Welcome to an evening of exciting dance performance by Sneha Sharma.

On behalf of From within Dance Academy and Sneha'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!

Snehais 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.

Andolika Pushpanjali

Raga: Andolika

Tala: Adi

Composer: Neela Ramanuja

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

**We commence this evening's program 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 the Lord of Dance, the Deity of Chidambaram temple - Lord Nataraja.**

_Krupa samaudram, sumukham, trinethram,_

_Jadadaharam, Parvathi vama bhagam,_

_Sada shivam, rudramanantha roopam,_

_Chidambaresam hrudhi bhavayami. 1_

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**I meditate on that Lord of Chidambaram,**

**Who is the ocean of mercy,**

**Who has a pleasant mind,**

**Who has three eyes,**

**Who has matted locks,**

**Who shares his body with Parvathy on his left side,**

**Who is ever peaceful,**

**And who is limitless and angry.**

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**_Visweswaram nithyamananthamadhyam,_**

**_Trilochanam chandrakalavathamsam,_**

**_Pathim pasoonam hrudhi sannivishtam,_**

**_Chidambaresam hrudhi bhavayami. 9_**

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**I meditate on that Lord of Chidambaram,**

**Who is the lord of the universe,**

**Who is stable from beginning to end,**

**Who has three eyes,**

**Who wears the crescent of the moon,**

**Who lives in the mind of beings as their lord.**

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**_Kalyana murthim kanakadri chapam,_**

**_Kantha samakrantha nijardha deham,_**

**_Kapardhinam kamaripum purarim,_**

**_Chidambaresam hrudhi bhavayami. 13_**

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**I meditate on that Lord of Chidambaram,**

**Who is the God of good,**

**Who makes the golden mountain as his bow,**

**Who has given and shares his body with his wife,**

**Who is the God with matted locks,**

**Who is the enemy of the lord of love,**

**And who is the destroyer of the cities.**

Three Jathi Alarippu

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Tri jathi

Composer: N G Ravi

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

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

Saveri Jathiswaram

Raga: Saveri

Tala: Misrachapu

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: Kalakshetra

A "Jathiswaram" is a pure dance presentation, devoid of any abhinaya (emotions), in which, intricate sequences are fused with repetitive musical notes. 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.

Mahalakshmi Kavuthuvam

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Mishra Chapu

Composer: Smt. Neela Ramanuja and Shri Ramanuja

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Lakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from its elemental form lakS, meaning "to perceive or observe". This is synonymous with lakṣya, meaning "aim" or "objective". In Hindu sacred texts, the Vedas call Mahalakshmi Lakshyayidhi Lakshmihi which means she is the one who has the object and aim of uplifting mankind. Mahalakshmi is called Shri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or Gunas, and also because she is the source of strength even to Lord Narayana.

In Hinduism, Devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were both mortal at one time. Amrit, the divine nectar that would grant immortality, could be obtained only by churning the Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk). The devas and asuras both sought immortality and decided to churn the Kshirsagar. With the devas on one side and the asuras on the other, the samudra manthan commenced. Vishnu incarnated as Kurma, the tortoise, on whom was placed a mountain as a churning pole; Vasuki, the great venom-spewing serpent, was wrapped around it and used to churn the ocean. A host of divine celestial objects came up during the churning. Among these, was the goddess Lakshmi, the daughter of the king of the milky ocean. This is depicted in the dance. The Goddess wore a red sari and moved about quickly like lightning and all the beings were enchanted. They offered her gifts which she readily accepted and finally garlanded Maha Vishnu to be his consort.

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Mahalakshmi was also born to the great sage Bhrigu, and she is therefore also called Bhargavi. Mahalakshmi is also the sister of the great guru Sukracharya as well as the great planet Chandra.

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According to the Vishnu Purana, Mahalakshmi's presence is also found on Lord Sri Venkateswara (at Tirumala) or Vishnu's chest, at the heart. Lakshmi is the embodiment of love, from which devotion to God or Bhakti flows from. It is through Love/Bhakti or Lakshmi that the atma or soul is able to reach God or Vishnu. Lakshmi plays a special role as the mediator between her husband Lord Vishnu and His worldly devotees. While Vishnu is often conceived of as a stern, easily perturbed patriarch, Lakshmi represents a more soothing, warm and approachable mother figure who willingly intervenes in the lives of devotees on His behalf.

