“Arched brows, beautiful red lips sporting a broad smile with dreadlocks of hair and a perfect body shining like a jewel, standing up on his toe with one foot lifted”, in describing Lord Shiva in a composition of “Kunittha Puruvamum” Veteran Guru and Teacher Padma Bhushan CV Chandrasekhar brought Bharathanatyam alive in Sydney, flying in to give the performance the very next day of receiving the highest civilian award in India the Padma Bhushan in Delhi.
“Perhaps there are not a lot of people in the audience who are older than me, yet I seek your blessings and thank you for joining me in my journey of dance to which I have dedicated my life”, said Padma Bhushan Prof Chandrasekhar totally at ease after a three hour performance of simply mesmerizing pure bharathanatyam.
Classicism spelt in every movement, posture, placement, coverage, angle in today’s dance. Each time the audience sat breathless through a complicated jati and stood up to applaud only to be drowned and moved by yet another improvised expression through the evening. A world class communicator in action, he made bharathanatyam inspiring reaching out to all in the audience.
Dedicating the programme to the three tamil composers, Tamil trinities, Muthu Thandavar, Marimmutthu Pillai and Arunachala Kavirayyar Prof CVC commenced the programme with his own composition in ragam Navarasa Kannada set to Mishra Chapu for the Alarippu setting the standard for the evening
The Varnam, a composition of Papanasam Sivan, “Swami Naan Undham Adhimai, Ullagam Ellam Adhimai” [Oh Lord! I am, at your Mercy !”] set to ragam nattakurinji in thalam adhi, was preceded by a Thevaram “kuniththa Puruvamum” describing Lord Shiva in his full glory and beauty received a standing ovation. The artists Nattuvangam – Chidambaram R. Suresh, Singer – Ahilan (Melbourne), Mirudangam – Yogaraja Kandasamy (Melbourne) and Violin – Suresh Babu (India), making for an all male cast, were resounding.
Prof CVC introduced each of his accompanying artists stating that they had but met only yesterday, at the end of the show, congratulated Nattuvangist R Suresh for his improvisations who he said egged him on to be creative in his improvisations.
He continued with another popular piece of Arunachala kavirayar in ‘Yaro Ivar Yaro’ followed by ‘Kaalai thooki’ a composition of Marimuthu Pillai set to Yadhukula Kambhoji, one of my favourites. What followed in the thillana was exceptional and Prof CVC showed his continued agility flexibility and innovation in a rhythm set to Mathya Thalam. Again one of his own compositions, a mesmerized audience could not stop clapping.
Bharathanatyam Teacher Hamsa Venkat sums it up well. She states “The picture perfect aramandi, natyarambam, swasthikam and prayankanam were an absolute delight to watch. Most dancers understand these postures in theory but very few practice it ….even popular established dancers get away with not keeping these positions/postures.Every move was completed to the last dot, extending to the infinite. Since the margam was initially set for a Tamizh moovar festival in Melbourne all items were in Tamizh but language was no barrier, the angika abhinaya and bhavam were so expressive and explicit that every single person in the audience from a 4 year old to 80 year old were totally immersed. Choreography very traditional, as the name of the program suggested, it was indeed an entire heritage, centuries old, in expression yesterday not merely a dance performance”.
We have to thank the Samarpana School of Fine Arts in Sydney run by his disciples Shobana and Suresh, two humble young dedicated bharathanatyam dancers and the Melbourne Team who invited him to the Tamil Moovar Festival held recently in Melbourne, for giving us this evening.
By Aruna Subbiah [Gandhimathinathan]
Watching Prof. C.V.Chandrashekar’s Bharatanatyam performance on Sunday evening, here in Sydney, I was wonderstruck at his dedication to the artform, his will-power, focus, hardwork and a continuous flow of abundant energy that knows no end… A true legend, he stands tall as a tower of inspiration for the younger generation of Bharatanatyam artistes and students all over the world.
Be it his beautiful execution of adavus, aesthetic choreography with interesting mathematical patterns and incorporating the rigorous ‘muzhumandi’ postures in the ‘mandi adavus’ and ‘sharukkal adavus’, alongwith the graceful nadai-s (walk) or the snappy aradhi-s with a playful touch, he immersed the audience in a visual treat at its best.
All those decades of experience as a veteran artiste, were seen in the subtlety and clarity of his abhinaya. I would like to recall here his performance at The Music Academy’s dance festival in Chennai, about three years ago, which I had watched alongwith my guru Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy. “Completely effortless and amazing”, my guru had said that day…Those words still lingered in my mind as I saw Prof. CVC on stage, here in Sydney.
For the learning experience of dance students around the world, and as a document preserving the tradition and art of Prof. CVC, the music company Super Audio in Chennai has brought out a DVD of his performance in its ‘Legends Series’. As my guru Prof. Sudharani was instrumental in recording this performance, I had the unique opportunity of being part of the editorial team that brought out this DVD, a treasure for dance rasikas.
As the convenor of the ‘Natya Sangraham’ dance camp organized by Narada Gana Sabha in the temple town of Thennagur, near Chennai, every year for over 10 years now, Prof. CVC shared his expertise and interacted with students of all ages as though he was one amongst them. Learning from him at those workshops always enriched me with new experiences.
Prof. CVC’s performance on Sunday evening didn’t happen just like that. By putting in hours of practice everyday at his small ground-floor flat in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, constantly engaging himself in teaching students all through the year, traveling across seas to give performances, and even attending the dance recitals of all the young artistes who invite him, Prof. CVC strives towards one goal – of preserving and showcasing the traditional style of Bharatanatyam…
Humbled before his greatness as an artiste, I offer my salutations to a Guru we all revere…
Aruna Subbiah [Gandhimathinathan] is the Founder-Director, Silambam-Sydney School of Indian Traditional Dance