Welcome to an evening of exciting dance performance by Avani Radheshyam.

On behalf of From within Dance Academy and Avani'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!

Avaniis 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.

Jhem Jhem Thanana

Raga: Aarabi

Tala: Aadi

Composer: Dr. M Balamurali Krishna (1930-2016)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

We commence with an offering of flowers. This is an item where the Bharatanatyam dancer salutes God, Guru and the audience. We include a verse in praise of Lord Ganesha. The verse goes –

To the one who is with me from the beginning to the end, through my learning to that Ganapathy, I fold my hands and pray, remover of obstacles, embodiment of all good qualities, leader of the Ganas, I bow to you.

Tisram Allarippu

Raga: null

Tala: Tisra Ekam

Composer: Tanjore Quartet

Choreographer: Kalakshetra/Rukmini Devi Arundale 29 February 1904 – 24 February 1986

This dance is typically an opening number. 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 three beats.

Nalinakanthi Jathiswaram

Raga: Nalinakanthi

Tala: Adi

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

A Jathiswaram is a song that consists of only swaras (notes) and jathis (complex beats) in a specific raga and tala. The dancer performs to this devoid of emotions (“abhinaya”) and displays her capabilities by executing basic steps (“adavus”) and hand gestures (“mudras’).

Nataraja Shabdam

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Misrachapu

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

**Shabdam is an item where a poem is interpreted. In the piece presented today, the hero of the Shabdam is Lord Nataraja or the God of dance. The dancer devotee invites her little sister to the temple. To her surprise, the little sister refuses to come and sits sulking in a corner. The dancer tries to tempt her to come saying we can play a game of spinning the top, or fly kites outside the spacious praharam, or pluck pretty water lilies in temple pond. But her younger sister still refuses. The older sister extols the virtues of Lord Shiva as the benevolent one who is the saviour of all of us. Finally, the younger sister explains why she is so upset about coming to the temple to see the Lord. Her last experience of being crushed at darshan time was quite unpleasant, she explains. What does the older sister do when she finds out her younger sister's sweet predicament?**

Simhavahini Srirajeswari Varnam

Raga: Ranjani

Tala: Adi

Composer: Sri Madurai Muralidharan, 1978 to present

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The Varnam is the most elaborate item presented in any Bharatanatyam repertoire. It includes complex rhythmic passages along with interpretive dance and stories supporting the main idea of the lyrics.

This varnam presents stories of the Mother Goddess in her forms including Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. She is the bestower of courage and confidence in the form of Rajeshwari and Lalitha. She is the bestower of wealth in the form of Lakshmi and blesses us with knowledge in the form of Saraswati.

The detailed meaning is as follows -

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Oh devi who rides on the Lion, Sri Rajeshwari, please bless me, you are the one who dances Tandava with beautiful grace (tandava mohini)

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You remove our obstacles and grace us with your blessings and Oh devi Lalitambikaye. Here we depict the story of the demon Mahishasura who got a blessing from the Gods that he would never die at the hands of man. In arrogance that no woman could ever match his might, he tortured the pious. Lord Bhrama Vishnu and Shiva, combined their powers to invoke the mother Goddess Durga. She manifest s with a thousand arms and challenges and vanquishes Mahishasura.

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The devi who resides in the beautiful red lotus, and one who showers wealth, you are the beloved of Lord Narayana.

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You hold a bejewelled veena, you are adorned with a crescent moon on your forehead

Here we depict the story of Abhirami Bhattar who was an ardent devotee of the Goddess. While he was deep in worship of her, the ruler of the land comes by asking him what the day was? To which he mistakenly replies that it was the full moon day. The king took a customary bath in the River Cauvery on every no moon night or Amavasya. Upon hearing that it was a full moon night, he went back to the palace. Suddenly it dawned up on Bhattar that he had misled the king. Perturbed, he got ready to give up his life by jumping into a fire. But as he raised his eyes to the sky, he saw the full moon just as he had told the king. Unable to believe his eyes, he prays and the Goddess reveals that she had playfully thrown her earring on to the sky just so that his words would not become false thereby protecting his honor and his life.

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in the sacred texts, you are called Uma, who showers everyone with happiness oh dear mother

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You are the bestower of all knowledge of all Arts and the whole world rejoices everyday as they take your sharanam

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The one who was created with the sound of Om .who delights Nataraja

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The anklets on your feet resound as you dance.

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In the form of Goddess Kamakshi, you hold a red sugarcane, you are most unique and hold a trishoolam or trident, bestower of auspiciousness, you are the virgin queen warrior Goddess in the form of Angayarkanni.

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Oh mother, at this time, i seek your blessings, please pay heed to this child’s call with compassion, take my miseries away and come quickly, Oh mother who killed Mahishasura

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When you come the whole world rejoices and when you glance upon the world with your compassionate eyes, the world becomes peaceful. Everyday, your son Ganapathy sings and your other son Muruga dances and your brother Lord Krishna also sings and worship you. Please grant me the satisfying bliss of seeing you at all times **

Shivastakam

Raga: Yamunakalyani

Tala: Adi Khanda nadai

Composer: Adi Shankaracharyar, early 8th Century

Choreographer: Avijit Das

The Shivastakam is a set of eight verses praising the Lord of Dance, Lord Nataraja.

