Sangamam – An Extraordinary Performance by Young US Based Dancers


Megna Murali. Photos: Amitava Sarkar

By Thara Narasimhan and Rathna Kumar
HOUSTON: On February 22, Indian Performing Arts Samskriti presented Sangamam, a confluence of three Indian classical dance forms, at JCC’s Kaplan Theater. This was the curtain opener for Samskriti’s 2014 calendar of events and its year long celebration of twenty years of service to Houston arts, and also the inaugural performance for its Stars on the Horizon initiative, with three exceptionally talented dancers presenting an impeccable and thoroughly professional performance. Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak were seen in all their distinct beauty, making one proud of the richness and diversity of Indian classical dance. The juxtaposition of the dances, with the three forms cleverly mixed and matched throughout the performance, gave the audience a better insight into the differences and similarities between the three. The evocative facial expressions, subtle shifts of mood and emotions and complex rhythmic patterns that each dancer demonstrated showed their caliber as performers par excellence. The Stars on the Horizon series, initiated by Samskriti’s Artistic Director Rathna Kumar, will stage performances twice a year by young talented artistes based in the United States.

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Sangita Rangala

The exquisitely beautiful Sangita Rangala, originally a Houstonian and currently a Medical Director of the Edward Hospital Care Center in Chicago, is a disciple of Rathna Kumar and Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam and his son Vempati Ravishankar. Her three Kuchipudi were a study in grace and beauty and revealed Sangita’s maturity and emotive skills. It was quite obvious that for Sangita dance is a passion, not a choice.

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Sophia Salingaros

Nineteen year old Megna Murali of Dallas, endowed with enviable artistic talents that cover Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Modern and Flamenco dance styles as well as Carnatic Music, chose three excellent Kathak dances for her presentation. Her Guru, Murali Mohan Kalvakalva of Nartan Academy of Dance and Music (NADAM), Bangalore, would have been immensely proud of his sishya had he been in the audience. In her exciting finale, Megna’s prodigious talents came to the fore, and her infectious smile and joyous abandon showed her immense love for dance.
Sophia Salingaros, 17, proved that dance and music have no geographical or linguistic barriers. The naturally talented Greek-Belgian American teenager displayed perfect technique and powerful emotions and captivated the audience with her sculpturesque poses and her amazing steadiness. Sophia is passionate about Bharatanatyam and wishes to pursue it professionally, and is also learning Carnatic music to complement her dance. She also performs ballet and piano and loves to draw. Sophia was accompanied by her proud and happy Guru, Dr. Sreedhara of Kaveri Natya Yoga Dance School, San Antonio.
Chief Guest Nandita Parvathaneni, wife of the Consul General of India in Houston, an eloquent speaker in her own right, praised the dancers and congratulated the Samskriti Board for bringing such incredible performances and artists to Houston. Thara Narasimhan, President of Samskriti introduced the current Board & Advisory Board members, who were all in attendance – Prabha & Sesh Bala, Roopa Gir, Deepthi Raju, Vish Bhaskaran, Sheela Rao, Suma Mudan, Anil Kumar and Anuradha Subramanian.
Samskriti’s next major event is DASHAVATAR, The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu, on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at the Wortham Center. All of Samskriti’s programs are funded in part by grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts & the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Asia Society Texas Center is its Arts Partner.

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