Student of Smt. Lakshmi Swaminathan
July 7th at the JCC Bender Auditorium in Maryland
We are currently in the midst of the Annual Arangetram season, and I was fortunate to receive invitations to attend the arangetrams of students of many of the dance teachers in our area. The first such event I was able to attend was the arangetram of Sneha Kripanandan on July 7th at the JCC Bender Auditorium in Maryland., Sneha is a student of Smt. Lakshmi Swaminathan.
I had seen Sneha perform on many occasions in the past and enjoyed watching her dance. She is a good dancer and I had expected a standard Arangetram as well. Rising well above my expectations, Sneha put together a truly impressive performance that deserves the utmost praise.
The performance began with a melodious prayer in praise of the Goddess Saraswathi rendered by Sri G. Srikanth, the vocalist for the arangetram. Following the prayer, Sneha entered the stage with confidence and gave a graceful performance of Oottukadu Sri Vekatasubbaiyer’s composition, Sri Vighnarajam Bhaje in the Raga Gambheera Natta and set to Khanda chapu tala. The piece was choreographed by renowned dancer and brilliant choreographer, Sri. N. Srikanth. The performance then transitioned to a Jatiswaram in the raga Bhairavi choreographed by Sneha’s guru, where Sneha did an excellent job with her footwork. In order to showcase Sneha’s abhinaya, the next piece was a bhajan composed by Saint Tulsidas - Sri Ramachandra Krupalu Bhajumana. Departing from the traditional rendition of the song in Yaman Kalyani, the song was sung in the raga Hamsadhwani, which gave it a very different feel and complemented Sneha’s performance well.
After this piece, we arrived at the center piece of the traditional Arangetram Margam, the Padavarnam. In place of Padavarnam, Sneha performed a Daru Varnam composed by Sri Muttiah Bhagavatar and choreographed by the highly distinguished danseuse, Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy. In the piece, Sneha eloquently narrated the slaying of the demon, Mahishasura, and navigated complex jathis and swaras with ease, highlighting her mastery over both nritta and abhinaya. Sri. G. Srikanth's soulful singing was blissful and thoroughly did justice to the beauty of the Varnam.
The second half of the arangetram began with bhajan in praise of Lord Shiva in the raga Puriya Dhanashri and set to Mishrachapu Tala. The bhajan was sung in the traditional Hindustani style with slow, lilting phrases that were so wonderfully captured by Smt. Lakshmi Swaminathan’s choreography. Sneha was able to execute the forceful movements often attributed to Lord Shiva, while also dancing with grace, such that both the song and dance did not lose its underlying vibrant meaning. Contrasting the previous piece, the next item, which was choreographed by Sri N. Srikanth, was a popular song in Malayalam, “Keshadi Padam” by P. Bhaskaran. The song was in praise of Lord Guruvayurappan and the bhakti bhava was very elegantly exhibited by Sneha.
Next on the list of items was a piece on Lord Muruga composed by Sri. Madurai N. Krishnan - Varuga Varuga. Sneha did a masterful job in capturing the yearning feeling of the heroine that was portrayed in the song. It was evident that Guru Lakshmi Swaminathan’s meticulous training had paid off.
The arrangetram concluded with Maharaja Swati Tirunal’s popular Thillana in the raga Dhanashri, which was a choreography of Dr. Uma Anand. The Thillana was immediately followed by the traditional mangalam.
While Sneha deserves the utmost praise for her wonderful performance, it was enhanced by the outstanding orchestral team. From Sri G. Srikanth’s extraordinarily melodious voice, to the brilliant and imaginative percussive support on the mridangam by Sri Hari Babu, to Smt. Sandhya Srinath’s flawless violin playing, Sri Mohan Raj’s mellifluous flute playing, and finally Sneha’s Guru, Smt. Lakshmi Swaminathan’s effortless nattuvangam, the performance was truly one to remember!
Vani comes from a family of musicians. She had her initial training in Mysore style from Sri. T.N. Somashekar and later on went under the tutelage of Natyacharya K. Muralidhar Rao, of Pandanallur style. She holds a Masters degree in Arts from Mysore University and is the recipient of Gold Medal in South Indian Studies.Vani has performed, conducted workshops and given Lecture-Demonstrations in many cities in India and America. She has given many fund raiser performances with her students to raise money for many noble causes. She was awarded and honored by Vasundhara Performing Arts in Mysore & Kaveri Kannada Association for preserving and propagating the art of Bharatanatyam in the US. At present Vani resides in Burke, Virginia and is the director of “Srishti School of Dance” training many students in the Bharatanatyam.
* All views are of the contributor.
** Pics Credit: Lakshmi Viswanathan
PriyaLasya Classical Dance Platform - Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Mohiniyattam, Manipuri, Kathakali, Chhau, Sattriya
Lakshmi Viswanathan, Sneha Kripanandan, JCC Bender Auditorium, Maryland.
Appeal For Support
** Please contribute for a worthy cause of promoting Indian Classical Dance. Join the membership. For details please visit www.priyalasya.org