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I pray to You, Shiva, Shankara, Shambhu, Who is the Lord, always dwelling in happiness, Who imparts light to everything, Who is the Lord of living beings, Who is the Lord of ghosts, and Who is the Lord of everyone.

The one who wears garland of skulls around the neck, who wears snakes all around His body, the destroyer of the Lord of Death himself, Kala, the lord of Ganesa, Whose matted-hair is spread-out by the presence of the waves of Ganga falling on His head, and Who is the Lord of everyone.

The one who brings happiness, adorning the universe by his immense powerful presence, wearing ashes, the one who is without a beginning, one who is without a measure, the one who removes the greatest of attachments, and Who is the Lord of everyone.

The one who resides below a Vata or Banyan tree, who possesses the heartiest of laughter, the one who destroys the greatest sins, is always resplendent, the Lord of Himalaya, various Gana and the demi-gods

The one who shares half of His body with the daughter of Himalaya or Parvathi, who lives on mount Kailash, who helps the depressed, the one who is the Atman, who is revered by Lord Brahma and others

You are the one who holds a skull and a trident in his hands, who fulfills the desires of devoted to His lotus-feet, the one who rides the bull Nandi, the supreme one

With a face like the Winter-moon, the subject of happiness of Ganas,with three eyes, the one who is pure, the friend of Lord Kubera who is the controller of wealth, the consort of Aparna (Parvati), the one who has eternal characteristics

I pray to You, Shiva, Shankara, Shambhu, Hara, who has a garland of snakes, who roams around in the cremation grounds, who is the universe, the essence of the Vedas, who is always dispassionate, who lives in the cremation grounds, who burns the desires born in the mind, and who is the Lord of everyone.

In the final verse, it is said that those who chant, sing or hear or watch these verses in dance with devotion for Lord Shiva, live a fulfilling life on earth and attain all material and spiritual benefits. May Lord Shiva bless us all.

Mayya Mori

Raga: Maand

Tala: Adi

Composer: Saint Sur Das (late 15th/early 16th century)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Krishna engages in an act of stealing the butter in his own house. His mother Yashodha questions him and he flatly refuses to have to anything to do with the broken pots of curds and butter lying on the floor.

He says she sends him to herd the cows in morning and he plays flute all day in the jungles and has had no time to steal the butter.

He goes on to say that his hands are too short to reach the pot. When Yashodha questions the butter smeared on his face, he says that his friends forcefully applied it on him so they could escape. he goes on to say that she was too innocent and she should not believe all that she hears about him being naughty.

She tells him that she has worked hard to churn the butter and it is sad that everything is on the floor. He thinks about his escape and comes up with a ploy. He says that she treats him differently and accuses him because he his her adopted son and not like Balarama who his her own. He hands her the cowherd blanket and stick and says he would not graze her cows.

To this, Yashodha melts and agrees that he did not steal the butter. She laughs and takes him in her arms and admires how he has won her over by making up his stories

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Krishna finally enjoys all treats she gives him and admits to stealing.

Raghuvamsa Sudha Keerthanam

Raga: Kadana kuthu kalam

Tala: Adi

Composer: Patnam Subramania Iyer (1845-1904)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santanam

This Song describes the beautiful form of Lord Rama. You are like the moon to the nectar-ocean of the Raghu lineage! Sri Rama you are the King of Kings! You are the wind, that drives away the cloud of darkness and sins, you always usher in prosperity! You are the lion, terrifying the asuras(Demons)! Noble Lord of the world!

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In the final verse, the poet recounts the episode where Lord Rama destroys

Parasu rama's conceit. We will have a special guest dancer Isha’s little sister Anya, on stage to accompany Isha at this point.

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Maharshi Jamadhagni's son i.e, Parasurama hears the twang of the bow that Rama breaks to win the hand of Sita in marriage. As the bow was handed to Parashurama by Lord Shiva himself, Parashurama is enraged that someone has dared to break it. Sensing danger, he immediately proceeds to furiously attack Rama. But upon the meeting of the two incarnations of Lord Vishnu, they recognize each other and withdraw in peace.

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Lord Rama is praised by the Lord Shiva and others as the crown jewel of the solar dynasty!
He performed innumerable marvelous Leelas in his Rama Avatara to protect his devotees. He is but Lord Sri Venkatesha himself!**

Kathanakuthukalam Thillana

Raga: Kathanakuthukalam

Tala: Adi

Composer: Dr. M Balamurali Krishna (1930-2016)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The Thillana is the last item in the performance, before the Mangalam. This is a rhythmic Nritta piece consisting of complex footwork and captivating poses. A thillana uses Jatis as rhythmic phrases with a little shlokam in the end. It includes Pallavi, AnuPallavi and Charanam. It starts from eye movements, followed by several Mai Adavus set to Pallavi. Then several Korvais (sets of Adavus) are performed set to Pallavi and AnuPallavi. Usi Adavu is a characteristic movement in Thillanas, where a dancer covers the stage by a quick sequence of movements. Thillanas are derived from Tri-Thillanas, consisting of catchy swara patterns, with saahitya containing both Jatis (SolaKattus) and words, set to madhyama kaalam tempo.

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The short verse in this Thillana describes the devotee's happiness at watching Lord Krishna's bright face and lips. Krishna's playing on the flute brings so much happiness to her heart that it causes her to burst into a rejoicing dance.

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