Bharata Natya Arangetram – Sakthi Ravitharan
A talented young artist, Sakthi Ravitharan (a student of Dr Chandrabhanu OAM), was presented in her Bharata Natya Arangetram on 5 February 2011 at the George Wood Performing Arts Centre in Melbourne before an audience of one thousand people.
Sakthi gave an assured performance which impressed the large audience. The repertoire included the following items: Trishakthi Vandanam as the opening item; Jethiswaram in raga Hamsanandi; a shabdam Sarasijakshulu in ragamalika Kambodhi/Dhanyasi/Kalyani/Madhyamavati and set to tala Misra Chapu; a challenging varnam Madhavan Mohananai in raga Shankarabharanam and set to tala Chatusra Madhya; a Mayil Virutham; Rara Rajeeva Lochana; the haunting Enneramum (which, together with Mayil Virutham, was taught to Sakthi by visiting international artist, Sri Tamizhvanan Veshnu Narayanasamy); and a vibrant thillana in raga chandrakauns.
The audience was captivated by Sakthi’s abhinaya (expression), which was particularly moving during her performance of Enneramum. In this item Sakthi portrayed the longing of an outcast devotee to enter the temple of Chidambaram to worship Lord Shiva to whom he is devoted.
Sakthi demonstrated crisp footwork throughout her Arangetram performance, and this continued through to the thillana. Her footwork was also particularly impressive during the Mayil Virutham item in which she portrayed Lord Muruga’s peacock before he goes to battle with the demon Soorapadman.
Smt Sushila Craig, a senior Kalakshetra graduate now based in Sydney, was the Chief Guest. Smt Sushila Craig is a direct disciple of Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale and Smt A. Sharada Hoffman. She observed that Sakthi executed the adavus exactly as she herself had been taught – in keeping with the Kalakshetra style. Smt Sushila Craig also commented that Sakthi demonstrated Sathvika rasa in her Arangetram performance: a rare quality, raising the audience and the musicians to the highest level through her dance.
Sakthi’s Carnatic Vocal and veena guru Smt Shobha Sekhar was the vocalist, and her resonant voice stirred the hearts of audience members. A cohesive orchestra provided musical accompaniment for the Arangetram performance, and included Sri Murali Kumar on violin, Smt Jayalakshmi Sekhar on veena, Sri Thiagarajan Ramani on flute, Sri Balasri Rasiah and his son Hari Rasiah on mrdangam, and Indika Indralingam on tambura.
Sakthi commenced training in bharatanatyam (South Indian Classical Dance) at the age of six years at Dr Chandrabhanu’s Bharatalya Academy. Sakthi received a Class Award from the Bharatalya Academy in 2000, and an Outstanding Student of the Year Award in 2008.
In January 2010 Sakthi was presented in her Carnatic Vocal Arangetram by her Carnatic Vocal guru, Smt Shobha Sekhar, and was accompanied by eminent music artistes from India: Sri J. Vaidhyanathan on mridangam, Sri Embar S. Kannan on violin, Sri S.V. Ramani on ghatam and Sri R. Thiagarajan on kanjira and flute. Sakthi was bestowed the title “Sangeetha Praveena”, and received the award Graduate in Performing Arts in 2010 for her Carnatic Vocal Arangetram performance. She has also been awarded many prizes, including first prize, for her vocal presentations at prestigious Carnatic music competitions featuring judges such as Smt Aruna Sairam, Sri P. Unnikrishnan, Sri O.S. Thiagarajan and Smt Sudha Raghunathan. Sakthi has performed several solo Carnatic Vocal recitals in the Margazhi Carnatic Music Festival held each December in Chennai. Passionate about music, Sakthi also plays veena, violin, viola, flute, piccolo and piano.
Sakthi’s commitment to and depth of understanding of the fundamentals of the art-form was evident in her engaging performance during her Bharata Natya Arangetram, and these attributes coupled with her knowledge of Carnatic music and innate flair for the performing arts distinguish her as a talented young artist who is certain to continue her involvement with bharatanatyam and Indian classical arts for many years to come.