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Arangetram: Luxshmi Sivalogan

Kasthuri Sivalogan

New England’s first Sri Lankan Tamil guru-shishya Bharathanatya arangetram - also the guru’s debut arangetram in New England - charmed the appreciating audience at Norwood High School, MA on Saturday, July 20. Sri Lankan Tamil born guru Smt. Subathira Janarthanan, and her prodigy Selvi Luxshmi Sivalogan, daughter to Sri Lankan Tamil born parents, presented a classical NorthEast (Sri Lankan) Tamil style arangetram. The traditional “panthal” at the entrance, welcoming entryway and stage props along with the ten Tamil based dance items, complimented the Tamil themed arangetram. After a quick introduction by Luxshmi’s parents, Siva and Ananthy Sivalogan, and her guru, the arangetram took off and Luxshmi’s energy, the guru’s vibrant and intricate dance choreography coupled with the lively orchestra captivated the packed auditorium.

The event began with a short traditional and inspiring invocation song by the vocalist and Luxshmi opened her debut with a stirring Ganesha Stuthi in ragam Nattai set to Adi talam. This was followed by a traditional Allaripu in Thisram with precise and crisp dance movements. The Jathiswaram in ragam Saveri set to Rupakam talam kept the audience spell-bound with the execution of adavus and the interplay of jathis (long sequence of movements) and swaram (musical notes). The Ganesha Stuthi, Allarippu and Jathiswaram, all with subtle Tamil flavor, set the pace for the rest of evening and energized the audience.

After a quick introduction of the guru and accompanying orchestra, Luxshmi continued with Murugan Kauthuvam in ragam Shanmugapriya set to Rupakam talam. This invocatory hymn in praise of six-faced Lord Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi allowed Luxshmi to show case expressions emulating Lord Muruga as the one who was born from the “forehead eye” of Lord Shiva, the one who married Kuramahal Valli, the one who destroyed Mahisasura, and who is referred to by different names such as Kumaran, Arumugan, Varathan, Saravanabhavan, Alahan and more.

Luxshmi continued, after a short music interlude and change of costume, with a pure Tamil style Varnam in ragam Thodi set to Adi talam. The Varnam, in praise of Sri Lankan Thirukoneswaram Temple chief deity Lord Shiva, shed light on Luxshmi’s fluency in blending the “natya” and “nritta” to perfection and displayed mastery of both her rhythmic footwork and creative “abhinaya”, her facial expressions.

The second half continued with a bang with Luxshmi, in a another costume, performing the “Ullagam Pugalum” in ragam Ragamalika set to Adi talam  illustrating the beauty and grace behind the art form of dance. The lyrics articulated the flawless image and strength that dance gives to the body and the ability for dance to highlight Luxshmi’s natural expressions. The dance aims to remove all sorrows and fills the audience will absolute joy. The final lyrics instructed Luxshmi to respect and study under her guru to perfect this beautiful art form and the dance was received well by the audience - Luxshmi excelled and expressed every sequence of the theme expertly. This was followed by a lively and expertly choreographed Padam in ragam Chenchurutti set to Adi talam. The guru’s expert choreography of the “Vishamakara Kannan” song, Luxshmi’s vibrancy and fluidity coupled with the orchestra’s superb sound effects livened the audience.

Next followed an Ambal Stuthi in ragam Kedaragowla set to Adi talam followed in which Luxshmi praises Goddess Ambal, one of the many incarnations of Goddess Parvathi, who combines the powers of all the Devas and after nine days of fierce fighting, destroys the demon Mahishasura to rescue the Devas and marries Lord Shiva.

With the audience on her side, Luxhsmi continued with the vibrant and fast-paced Thillana in ragam Paras set to Adi talam expressing exuberant joy and intricate rhythmic variations set to uplifting music. Luxshmi indulged herself in pure nritta with beautiful lyrics reflecting the brilliance of the raga in the complex and vibrant footwork. The Thillana was quickly followed by the concluding Mangalam symbolizing the auspicious end and marking the completion of her arangetram. Luxshmi thanked her guru, the artists and the audience who in-turn gave a standing ovation for her debut performance.

Guru Smt. Subathira Janarathan, in her debut in New England, brought out the best in NorthEast Tamil choreography, with her nattuvangam articulating vibrant and intricate jathis. The guru was accompanied by a highly talented group of musicians from South India; the melodious singing by vocalist Selvi K. R. Sudharani, rhythmic percussion by Sri Ramesh Ramalingappa on miridangam, the versatile and memorable Sri Madurai Srinivasan Kannan on the violin, and the harmonious flutist Sri Tangore C. V. Sudhakar, who were all instrumental in Luxshmi’s successful arangetram.

Luxshmi’s elder sister Kasthuri Sivalogan, as the Master of Ceremony co-managed the arangetram with guru Smt. Subathira Janarthanan adding color to the successful NorthEast Tamil themed Bharathanatya arangetram.

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