Haritha's Bharatanatyam Arangetram

Vish and Radhika have been my close friends pretty much throughout my life in the US. When Haritha was born, I think I was the second person to hold her, right after Vish in the corridor outside the delivery ward in that hospital. In my mind's eye, it appears as if all that happened only a few days ago. It seems a marvel to me that Haritha graduated High school this summer and is going to be a freshman at University of Michigan this fall.

Haritha successfully completed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram last evening at the Towsley Auditorium in Ann Arbor.

Haritha has been learning Bharatanatyam from the renowned teacher in Michigan, Smt. Sudha Chandrasekhar, for the past 7 years. As is common with Smt. Sudha's arangetrams, the program started with the very traditional kavutvam. The trideva kavutvam (Ganesha, Kartikeya, Natesa) is a signature piece of this teacher. This followed by alarippu in 5 beat cycle. Jathisvaram, yet another traditional item followed the alarippu. The shabdam chosen for this evening was a song in praise of Kartikeya (Murugan) in Ragamalika. Haritha breezed through them, as if warming up for the main fare of the evening.

The navaragamalika varnam, svamiyai azhaittodi vaa - a gem of an item to come out of the Rajarajesvari school in Mumbai, with choreography by the legendary Dandayudhasvami Pillai, was a treat. The musical and lyrical richness, embedded with deep bhava were very satisfying to the audience. Haritha truly blossomed during the varnam. Her jathi execution was crisp and precise and the sthayi bhava of deep devotion was very moving. I thoroughly enjoyed this item. The first half concluded with the varnam.

The second half contained several contemporary compositions with an experimental tilt as well as traditional items like kshetrayya padam. The gem of the second half was undoubtedly the tamil krithi, Srinivasa Tiruvenkatamudayay. Haritha took time to develop the lovely story of Srinivasa Kalyanam in the exposition of the charanam in this piece. Thillana was a contemporary composition by vocalist, Sri Gopal Venkataraman in Raga Desh and the very complicated misra jaathi ata talam. I think Haritha's training as a blackbelt holder in Taek Won Do helped her in the execution of this item. I can't imagine anyone with less athletic training attempting this piece, much less executing it with such grace as Haritha did. The brief question-answer episode between the drummer's fingers and the dancer's feet regaled the audience.

The program concluded with a very cute kurathi dance, the dance of the female fortune teller from the hills of central Tamil Nadu.

The lasting impression one had at the end of the program was one of devotion. This may be Haritha's devotion to the dance form and her teacher, and indeed to Nataraja himself. Or it may be the devotional sthayi bhava pervading the whole program from start to finish, with a few sancharis of khanditha nayika here, a little bit of humor there. To say Haritha looked very good in her dance costumes and make up is an understatement - she carried the burden very gracefully indeed. Special mentioned should be made of the very striking maroon silk number in which she performed that Srinivasa Krithi. The kurathi costume too was beautiful.

Sri Jayasingam was marvelous as ever on Mrudangam. The male vocalist, and composer of couple of songs performed this evening, Sri Gopal was good. Veena by Praba Thayalan and Flute by Sunita Grandhi provided melodious interludes in the transition spaces. It is a pleasure to watch local talented young vocalists being given a chance to prove their mettle - congratulations to the Rajkumar sisters (Kritika and Akshaya) for doing a very good job. However - this is my personal peeve - Smt. Vidhya, the lead female vocalist's antics on stage and the cutesy program announcements may be toned down a bit. Arangetram is certainly a challenge and test to the young dancer. Yet, it is also the exposition of an art form, one of the finest, a search for the ultimate aesthetic, and a beginning of discovery. Listening to Smt. Vidhya gave me an impression that perhaps Haritha was competing in 400 meter relay race or pole vault - not Bharatanatyam!

Kudos to Smt. Sudha one her 70th arangetram in her illustrious teaching career. Madam, you are a boon to the young people of Southeast Michigan, instilling both discipline and a search for beauty in them, and constantly inspiring them to reach greater heights.

I have had the pleasure of watching Haritha grow up from a toddler to child to an audacious adolescent to a tenacious teenager. Now she is a confident and accomplished young woman. It amazes me how such a young person is so focused and clear-headed, and yet so kind and humble. Eighteen years ago, I held the tiny little infant in my arms in the hospital corridor, and marveled at the power of creation. Yesterday, I beheld this accomplished young woman bubbling with life, and marveled at the power of creation.

Haritha, God bless you!


May god bless you Haritha.and reach greater heights in studies and dance.. keep going..
భావన said…
May God Bless you Haritha. Wish You all the best in your new endeavors. Kotta paali garu why didn't you include some arangetram pictures also.
Anonymous said…
ఎక్కడో విదేశాలలో వుంటూ కూడా మన సాంప్రదాయ నృత్యాలను నేర్చుకుంటున్న హరితకు మరియు ఆ అమ్మాయిను ప్రోత్సాహించు వారందరికి నా జోహార్లు.