt a connection to India’s rich cultural heritage. I learned from Sapna aunty that we are doing another program back in Boston on February 25th for raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis Society. Another exciting event to look forward to for such a great cause! I can’t wait!

The feeling of accomplishment – dancing around the world in 19 days and the anticipation of dancing soon with the team back in USA filled my thoughts throughout my journey back!

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