Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nrityanjali's Sharanarpitam - Wonderful

Thursday evening was grand for us. I was very excited to have an invitation for a Bharatanatyam dance performance of my friend's daughter. I had learnt the art as a child and I now know to appreciate Bharatanatyam. I can sit for hours together watching dance performances.

So, off we went to this place called Al Wadi Al Khabir and struggled to find a parking space outside the venue, Crystal Suites. Inside, there was an event manager who directed us to the place and our friends came out of the hall with two passes. The effect inside the hall was theatrical and the first performance of the children had begun.

The programme started with a lot of Shlokhas sung on various Hindu Gods and Godesses. All the children who took part in this dance were under seven years of age. The stage was colorful and the lighting was perfect. I liked the grace, the style, the ease and the uniformity with which the children did their performance. It gave the best first impression on the whole programme.

We decided not to sit and look at the heads of people in front of us, so took the farthest corner of the hall from where we could see every move of every student on stage without any hindrance. Neither of us is very tall, so this standee state was the best decision that we took that evening. The hall was brimming with friends and parents of the children peforming on the stage. I stopped for a second, wished sincerely that these children get to perform on Chennai stage where the hall will have at least three to four times the crowd I saw in the 300 seater ball room at Crystal Suites.

In Chennai, all the children can wear natural Jasmine flowers which are rare find in Muscat. So, for this programme, all the little heads were adorned with artificial flowers which beat the real ones in their carefully woven strands. The importance of South Indian attire which almost always includes flowers on children and women's hair-do made me smile with pride. Oh yes, I am a super-proud Tamilian who loves Jasmine flowers and South Indian traditions.

I am used to seeing the traditional dance dresses which have a silk finish, contrast borders, pyjamas with frilled pleats and frilled blouses for children. The seasoned and age-wise senior dancers wear a silk saree styled the same way. Now, for this programme, I was expecting something like that on stage. But it turned out that the dress sense was different, new, and modern without compromising on the traditional look. Most of the children had a Salwar Kameez (which they can use for any function later) designed to look like the traditional dance attire. The color choice and the designing was over and beyond anyone's expectation there.

The rest of the programme had the famous En Pallikondeeraiya with a group of students conveying the meaning of the song in as best a manner as could be possible. Then there was the highlight of the day where a group of eight students danced to the rhythm of a song on Mata Durga Devi. If I were to ask a once more, I would definitely ask for this song. It was about the Godess Durga Devi, the all-powerful Goddess in India.

I loved the Abhyasam where a group of dancers showcased what they do each day in their dance classes. It had a few basic dance steps that the children are taught early on in dance sessions. These steps help to keep focus on the Jathi, Thala and the Mudras later on.

There was a Bharatiyar song which was centered around the rain and how people rejoice. Was wondering when was the last time any one us would have really danced in rain. Well, we talk about umbrellas and rain coats and staying indoors because we would fall ill.. In effect forget that rain is a wonderful gift.. Must be farmers to know what rain means really. The dance was rejuvenating to the mind and the colors of the dresses and the stage was a treat to the eyes.

The voice that sang for the whole programme and the team that supported the excellent vocalists is worth a mention. The Nrityanjali group felicitated all of the Orchestra and the chief guest addressed the audience. The last programme was that of the Guruji. Smt. Premila Ramesh herself. We could not stay for the programme, but then I am sure it would have been the highlight anyway. Her students' performance spoke volumes about the teacher's skillset. We missed it but had to leave.

You must remember that this performance is in Muscat, Oman, far far away from India and in this place to stage a wonderful dance performance in a close to traditional way is not an easy task and all appreciations to Nrityanjali's dance teacher, Smt. Premila Ramesh who along with her team of well wishers and students has made this show a grand success.

Dance - always a wonderful energizer. I wished many times during the programme to dance right where I was, but then remembered I was in a huge crowd and can't do that. If you ask me, any good dance performance must make you also dance to the tune. I saw such a performance day before yesterday, one that will remain in my mind for many years to come.

And the best part of Thursday was that it gave me a chance to know that my husband likes the art too and ofcourse is a good sign that says, I can attend many dance programmes in future.

Nrityanjali's Sharanarpitam - A wonderful experience. All thanks to my friends who invited us for the programme, else watching a traditional and professional dance programme in Muscat, was something that I never even imagined.

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