Welcome to an evening of exciting dance performance by Ashmitha Seshadri.

On behalf of From within Dance Academy and Ashmitha'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!

Ashmithais 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.

Trikalam Allarippu

Raga: Tri kalam

Tala: null

Composer: Shri N G Ravi

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

This dance is an invocatory item. Starting with movements of the neck, eyes and shoulders, it gradually includes movements of the whole body. It is meant to represent the blossoming of a flower. This Allarippu is set to a count of 3, 5 and 7 beats.

Charukesi Jathiswaram

Raga: Charukesi

Tala: Adi

Composer: Neela Ramanuja - contemporary

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

"Jathiswaram" is a pure dance item performed to a musical score in a particular raga and tala. The dancer executes basic steps and complex movement patterns to rhythmic syllables (jathis) and musical notes (swaras).

Godha Kauthuvam

Raga: Bhoopalam

Tala: Adi

Composer: Smt. Neela Ramanuja and Dr. Ramanuja, 2008

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Kauthuvam is an item where a poem is first recited and then sung. It is typically performed as one of the opening items and is the first item where abhinaya or expressive dance is first introduced in the performance. In the piece presented today, the poem is in praise of the female devotee of Lord Krishna – Sri Andal (also known as Godha or Kodhai or Nachiyaar). Lord Krishna is also referred to as Ranganatha,



Godha is described as the daughter of the earth who was found near the tusli plant by the priest Vishnuchittar. She is described as the one who gives both material and spiritual bliss and the one who loves Lord Ranganatha.



When Godha strung together the flower garland for the Lord, she tried it on first. When her father Vishnuchittar goes on to offer it, he finds a hair in it. He is angry and questions Godha. The Lord himself is said to have given vision to Vishnuchittar to explain Godha was Goddess Lakshmi’s incarnate and that the Lord liked the garland just the way it was. The verse ends by saying that the deity of Sri Andal is often found near the Lord of Medicines – Dhanvi in the temples.



In the month of Dhanur when all the Gopis are engaged in worshipping Krishna, Sri Andal also does the same. She sees the vision of the Lord arriving with a 1000 elephants and taking her to be his bride. She also dreams of making an offering of a 1000 vessels filled with milk to him.



Sri Andal is the sister of Shri Ramanujacharya. She takes pity on the devotees who are eager to see Lord Krishna. On the birthday of Lord Krishna, she promises to deliver all the devotees of the Lord. Anyone who reads or hears this poem will be blessed by Shri Andal.



She is present along with Lord Krishna at all the 108 divya deshams or holy shrines of worship.

Mahalakshmi Varnam

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Adi with Gati changes in Khandam and Tishram

Composer: Parimala Saranthan

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The Varnam is the centerpiece of a Bharatanatyam performance. It consists of complex rhythmic sections, or jathis, alternating with expressive dance and story telling. This varnam is in praise of Goddess Mahalakshmi and the main rasa in this varnam is Bhakti.

_Kathiruppal Mahalakshmi_

Goddess Mahalakshmi awaits her devotees, ready to grant what their hearts desire.

As She resides in the heart of MahaVishnu, She rules the hearts of her devotees.

To those who come to Her seeking refuge, She protects, gives boons, watches over them, enlightens them, showers them the nectar of kindness without holding back even a little.

Her supreme beauty and great qualities cause the Lord of Srirangam to admire her.

As She moves, the beauty of Her gait puts swans and peacocks to shame. The sweetness of Her voice as She speaks makes the parrot mute. Her Grace fills the world with happiness.

There are two stories presented in this varnam.

In the first, Sage Dhurvasa gives a garland to Lord Indra,

who disregards the precious gift and contemptuously throws it to his elephant.

Enraged, the Sage cursed him for his pride and

Goddess Lakshmi left Indra's kingdom, taking all his prosperity with her.

Lord Indra asks Vishnu for help,

and is told that if he churned the ocean with the help of the Asuras,

Goddess Lakshmi will arise again from its depths.

In the second story, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi are playing a game of dice.

Parvathi feels that Shiva is cheating to win,

so she asks him to find someone else to watch and give judgement.

Shiva calls one of his servants,

who is caught in the dilemma of having to pass judgement against his own master.

He finally supports Shiva and is cursed by the goddess for his deceit.

