Welcome to an evening of exciting dance performance by Venya Pillai.

On behalf of From within Dance Academy and Venya'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!

Venyais 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.

Khandam Alarippu

Raga: null

Tala: Khandachapu

Composer: Traditional

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

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. Today’s allarippu is performed to a count of five beats.

Ayyappan Shabdam

Raga: Ragamalika

Tala: Misrachapu

Composer: adapted from Smt Ranganayaki Jayaraman

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The next item is the shabdam. The shabdam has both nritta-abstract pure dance and abhinaya, expressive emotive components. In tonight’s performance, the shabdam is in praise of Lord Ayyappan, a hindu deity worshipped all across India.

Lord Ayyappan, is the son, of Lord Shiva and Mohini, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu

It is said that Lord Ayyapan was born with a bell around his neck.

When Lord Ayyappan was born, he was left in the forest where he was later found by the King of

Pandalam and his minister.

The King took the baby home and raised him as his own.

The legendary stories that surround Lord Ayyappan are described in this Shabdam.

The first story is from his childhood where it was said that when Ayyappan’s foster mother fell sick, she was prescribed tiger’s milk.

Young Ayyappan bravely took up the task to go to the forest to get the milk, and came back riding on the tiger’s back.

The second story is about the evil Asura princess Mahishi, who endlessly tormented the three worlds.

To end world misery, Ayyappan sets off after Mahishi and destroys her, becoming a savior to the world.

The song then goes on in praise of Lord Ayyappan, saying

Even if I am separated from you, I will come to you with an Irumudi, on my head.

An Irumudi is an inseparable bundle carried by the devotee during the pilgrimage to Sabarimala, the abode of Lord Ayyappan. An irumudi, is a specially designed bag made usually of hand woven cotton cloth with two compartments.

One compartment holds the offerings to the deities - a coconut, incense sticks, a lamp, and flowers, the other compartment holds the personal belongings of the devotee.

The poet goes on to say:

In the jungle, there maybe many tigers and snakes but we will still come to you and climb the 18 steps, just to see you.

New Jathiswaram - NEW

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Reetigowla Varnam

Raga: Reetigowalai

Tala: Adi

Composer: Thirumalai Srinivas, Krishnaashtotharam

Choreographer: Smt. M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Varnam is the center piece of an Arangetram, depicting various stories from Srimad Bhagavatam or Shri Krishna’s life. The episodes depcited today are - Krishna's birth – Lord Kamsa, Krishna’s maternal uncle, is dashing to death, each of his sister Devaki's seven children. Vasudeva smuggling the eighth baby out of the prison to Nandagopa's home, crossing over the river Yamuna and exchanging Krishna with Yashoda’s child. Finally YogaMaya predicting Kamsa's doom. Krishna killing Poothana, the demon who comes in the disguise of a beautiful woman and tries to poison Krishna to death only to her own demise. Krishna's Gitopadesham to Prince Arjuna when he gives up his arms refusing to fight against his cousins the Kaurava Princes, on the battle ground of Kurukshetra. Princess Draupadi is humiliated by Dushasana in open court, when he grabs her by her hair and tries to disrobe her and Krishna blesses her with a unending saree and saves her virtue, the play between Krishna, when he hides the
clothes of his Gopis, as they are bathing in the river that he hands back to win their hearts.l and finally, Krishna’s dance on the serpent King Kaliya's head.

Natanam Adinar

Raga: Vasantha

Tala: Ata

Composer: Gopalakrishna Bharati (1810-1896)

Choreographer: Sugandha Sreenath

The Keerthanam “Natanam Adinar” describes the blissful dance of Lord Shiva. It is a celebration of Shiva, the cosmic dancer who balances creation and destruction. The references to the story of Agastya, Chidambaram and the Sollukattu swaras makes this dance energizing and majestic.
Lord Nataraja danced in style and joy, in the golden halls of temple.

As promised, at Mount Kailash, at the request of sages,
HE came to Chidambaram in the Tamil month of Tai (December-January) during the Guru Poosam star and danced during the day.

He danced with the eight directions trembling, Serpent Adhisesha’s head(hood) rocking, the Earth shaking and drops of Ganges trickling from his matted knot of hair.

(Gopalakrishna sang with love).

Lord Shiva’s matted tresses swayed to the rhythm of his dance, so did the hoods of snakes adorned by him.

Darungee Rang Darungee

Raga: Hindolam

Tala: Adi

Composer: Meera

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

The special item is a depiction of the North Indian color festival of Holi using the lyrics of Meera’s bhajan sung with love for Lord Krishna. She is pining for him as he plays his flute on the banks of Yamuna River in Brindavan. She is ecstatic when he engages in the color play with color powder and sprinkles color water on her.

Vishamakaara Kannan

Raga: Chensurutti

Tala: Adi

Composer: Oothukaadu Venkatasubbaiyar

Choreographer: M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

This lively song describes the pranks Krishna plays on the gopikas of Gokul, and how he wins their hearts.

While Krishna and his friends make a human pyramid and steal a pot of butter hanging from the ceiling, the gopika arrives and catches him red handed. She wants to take him to his mother Yashoda, but is unable to lift him up. She then tries to tie him with a rope and pull him, but is not able to.

When the gopika is churning butter, Krishna pleads for more and more butter and is never satisfied. When Krishna throws a tantrum, the gopika accepts a bribe from Krishna and plays with him and enjoys his singing and dancing.

She says “He is blue like the sky, and resides in their hearts”

In the concluding verse, Krishna asks the girl from next door to sing for him and when she says she doesn't know that particular song, he pinches her cheek and laughs at her. The gopika soothes the girl and scolds Krishna but her anger soon melts away and she enjoys dressing him up elaborately.

Paras Thillana

Raga: Paras

Tala: Adi

Composer: Pooci Sreenivaasa Aiyyangaar 1860 to 1919

Choreographer: Kalakshetra

This is a fast and lively dance, which traditionally concludes a Bharathanatyam recital. **The thillana is a pure dance or nritta piece. The composer invokes the grace of Goddess Abirami also known as Raja Rajeswari**

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