Arangetram: Anjali Viswanath
Anjali Viswanath presented her Bharatha Natyam arangetram at the Regis College on September 15, 2013. Anjali is a disciple of Guru Smt. Sunanda Narayanan of the Thillai Fine Arts Academy in Newton, MA. Guru Sunanda is an acclaimed performer and teacher of the Vazhuvoor bani of Bharatha Natyam and a senior disciple of the renowned Guru Smt. Rhadha.
Anjali presented a delightful program that demonstrated a sound foundation in the elements of Bharatha Natyam and that entirely fulfilled the standards expected of Guru Sunanda’s students. The repertoire was rooted in the classical margam but then conceived and presented with the unique artistic stamp of Bharatha Natyam from the Thillai school.
Anjali opened the recital with a Thodaya Mangalam dedicated to the Gods of Vazhuvoor, the origins of Guru Sunanda’s artistic lineage. This was followed by the traditional Pushpanjali and Alarippu in Mishra Nadai. Innovative flourishes, in thoughtful measure but never to excess, were evident right from the Alarippu - variations in direction and pirouettes in the conventional side passages as well fluid leaps into variations of the resting mandi position created interesting visual dimension. The alarippu was followed by a Jathiswaram in Rasikapriya. Even prior to the varnam, the first half of the recital comprised of demanding pieces all of which Anjali delivered with poise- a testament to the rigor of her training.
The interlude that preceded the varnam was used for a presentation on the basics of the Carnatic music system by Gurus Smt. Tara Bangalore and Smt. Durga Krishnan. Guru Tara described the Carnatic musician as a “composer performer” and in her imitable way, distilled the complexity of Carnatic music into an explanation that benefited the uninitiated as well as those who perhaps had not perceived this incredible art form beyond song. Guru Tara explained concepts of Raga (“scales with endless possibilities but also with a series of musical obligations”), Gamakam (“ornamentation”) and Thalam which were then brought to life by the accomplished members of the orchestra.
For the centerpiece of the recital, Anjali presented the beautiful Dharu Varnam, “Mathe Malayathvaja” by Sri Harikesha Nallur Mutthaiah Bhagavathar. Dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, the Varnam extolls the glory of the Goddess as the dark hued warrior princess and beloved of Lord Shiva. The rigorous choreography placed equal part demand on Nritta and Abhinaya and commanded focus and ability in performance. The Nritta passages, from the double jathi sequences in the first half to the brisk swara passages in the latter half, were challenging in movement patterns and sophisticated in rhythmic structure. The Abhinaya passages depicted tales of Goddess Meenakshi and depictions of the Goddess studded the entire piece, from the mukthayi swara passage to the arudhi passages, to lovely effect. Anjali’s earnest rendition of this piece fulfilled technical and artistic intent and proved her a most worthy disciple.
The second half of the recital featured traditional and contemporary compositions set to dance by Guru Sunanda. The first piece, Anandha Natam Aduvar in the Ragam Purvi Kalyani, depicted the glory of Lord Nataraja’s dancing form, infinite and the very source of salvation for humanity. In this piece, Anjali presented an inspired sanchari portraying the churning of the Ocean during which the Lord, as Neelakanta, saved mankind as He swallowed poison spewed by the serpent Vasuki. In the next piece, a Tulsidas Bhajan, Anjali adeptly depicted vignettes from the Ramayana including Bharatha’s sorrow at Rama’s exile from Ayodhya, Rama’s encounter with the boatsman and great bhaktha Guha and Seetha’s abduction by Ravana. Next followed a Mira Bhajan in which Anjali portrayed stories from the life of Mira, the princess of Mewar who was derided by the court and subjects for her love of Krishna. Anjali performed the Abhinaya pieces with involvement, effectively conveying mood and bhava. Anjali concluded her recital with the Dhanashri thillana by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, danced with grace and precision.
Guru Sunanda led the orchestra with élan. The veteran orchestra team comprised of the renowned musicologist, Smt. Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, Smt. Ramya Rangarajan, Guru Smt. Tara Anand on violin, Sri Murali Balachandran on mridangam, Smt. Durga Krishnan on Veena and Sri G. S. Rajan on flute. It goes without saying that the presence and absolute caliber of these senior artists greatly enriched this experience for Anjali and the audience.
The expert use of lighting to vivid but unobtrusive effect requires particular mention and is but one example of the aesthetic details that enhanced the entire presentation.
With this debut, Anjali becomes another proud product of the Thillai School. We wish her continued achievement in Bharatha Natyam and await her future successes.
You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/