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Lakshmi is the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyaati and resided in Swarga, but, due to the curse of Durvasa, she left Swarga and made Ksheersagara her home.

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This Kauthuvam prays to her for the well being of all the audience members.



This evening’s Kavuthuvam is

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in praise of Goddess Lakshmi- goddess of wealth and prosperity

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The poet describes the Goddess as:

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The daughter of Sage Brighu,

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who is born again during the churning of the milky ocean.

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The Devas and asuras are so enthralled by her beauty that they offer her all their ornaments.

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She graciously accepts their gifts and blesses everyone.

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Her abode is Sri Rangam with Lord Ranganatha,

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She is served by all the divine ladies in heaven,

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She is the guiding light of the world,

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by her grace, Brahma, Indra and Shiva have attained high positions

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Her abode is the three worlds

She wears the garland made of Lotus flowers

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All the Devas watch her reside in the Lord’s heart.

The one filled with compassion

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The one who is the beloved of the Lord

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The poet concludes by saying: Praying to this Almighty Goddess leads us to salvation.

Shanmugapriya Varnam

Raga: Shanmugapriya

Tala: Adi

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

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

The first segment demonstrates how Shiva is the god of the gods. Vishnu and Brahma begin an argument about which of them is the most powerful. Shiva transforms into a beam of light and challenges Brahma and Vishnu to a race to find either end of the beam. Vishnu becomes his Varaha avatar (boar) and strives to find the bottom while Brahma becomes a goose and seeks the top. Neither of them are successful and realise how conceited they have been. In the end, they understand and acknowledge that Shiva is truly the god of all gods.

In the next section, the dancers depict how Shiva dances in the golden hall of the temple in Chidambara. He applies ash on his body and adorns himself with snakes and tiger skin. The river Ganga (Ganges river) flows out the matted locks on his head and he also wears a crescent moon. Shiva is the Lord of dance.

Bharatanatyam includes Bhava, Raga and Tala - bha ra tha. The poet in this verse says that the dance of Shiva has it all - expression, emotion, rhythm and music. Shiva dances the tandava to the beat of the music. In this particular segment, the dancer depicts the Tandava dance as Shiva and Parvati to select Shivashtakam verses.

This next section describes how Shivaratri came to be. A man was traveling through the woods when a tiger charges him. Terrified, the man scrambles up a tree and spends the night worrying, plucking leaves and dropping them on the ground to stay awake. As the morn arrives, he rejoices and peeps down to see no tiger waiting for him. He leaps from the branches only to see none other than Shiva himself standing next to a Shivalinga. As it turns out, the leaves the man plucked had been falling upon a Shivalinga at the base of the tree. As he was keeping himself awake, he had been conducting a puja for the lord all night long. Shiva blesses the man and this is how Shivaratri is celebrated.

The next verses go into the description of how Lord Shiva burns down Kama, the God of Love when he disturbs his meditation. It also describes Lord Shiva's benevolence when his devotee Markandeya is troubled by Lord Yama, the God of death. Lord Shiva wears the crescent moon on his matted locks of hair, bears Godess Parvathi to be half of him in his Ardhanari form and also drinks up the poison Alahala when it emerges from the ocean thereby getting his blue neck, the father of Lord Ganesha, he lifts his left leg high in the air and does his cosmic dance to the delight of his devotees who pray. “Come oh Shiva and remove my sorrows and bless me, husband of Girija (Parvathi). Oh dancing God take pity on my being and give me salvation.” The next verse praises the different aspects of Shiva and beseeches him to come quickly. The use of the syllable ' va ' at the end of every line, makes this a very beautiful verse.

Hanuman Katha

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Adi

Composer: Tulsidas (1532–1623)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The Hanuman Chalisa is a[ Hindu](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism) devotional hymn addressed to[ Hanuman](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanuman). It is traditionally believed to have been authored by[ Tulsidas](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsidas) in the[ Awadhi](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awadhi) language and is his best known text apart from the[ Ramcharitmanas](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramcharitmanas).

Hanuman is a[ vanara](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanara) (a[ monkey](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey)-like humanoid deity), a devotee of[ Rama](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rama), and one of the central characters in the[ Sanskrit epic](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_epic)[ Ramayana](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana). We depict some verses from the Chalisa today.

