“That looks really heavy, is it ?” I asked when I saw a little girl carrying this humungous Kavadi. “No, its not too heavy” she said as she rolled her eyes and skipped on. Inadvertently, the little girl’s reply rightly describes the Show ‘Aadal Kaanero’ held at the Bankstown Town Hall last week by Natyanjali Australia.
Attracting young minds to take on the arduous disciplined approach to learning classical Indian Dance forms is purely hard work especially to produce a show with substance in two weeks. An impossible task not only for the teachers but the parents and the children themselves. It is also an expensive one. Nevertheless, Natyanjali Australia, has taken on this task as a challenge and for the second year produced a successful show in trying to bring together the community of teachers, schools and dancers through the production of Aadal Kaanero. Under the guidance of Gayatri Krishnamurthy, the show was curated, directed and narrated by India’s famous Dance personality, Radhika Shurajit.
It had all the workings of an eye catching virtual celluloid production. A tribute to ML Vasanthakumari, the great doyen of music “Aadal Kaanero” was therefore celebrated in colorful costumes with breathtaking formations and choreography of her songs, bringing the nostalgia of the music of tamil movies from her era. Songs such as Aadal Kaanero, Baro Krishnaiyya, Aadum Arul Jothi and other evergreen melodies including “Aaya Saami” made the show a great success. Whilst these sections of the dance took a creative filmi look, it was great to see some senior dancers like Shanti Raman dancing to the lyrics of Purandaradasa. The ending piece finished with a traditional Thillana, a composition of Dhandayuthanpani Pillai sung by MLV. All great moments weaved by students from different schools and styles of bharathanatyam brought together by Natyanjali Australia.
The school that was prominent for its presence and impact was Samskriti School of Dance. Their senior dancers opened the show to pure classical rhythms of Govind, Sangeetha and Divya, senior students of Samskriti School of Dance, trained and choreographed by Hamsa Venkat. They danced to “Saravanabhava” describing Lord Muruga with his two consorts. Through nimble footwork, the three dancers captured the attention of the audience with their expressive interpretations of various stories describing Muruga’s beauty, love and valour. The Thirupugazh was tuned by Mohan Ayyar and Sangeeta Ayyar in keeping with the syllables of ‘SHARAVANABHAVA’ in the following ragams. SA(Saradapriya)RA(Ranjani)VA(Vasantha)NA(Nattakurinji)BhA(Bhairavi)VA(Valaji). The other dancers who made an impact were Seran Sribalan, Lavanya, Anuradhi Krishnamurthy, Shalini Parthiban all who performed duets and solo pieces.
During the brief intermission, I scouted back stage to have a peep and bumped into Masako Ono, getting ready for her performance. Unlike other artists, she was neither dismissive or aloof. But calm and happy to perform. “I normally wear ready made costumes, but since I have time I decided to drape this saree”, I stood there in complete amazement as she swung the last metre and a half of the saree in plaits to sit on her waist tied with the characteristic belt used in Odissi Dance.
“I love Odissi because unlike Japanese dance which is very symmetrical, Odissi is asymmetrical” she said. Masako Ono commenced a rivetting performance with a Hamsadhvani Pallavi which contained intricate rhythmic footwork and patterns. Ashtapadi, the poetry of Jayadeva, is a universal element of Odissi Dancing and that was her next piece, depicting Krishna and Radha. Known for her Shivapanchakshara her body bending powerful display of Shiva, the cosmic dancer was followed by a Visual Haiku after a change of costume. Dressed in flaming red her swaying Odissi movements were replaced by straight lines and martial art choreography depicting the winter butterfly with her body bending postures. Her flexibility, command and third sense of her artform certainly drove home her knowledge of footwork and different styles and a complete oneness with her spatial presence. More photos here.
Take this as a friendly criticism or ignore it. It was wonderful to see our Japanese guests wait until the very end of the programme. It was most embarassing to see many Indians in the audience leave once their children had finished performing. Is it not important to expose children to great dancers and dancing as it is to see them up on stage ?
[The Daah section will appear in most of our articles from here on, that is when ever our secret correspondent wishes to raise her hand up to say something we think is important]
[Photographs on this page are subject to copyright. Prior permission of Natyanjali Aust, Sydhwaney and Fish i foto required]