Welcome to an evening of exciting dance performance by ARADHANA CHANDRASEKHAR.

On behalf of From within Dance Academy and ARADHANA's family, we cordially welcome all of you to an evening of dance. I'm , a post-Arangetram student at From Within Academy, and I will be your MC for this evening.

Before we get started, I’d like to remind everyone of some house rules.

 

- No food or drink is allowed in the auditorium

- If you must leave the auditorium during the performance; please do so in-between items

- If you have young children, please sit towards the aisle. Kindly leave the auditorium if they get restless and start crying so that it is not disturbing to the rest of the audience members. Kindly do not let the children roam around the theater unattended.

- Kindly maintain silence and talk softly when the show is in progress. If you talk loudly, it distrubs the artistes on stage.

 

We ask our audience to turn off their phones so they can stay present with their experience of the art that will be shared. It is touching that some may feel inspired to take their own photos and videos to share on social media. Instead, we invite you to write and speak about your experience after the performance. You are also encouraged to share official photos and videos from our social media accounts.

 

In our digital world, it is truly special that you took the time out of your life to appreciate live art. Please prepare to immerse yourself in this experience by turning your phones off now. Please do not take any photos or videos from this point forward. Thank you for your kind understanding!

ARADHANAis a disciple of Guru Smt. Subhashini Vijay Santhanam of the From Within Dance Academy a global dance organization with centers in the US and India. This evening of dance signifies both a beginning and a culmination of sorts for the dancer which include the endless hours of rigorous practice, varied emotions and complete immersion. All of which was done in the pursuit of excellence for this moment when she finally gets on stage – “Arangetram”. In Tamil (one of the south Indian languages) Aranga means a raised stage and “etram” means “to ascend”.
 
All items unless otherwise mentioned have been choreographed by our beloved Guru Subhashini.
 
For all the items we present today, as long as we are able identify clearly, we will mention the time period of the composition or composer life period so that we get an idea into the history and context of when the poem was written and music set. It is hoped that this will give the audience a deeper insight into the relevance of the oral tradition being passed on thru generations and the relevance of the composition in current times. While several old pieces have deep, timeless, philosophical and spiritual significance and several new pieces share values of a new social context with a unique appealing freshness.
 
We hope that the erudite and sensitive audience present today is able to appreciate it all thru our presentation today.

Mayalamrutham Pallandu Pushpanjali

Raga: Mayalamrutham

Tala: Adi

Composer: Periya Aazhwar c. 9th century

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Pushpanjali is the invocatory dance and the dancer offers fragrant flowers to God to seek his blessings for a successful performance. The dancer also seeks the blessings of her Guru, the orchestra and the well wishing audience. The piece is conceived as waking up Perumal as he is in Yoga Nidra or Yogic relaxation state. He is behind seven doors that open to the devotees offering fragrant flowers, playing musical instruments, offering vedic sacrifices, dhoopam or fragrant incense, holy waters and ringing of the bells.

Following the Pushpanjali, the Pallandu Paasuram describes the glorious features of the Lord – His powerful shoulders and possessing the luster of a brilliant blue gem. The devotee - Periya Aazhwar wishes the Lord to be protected for many millions of years so He can continue to provide solace to the world.

Chaturashram Alarippu

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Chaturashra Ekam

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: Guru Kittappa Pillai

This next item, Alarippu, is a traditional warm up piece in which the dancer does simple pure dance movements - proceeding from the eyes, neck, shoulders, arms and head to the entire body. The word “Alar” means “to bloom” and the movements in this piece represent a bud blossoming into a flower. Today’s Alaarippu will be performed to a count of 4 beats

Vasantha Jathiswaram

Raga: Vasantha

Tala: Roopakam

Composer: Tanjore Quartet, early 19th century

Choreographer: Kalakshetra

"Jathiswaram" is a pure dance presentation, devoid of any abhinaya (emotions). The dance deals with the execution of adavus (basic steps) and mudras (hand gestures), combined in definite groups. Jathis (rhythmic pieces danced to narrated syllables) are executed combining swara passages (musical scores) in a particular raga and tala.

Sita Shabdham

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Misra Chapu

Composer: Dr. Ramanuja

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Shabdham is an item that introduces expressive dance and story telling (abhinaya). This shabdham is about Sita.

