Welcome to an evening of exciting dance performance by Nikita Namilakonda.

On behalf of From within Dance Academy and Nikita'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!

Nikitais 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.

Ganesha Kauthuvam

Raga: Nattai

Tala: Adi

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

This dance is a prayer to Lord Ganesha, son of Parvati and Shiva and the remover of obstacles. Ganesha has an elephantine face with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. This is a fast-paced invocatory dance where the dancer offers prayers to Lord Ganesha and seeks his blessings to make the event a success. In a Kauthuvam, chollukattus (rhythmic syllables) are intertwined with the lyrics of the song. Thus, it has both Nritta (footwork) and Abhinaya (expressions) components in its choreography.

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.

Ragamalika Jathiswaram

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Mishra chaapu taalam

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: Kalakshetra

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

Saraswati Shabdam

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Misrachapu

Composer: Shri Subramaniyam

Choreographer: Vijaykumar Srinivasan

The next item is the Shabdam, a piece that has both nritta and abhinaya, with more focus on the abhinaya. This piece is in praise of the Goddess of Learning and Knowledge, Saraswathi.

It praises her to be the supreme authority over all sounds, expert in vocal music, seeking her benevolent blessings including Lavanyam or Grace.

All the Devas and Gods worship you, Oh wife of Lord Bhrama (who is the father of the vedas). You manifest seated on a delicate lotus flower. Please accept my salutations at your feet.

Oh Goddess wearing white clothes, you are seated on a white lotus, oh Madhavi. Please bless me with the ability to sing and dance in praise of you.

You hold a book and rosary beads in your hands and also play melodiously on the lute. The devotees seek out your lotus feet for obeisance. The get immense happiness worshiping at the Goddess’ feet that produce many different types of rhythm.

Bhavayami Raghu Ramam

Raga: Ragamalikai

Tala: Roopakam

Composer: Shri Swati Tirunal, 1813 to 1846

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

We now move to Bhavayami Raghuram Varnam.

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The Varnam is the centerpiece in a Bharatanatyam margam. It showcases complex rhythm passages intertwined with expressive and lyrical dance and storytelling. In this well-known varnam written in Sanskrit, the devotee meditates upon Lord Sri. Rama, descendant of the Raghu clan, who is the epitome of glorious virtues. Lord. Rama takes on an Avatar as a human king but upholds Dharma under trying circumstances to set an example for all of us. His leelas are such that they transcend the emotions normally felt by us under similar circumstance and he acts and reacts with control and grace never once giving up on the steadfast path of Dharma. The verses of the song collectively describe the entire story of the epic of Ramayana.

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I would like to invite Jahnavi on stage, so she may mime the lyrics, for you to follow the storytelling, with the depiction of each of the verses.

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The first verse describes the miraculous feats of the shining jewel from the Sun clan- Lord Rama in his childhood and early life. These include :

* killing asuras like Subahu,
* emancipating Ahalya and releasing her from the curse of her husband, sage Gautama,
* breaking the divine bow of Shiva to win the hand of and become the [**life breath]** of Sita- daughter of Janaka and
* destroying the pride of Parasurama

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The second verse, describes the first turning period in Lord Rama’s life. His father Dasharatha, seeks his help to fulfill the [promises] he owed to his third wife- Kaikeyi. First to forsake his right to the kingdom as the crown prince and second, to live in exile for 14 years. Rama with equanimity, agrees to the boons and leaves along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to live in the forest. He goes to the home of Guha, the boatsman who takes him across the river Ganga to Chitrakoota. Bharata- his brother, for whom Kaikeyi sought the throne, comes pleading to Rama to come back to Ayodhya and take his rightful place as king. When Lord Rama consoles him and refuses, Bharatha asks for his gem studded slippers as a blessing to symbolically rule on his behalf.

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The third verse describes how Rama’s life moving through the forests lived in the [punishing forest]-Dandakaranya and later at Panchavati, in exile. In the forest, Lord Rama kills the demon Viradha and cleanses the forest of other demons. For this, he was blessed with celestial weapons by the sages. Lord Rama was also worshipped by Jatayu- the king of vultures who also lived in Panchavati. When Shoorpanaka- (the she demon, sister of demon king- Ravana) tries seducing Rama and destroying Sita in envy of her, Lakshmana mutilates her. Shoorpanaka runs complaining to her brother Ravana – sparking the first flame that leads to the epic war!

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The fourth verse, describes Ravana’s carefully plotted revenge and the path it paves for his own destruction at Rama’s hands. Ravana asks his cousin Maricha, to take the form of a beautiful golden deer to distract Rama. The golden deer mesmerizes Sita and she beseeches Rama to go capture it for her. Rama goes after the deer, leaving Lakshmana to safeguard Sita. Rama becomes suspicious of the golden deer when he is unable to catch it. When his arrow pierces the deer, Maricha turns to his true form and screams out the name of Lakshmana in Rama’s voice. Tricked and agonized, Sita orders Lakshmana to go to Rama’s aid. Lakshmana is hesitant but finally agrees to leave her side so long as she does not cross the protective sacred line he draws- the Lakshman Rekha. Ravana comes in disguise as a sage and asks for alms forcing Sita to cross the line. He then captures her by lifting the ground below her carrying her away to Lanka. Agonized by the disappearance of Sita, Rama begins his search for
her and reaches Pampa. Here he meets Hanuman- or Anjaneya and reached an understanding with the Sugreeva that in return for his help in securing the throne, Sugreeva will provide an army to Rama to fight Ravana. Rama kills the monkey king Vali- Sugreeva, so that Sugreeva gets the throne. Hanuman’s unflinching devotion to Rama is evoked.

