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Bharathi Kalai Manram Presents Fundraiser for Anjali Center

Photos: Amitava Sarkar

Photos: Amitava Sarkar

HOUSTON: In a gesture of great generosity, Bharathi Kalai Manram presented the Anjali Dance Company in a fundraising program for the rebuilding of the Harvey-damaged Anjali Center. Pranamya: Obeisance to the Gods, as the program was called, was very well conceived and beautifully choreographed by Rathna Kumar, the Center’s Director. In deference to the organization, most of the dances were in the Tamil language.

The show began with a soulfully rendered prayer by the young sisters, Pavithra and Bhargavi Chandrasekhar, students of Rathna Kumar and Vidushi Rajarajeshwary Bhat. Following tradition, the dance segment commenced with a vibrant group rendering of Madurai R. Muralidaran’s Thunga Karimugam, in praise of the joyful dancing Ganapathy, performed by Ananya Gokhale, Divya Koothan, Keerthana Verma, Lakshmi Subramania, Nethra Subramanian, Radhika Daru,  and Shriya Fruitwala. followed by an unusual Mandooka Sabdam, which, according to Rathna Kumar, is an original Kuchipudi song that was converted into a Bharatanatyam Sabdam by her Guru’s Guru, the iconoclastic Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai. This solo, with episodes from the Ramayana, was beautifully presented by Jvalanti Prasad, whose posture, grace and technique were enviably perfect. Agastya Mahamuni’s Sri Chakra Raja Simhasaneswari, choreographed and sung by Guru Narasimhachari, and performed with feeling and dignity by his student Venugopal Josyula, the Center’s Assistant Director, drew loud applause from the audience. The central piece of the show, a dynamic Varnam, Aadum Mayilmel Varuvaan, also by Madurai Muralidaran, described the peacock-riding Lord Muruga and his various exploits. The rhythmic sequences were choreographedgcg imaginatively, as for instance the first one, which was done entirely using the mudra or hand gesture representing the peacock.

The stories were acted out in a very interesting manner by the group, each dancer playing a different character, making it easy for the audience to understand. Three more solos were presented before the unusual finale, performed by a quartet. Amulya Peri, with her big, expressive eyes, was the very personification of fury as she became Durga, the destroyer of Mahishasura, in Padma Vibhushan M. Balamuralikrishna’s unforgettable Omkarakarini. Samyukta Hari’s intense Neene Anaadha Bandhu (Purandaradasa) clearly proved her maturity as a dancer, considering the ease with which she changed roles from the wily Duryodhana to the wavering Yudhishtir, and from the evil Dusshasana to the helpless Draupadi. A powerful and high energy Sambhu Natanam by Isha Parupudi left the audience breathless as Isha alternately leaped,cccc spun in circles, and froze in sculpturesque poses. Patanjali’s paean to Nataraja was followed by Nrittaarpanam, a lively composition by veena maestro Rajesh Vaidhya, choreographed with many off beat formations and juxtapositions by Rathna Kumar and performed with élan by Divya, Lakshmi Shriya and Isha. The ensemble offered its final salutations through a Mangalam on Sri Rama. BKM President Thiru Ramachandran expressed his appreciation for Rathna Kumar’s work in the community and the four decade old bond between her and BKM. He hoped that BKM’s gesture will be one small step in helping the Anjali Center get back on its feet. Vijaya Ramachandran, Vice President Mani Subramanian, and Treasurer Priya Chandru were on hand to felicitate Rathna Kumar and the Anjali Dance Company.  As a member of the audience commented at the end of the show – “it was a very classy performance”.

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