When king Janaka’s men were ploughing the fields, they hit a hard object and on investigating it, found a box. When they opened the box, to their surpise they found a baby girl. She was taken to the King and was adopted by him to be his dearest beautiful daughter Seeta.

One day Sita, now a young maiden, was playing ball with her friends. The ball flew out of the palace garden and a handsome prince- Lord Rama - brought it back to her. As he handed it to her, their eyes met.

Meanwhile, King Janaka decided that the time was right for Sita to be given in marriage.

He invited all the powerful kings, including Ravana, to Sita’s swayamvara. He challenged the assesmbled kings to lift and string Lord Siva’s mighty bow, stating that the one who could do so would marry Sita.

After many suitors tried and failed, Lord Rama lifted the bow as if it was a garland of flowers, strung it and broke it into two, causing it to resound like thunder.

All the kings and rishis came together in Mithila to witness the wedding of Rama and Sita. Beautiful Sita exchanges garlands with Rama and weds him.

Neelambari Varnam

Raga: Neelambari

Tala: Adi Ekam

Composer: Sri. Lalgudi G Jayaraman 1930-2013

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Varnam is the center piece in a bharatanatyam margam, with complex rhythm passages followed by expressive dance and storytelling. In this varnam, the primary emotion portrayed is “Shringara” or love. The “nayaka” or hero of the Varnam is Lord Muruga , the son of Lord Shiva and Godess Parvati. The lyrics describe Lord Muruga as commander of the Gods and the one living in Thiruchendur (a town that has the color of red denoting auspiciousness). This is also interpreted as the one wearing the red vermillion mark on his forehead. Muruga was born out of the spark emanating from the third eye on the forehead of Lord Shiva. The heroine laments – “Please show some mercy and take me to be one with you, oh holder of the spear. Is there any moment when I do not think of you? Don’t you understand my heart? Why these tricks and games? Is it fair? What would I do if you do not come? I do not know of any other place to go. I do not stop thinking of you even for a moment. It would make me
so happy to see your beautiful moon like face and your sweet smile.”

**She further says, “Come to me on your beautiful dancing peacock oh handsome Muruga, I am yearning to see your wondrous form. Don't you hear my pleas? Or do you not have the heart to come even on hearing me? My heart is melting, I have not eaten or slept, my eyes are overflowing with tears and my body is getting frail. I go in search of you everyday with so much eagerness and feel bad when I don’t find you. Can you please come and put an end to my misery?”**

Para Shakthi Janani Keerthanam

Raga: Hamsadhwani

Tala: Aadi

Composer: Papanasam Sivan, 1890 to 1973

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

** This song is in praise of this Mother Goddess who gives every man ‘Shakthi’ or inner strength and confidence to do his duties in his lifetime. We pray to the Supreme mother to protect us, who is the daughter of the Mountains. Both the devas and Asuras take refuge in your lotus feet and so also, we do oh beautiful one. Wife of Shankara, compassionate one, giver of boons, remover of fears, do save us sister of Maha Vishnu. Oh mother, please bless us and remove the darkness from our heart. Slayer of Mahishasura, dark hued one, rider of the Lion, Ruler of the universe, we bow to you for protection.**

Nandi sol and Ardhanareeshwaram kriti

Raga: Kumudakriya

Tala: Adi

Composer: Mridangist Vidwan V R Chandrashekar and Muthuswamy Deekshitar

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

In the next dance, we represent the Supreme cosmic dancer, the Lord of Dance – Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva rides on a bull named Nandi who also plays on the drums. Rhythmic syllables or Nandisol are used to represent his majestic joyful dance. His serene form as he rides the bull Nandi and his joy when playing the drum or Damaru are shown. He is also depicted holding the scorching pot of fire, wearing snakes around his arms and neck, wearing the crescent moon, holding Ganga in his matted locks and letting her flow gently on to the earth, holding the Trident, with his third eye on his forehead, slaying the wrong doers and holding the skull in the form of a begging bowl, wearing the elephant skin – gaja charmi , wearing the Tiger skin, using the burnt embers to smear himself with the white ash, and the deer representing the ego of mankind. All of this is strung together with his tandavam dance. In an attempt to put to practical use the principles laid out in Bharata’s Natya shastra or the
treatise on which all Indian

dance is based, we have used the 7 different types of turns or Bhramaris in this dance. They are * Utplutabhramari - Divya will demo – we will not talk thru this piece - With Samapaada Sthanaka, jump & turn around * Chakrabhramari - Hold tripataka hasta in both the hands and turn around while dragging the legs on the floor * Garudabhramari - Keep one of the knees on the ground, stretch the other leg and turn around * Ekapaadabhramari - Stand on one leg and turn around with the other * Kunchitabhramari - Jump and turn around folding the legs up * Aakaashabhramari - Jump , spread the legs apart and turn around * Angabhramari - Keep the legs 12 inch apart and turn the body around This is our understanding of how the Bhramaris are to be executed. If there is a mistake in our interpretation, we request the scholars in the audience to please guide us.