However, when he asks for forgiveness,

the goddess mercifully gives him redemption by telling him to witness a varalakshmi puja.

Nee Riappai

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Adi

Composer: Arunachala Kavi (1711–1779)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Nee Uraippai is part of Rama Natakam, a musical drama based on the Ramayana.

The whole song is a conversation between Hanuman and Lord Rama.

Lord Rama’s wife Sita is missing. He meets Hanuman and Hanuman is eager to serve his Lord find his wife.

Hanuman wonders how he would recognize Sita and how she would react if she sees him. Lord Rama thinks for a bit and offers his ring to Hanuman that would serve as a sign that she would recognize. He also recites from his and Sita's life and asks Hanuman to recite those events to Sita to give her confidence that Hanuman is indeed trusted friend

Rama says -

Go and tell Devi Sita that I told you

If she asks you "Who you are", tell you are "Sri Rama's Envoy"

At the request of one Sage, I went after the female demon Thaataka

She fell like a Pine tree as I killed her with my arrow, Tell her (Sita) this story

She (Sita) trembled sadly when I told her not to come with me to walk in the dense forests

Then I sensed her strength and told her to come and she gave me a gentle smile.



All our troubles started because you said to me, "Please catch that deer and give him to me"

Ranjani Malika

Raga: Ranjanimalika

Tala: Adi

Composer: Tanjavur Sankara Iyer

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

We present the next number in praise of Shakti, the female Goddess. This song has been composed in a manner such that each of the paras is sung in a different Raga or musical scale. Further, the names of the Ragas are incorporated in each para ending. The lyrical beauty of this composition is dedicated to praising the Goddess mother and asking her to bless to her devotees. Please watch out for these words in the lyrics – Ranjani, Sree Ranjani, Megha Ranjani and Jana Ranjani. They are the names of the Ragas.

Kuzal Uthi

Raga: Kamboji

Tala: Adi

Composer: Oothukadu Venkatakavi

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The gopi in Brindavan tells her friends that she feels no sorrow ever. Whenever Krishna plays melodiously on his flute, her heart becomes so close to him that it is no l onger hers. Just like the beautiful peacock dances and the creepers sway in the soft breeze., ehr heart also becomes light and rejoices in Krishna music. Krishna’s beautiful earrings sway and his crown jewels shine in the soft moonlight when he plays on the flute. Hearing the melodious music, the village folk forget their mundane work and rejoice, the grass in the Brindavan forest also start singing, all the gopis run out of their homes and rush to Krishna to be with him and make sure he has a supportive audience, they want to sing and dance with him, the calves and cattle too want to surround him and enjoy the moment in the moonlight. Lord Krishna compassionately plays on to please his audience.

Sindhu Bhairavi Thillana

Raga: Sindhubhairavi

Tala: Adi, Tisra Nadai

Composer: T K Govinda Rao

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The Thillana is a rhythmic piece in a Bharatnatyam performance. This is, mostly a pure dance piece, with a small verse with meaningful lyrics at the end.

Today’s joyous Thillana depicts the young lad Krishna as he subdues Kaliya the giant serpent who had poisoned the river Yamuna. While playing ball with his friends, Krishna throws the ball into the river. On the pretext of retrieving the ball, he jumps in and wins over the snake. With his ankle bells ringing, the dark lord dances on top of Kaaliya. With a charming walk and a sweet smile, in his many forms, he blesses and protects the people who sing in praise of him.

**In this thillana, there is a short portion of a “jugalbandhi” where the orchestra will do a call and response with the dancer.**

Manikam Katti

Raga: Neelambari

Tala: Misrachapu

Composer: Periyazhwar

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

In the song/pasuram Sri Periyazhwar assumes the role of Yashodha, the mother of Lord Krishna and sings lullaby to Him as He lies in His cradle.

All the devaas -Brahma, Indra, Shiva, Varuna, Kubera, & Saraswathy, His consorts Sridevi & Bhoodevi come offering special gifts to Him.

They all give Him an excellent cradle made of pure gold studded with gems of various colors,

ornaments like conch, anklets, beautiful bangles & waist band, crown made of all precious gems found in the sea, and garlands of various divine flowers like lotus and Tulasi.



They are all happy to see Him wearing their gifts in His cradle.

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