A Performance of Authenticity by Meera Vashisht on her Arangetram

Photos: Murali Santhana

Photos: Murali Santhana

By Jvalanti Prasad

HOUSTON: On the evening of August 4, Meera Vashisht, a rising sophomore at Awty International School, delighted the audience of The Kaplan Theater during her Bharatanatyam Arangetram under her Guru, Dr. Rathna Kumar of The Anjali Center for Performing Arts. Meera began learning this traditional art form at the young age of four. She then joined the Anjali Center- learning under Dr. Rathna Kumar, whose artistic genius was evident throughout the performance.

Meera commenced the program with praise to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, in Gajanana Gajamukham in admiration of the grace in his movements as he dances as skillfully as his father, Lord Shiva.  The next piece illustrated Meera’s sense of rhythm, or talam. Woven in beat cycles of five, the elaborate pulse demanded mastery over footwork and choreography from both the Guru and the Shishya in the Jatiswaram in ragam Chandrakauns.

ARANGETRAM-IN02Jatiswaram was followed by the most strenuous piece of the performance, the Varnam, which was homage to Sri Rama. Meera depicted numerous stories from the Ramayana showcasing her ability to emote and connect with the audience with the killing of the demons Tadaka and Subhau, the saving of Ahalya, and the destruction of Ravana, the ten-headed demon king. In a more playful aspect, the next piece, Madhav Madan Murari, portrayed not only Krishna as mischievous child who steals butter from the houses of the Gopikas, but also the supreme Lord Krishna who rescues Draupadi from humiliation and disgrace.

 In the next item, Meera embodies Lord Shiva in Gale Bhujang as she describes the Lord whose body is smeared with ash, who is blue from the snake coiled around his neck, and whose matted hair moves as he dances. Following the obeisance to the Lord of Dance, Meera began the next piece, Jaya Durge, with the thrilling story of the destruction of Rakthabeeja, the demon whose every drop of blood created duplicates of himself, by Goddess Durga.

ARANGETRAM-IN03In conclusion, Meera performed the Tillana in ragam Dhanasri and the Mangalam with vibrancy in which she danced as Krishna with the Gopis in the exquisite gardens of Brindavan.

Accompanied by a world class, live orchestra consisting of N.N. Sivaprasad on vocal, N.K Kesavan on Mridangam, B. Muthukumar on Flute, and, Meera’s Guru, Dr. Rathna Kumar on Nattuvangam, the stage was filled with extra ordinary talent and euphoria. With an emotional speech given by her Guru, Meera was given her well-earned diploma. The impeccable décor of the event by talented duo of Vasundhara Kambhampati and Sheela Kovuri added to the authenticity and purity of the event.

 The evening was graced by Congressman Pete Olson and the Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray. Renowned Hindustani Vocalist Pandit Suman Ghosh and founder of Ekal Vidyalaya, Ramesh Shah were also present in the audience. Meera’s talent and dedication as a talented young dancer was on full display with incredible Abhinaya, footwork, and stamina. It is a, “movement of culture and civilization” as Dr. Anupam Ray rightly said. An exceptional dancer does not only perfect every movement and pose, but they also bring the true culture and authenticity of the art form wherever they are in the world. Meera’s display of passion and honesty in everything she does sets the path to her continued success in the future.