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In the second part of the dance, we pay our salutations to Ardhanariswaram. The story goes that Sage Brhngu would only worship Lord Shiva.

While Parvati was happy that he was praying to her husband, she was angry that he would not pray to her. So she took away her energy or Shakti from his body. Sage Bhrngu became very weak and appealed to Lord Shiva. The Supreme dancer took pity on Sage Bhrngu and gave him a stick to stand up with. The Sage is happy and starts praying to only Shiva again. Parvathi gets very angry and meditates upon Shiva herself. When Shiva is appeased with her prayers, he takes her to be one with him – Ardhanariswarar. We bow to that Ardhanari manifestation to whom – the sages – Atri, Bhrgu, Vasistha also worshipped. In the mid day, his Alankara or the gorgeous dressed up form is so beautiful, it has a very pleasing effect on the devotees. It causes the eyes to feast on the beautiful form and the heart to rejoice with the meditative calmness. We depict Shiva with his tiger skin, snakes and ash and Parvathi with her beautiful garments, necklace and sindoor. Pleasing to Parvati you are our savior and

remover of fears – abhaya. Wearer of snake garlands, rider of the bull Nandi, from the core of my being, the poet and the dancer, pray to your feet, enjoyer of the Kumudakriya raga, who is in praise since the Agamas, endless Vedas praise, devas in the heavens pray, to that Ardhanari Lord who glows in red like the fire.

Brindavani Venu Abhang

Raga: Aberi

Tala: Adi

Composer: Sant Bhanudasa, 16th century poet

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Paithan city was famous seat of learning for a long time. In ancient times it was also a prominent commercial town, and home to the Eknath family for generations. Shri Bhanudas was born in shaka1436 (1514 A. D) and was a great grandfather of saint Eknath.

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Shri Bhanudas was a pious and religious person, a faithful and ardent devotee of the Vitthal of Pandharpur. His devotion to that god was once challenged when the King of Vidyanagar came for a visit to Pandharpur. When he saw the exquisite beauty of the idol of Vitthal there, he was fascinated by it and he took away the idol to his own capital. Pandharpur, a place of pilgrimage for the followers of the Varkari cult, became void of life itself! All the saints came to Bhanudas and requested him to bring back the idol of Shri Vitthal, so that the city would again be alive! Shri Bhanudas then promised to do so and by the power of his ardent devotion, he succeeded in bringing back the idol to Pandharpur.

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The story eulogizes Bhanudas as great devotee who was a favourite of God Vitthal. It is really no wonder that a family which had the benediction of so holy a person like Bhanudas was graced by another religious minded person like Eknath within three generations. From Bhanudas to his son Chakrapani and his son, Suryapani.

**The verse goes:**

Who is playing so melodiously on the flute in Brindavan?

The sound of the music is enveloping the Govardhana hill

The peacocks are spreading their wings and

Sit listening and watching Lord Krishna the leader of the Yadavas play the flute in amazement

The cows have forgotten to graze

The cows and tigers are standing next to each other listening to Krishna

The chirping birds have fallen silent

All animals and people have forgotten their enmity

The sound emerging is intensely beautiful

anklets are making matching rhythmic sounds

The Devas in the heavens are watching and praising Lord Krishna

I, Bhanudasa have attained the bliss from Prema Bhakti or devotional love

Desh Thillana

Raga: Desh

Tala: Adi

Composer: Sri. Lalgudi G Jayaraman 1930-2013

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

This is a fast and lively dance, which traditionally concludes a Bharatanatyam recital. This one is in praise of Lord Muruga.

Oh Lord who wields a spear, the protector of the gods, one who has a red rooster on his flag, the husband of the loving Valli and Devasena, please bless me with the assurance that henceforth I will have no need to experience fear after having sought refuge at your feet.

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