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The next verse, Hanuman is thrilled that Rama helped Sugreeva and offers his services to find Mother Sita. Rama sent Hanuman with his divine ruby studded ring, as resplendent as a hundred suns to introduce himself to Sita when he finds her. Hanuman flies and leaps across the ocean to reach Lanka and finally finds Sita sitting in the Ashok _Vana_ under a tree. By showing her Rama’s ring, he identifies himself as Rama’s messenger. Overjoyed, Sita in turn gives him a jewel she adorned in her head and tells him to inform Rama that he only has a month in which to reach her, threatening to breathe her last after. Hanuman flies back in urgency to Rama and shows him Sita’s head ornament. This fills Rama’s heart with joy and hope. Hanuman informs Rama about Sita, Ravana and Lanka and tells him about Sita’s condition and appeal. Rama vows in anger to destroy Ravana, Just as they embark to Lanka, Rama meets Vibhishana – the younger brother of Ravana at the sea shore. Due to his differences with
his brother, Vibhishana who comes to serve Rama and helps him win the war.

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In the last verse, Rama and his army constructs the divine bridge that helps him and his entire army cross the ocean and reach Lanka. In the epic battle that ensues between Rama and Ravana, Rama kills Ravana. Sita emerges through Agni (fire) unscathed and rejoins Rama. They return to Ayodhya, where he is crowned as the king of the world.

Kasturi Thilakam Shlokam

Raga: Arabi

Tala: Arabi

Composer: Sri. Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer

Choreographer: Pasumarthy Master

**An ode to the beauty of the form of the Lord –“ who holds butter and plays the flute; who has eyes like the lotus and a radiant smile; who is a personification of all good qualities, and who is the Lord of the Cows; whose glory makes all the three worlds shine. The Lord who wears beautiful bells and pretty garlands to whom all gopis are attracted to; The Lord who is the savior in Kali Yuga.” At the conclusion we depict, Arjuna giving up his arms and refusing to shoot at his relatives and Gurus in the Kurushetra war and Lord Krishna reveals his true form and tells him to do his duty.**

Maragadha Mani Maya

Raga: Arabhi

Tala: Adi

Composer: Sri. Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer 1700 to 1765 CE

Choreographer: M. Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

**An ode to the beauty of the form of the Lord –“ who holds butter and plays the flute; who has eyes like the lotus and a radiant smile; who is a personification of all good qualities, and who is the Lord of the Cows; whose glory makes all the three worlds shine. The Lord who wears beautiful bells and pretty garlands to whom all gopis are attracted to; The Lord who is the savior in Kali Yuga.” At the conclusion we depict, Arjuna giving up his arms and refusing to shoot at his relatives and Gurus in the Kurushetra war and Lord Krishna reveals his true form and tells him to do his duty.**

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.

Brahma kadigina

Raga: Mukhari

Tala: Adi

Composer: Annamachariar, 14 th century poet

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Lord Venkateswara’s feet are described as the ultimate destination by the devotees. He whose feet are dear and worshiped by even Lord Bhrama, they represent the Bhraman or supreme truth itself.

When as Lord Vishnu you took on the Vaman avatar, your feet covered the earth, heavens and finally, you put the last foot on Mahabali’s head.

Your beautiful feet pressed on the Snake Kaliya’s head as you danced on him in the river Yamuna and they are the same feet that are loving pressed by Shree Lakshmi.

To all the great Yogis who pray at your feet, you offer your blessings, In Tirumala / Tirupathi, I come to see your beautiful feet.

Brindavani Thillana

Raga: Brindavani

Tala: Adi

Composer: Dr. M Balamurali Krishna, 1930 to 2016

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

**The last item in any Bharatanatyam performance is the Tillana, nritta piece or pure dance. The short verse in this concludes – Oh Lord Krishna, I am in the peak of my youth and approach you to be one with you. Just like milk and water mingle and cannot be separated, I want to be one with you. You play on the flute with your small soft fingers and produce this melodious music so pleasing to my ears, that it makes the whole world happy.**

Muddugare Yashodha

Raga: Kurinji

Tala: Adi

Composer: Sri. Annamacharya - 14th Century Poet

Choreographer: Avijit Das

**An ode to Krishna through beautiful gems: Krishna is submerged in a tub of pearls when mother Yashodha is kissing him; He is strong as a diamond when killing Kamsa; His consort Rukmini’s lips are like Coral; He is like Gomedhagam (brown stone) when he lifts the Govardhana Mountain; He glows like the yellow sapphire when dancing on Kaliya the serpent king; He is like the blue sapphire in the form of Lord Venkateshwara. **

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