We begin with the storyteller or Kathakar offering obeisance to the Guru. “Cleansing the mirror in the form of my mind with the pollen of the lotus-feet of the Guru, I describe the unblemished glory of Rama, which bestows the four fruits.” This piece is presented in three parts.

Part 1 depicts the many virtuous qualities of Hanuman including his beautiful luminous form and his might in using the mace as his choice of weapon.

Part 2 depicts his meeting with Lord Rama and his devotion to help find Sita including hand off Lord Rama’s ring as a sign to her.

Part 3 depicts Hanuman’s role in finding the Sanjeevani plant when Laksmana faints after receiving a blow from Ravana’s son Indrajit.

All glories to Rama, Sita and Hanuman!

Chaliye Kunjanamo Padam

Raga: Brindavana Saranga

Tala: Adi

Composer: Swathi Tirunal

Choreographer: Avijit Das

The lovelorn Gopi searches for Krishna and pleads with him to go with her to the garden, where fragrant flowers are in full bloom. She says - come let us share our happiness by being together and enjoying the swing. As he tries to go away to do his work, she cajoles with him to look at the beautiful Jamuna that flows beautifully quenching the thirst of the earth. Oh how can you leave my hands, for I have entrusted my life with you. How can I let go of this opportunity to be with you? She applies sandalwood paste on him and requests he do the same. When he is reluctant, she asks him to listen to the cooing cuckoo. She is indicating that the moment is right for their love and to play the dance of ‘Raas’ . Oh my Lord, come to Kunajanamo where you and I can be together, be one ..... come!!!

Ramachandra Kripalu

Raga: Yamuna Kalyani

Tala: Misra Chapu

Composer: Saint Tulsidas, 16th Century poet

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Rāma is more beautiful than that all the lotuses in the pond. He is the ideal King who was willing to even separate from his wife Sita to follow the law of the land that dictated that a woman who had stayed under the roof of another man could no longer go back to her husband. Knowing fully well that Sita is guileless, he controls his own feelings and tells her she is free to go anywhere she wishes after he kills Ravana and rescues her from Lanka. Sita requests Lakshmana to build a pyre and emerges unscathed. Rāma reunited with her following everyone hearing a celestial voice that commands their union. The people of Ayodhya are ecstatic that their King Rama returns to their kingdom and celebrate and crown him King.

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We revere Shri Ramachandra, who removes 'Bhava' the worldly sorrow or pain, 'Bhaya' the fear, and 'Daruna' the scarcity or poverty.
Rāma has fresh lotus eyes, lotus face and lotus hands, feet like lotus and like the rising sun. His beauty exceeds innumerable Kaamdevs (Cupids). He is like a newly formed beautiful blue cloud. The yellow robe on his body appears bright like lightening. He is the consort of the daughter of Sri Janak (Sri Sita), the embodiment of sacredness. He is the lord of solar dynasty and protects the downtrodden. He is the destroyer of demons adevils and their race.
He is a descendant of Sri Raghu. He gives joy to Ayodhya like a moon. He is the son of Sri Dashrath. He wears crown on his head, kundala or ornaments on his ear and tilak (crimson mark) on his forehead and other beautiful adornments.
His powerful arms reach his knees. He holds a bow and an arrow and emerged victorious in the battle with demons Khar and Dushan. Thus says Sri Tulsidas –the one who is pleasing to Lord Shiv, Sri Shesh and saints, reside in the lotus of my heart and destroy evil and protect me. **

Dhanashri Thillana

Raga: Dhanashree

Tala: Adi

Composer: Maharaja Swati Tirunal (1813-1846)

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

**The last item in any Bharatanatyam performance is the Tillana and is mainly a nritta piece or pure dance number in praise of Lord Krishna dancing with the gopis to the sounds of different musical instruments. There is a short verse which means – the gopis are dancing wearing their anklets, as the musical instruments play, there is sweet sound as they dance. Oh Lord Padumanabha, what can I say about all your different pastimes, remover of my sorrows, I bow at your feet. Radha looks for Krishna at the appointed hour when he says he will come. He comes late but she is delighted when he arrives and joins in the dance.**

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