Scintillating Debut Performance by Nethra Kaushik


Nethra Kaushik

By Surabi Veeraraghavan

HOUSTON: On the August 14, Houston rasikas witnessed a breathtaking debut performance of the young and talented Nethra Kaushik, who mesmerized the audience with her sophisticated nritta and deeply meditative abhinaya.  Blessed with grace and agility of a born dancer, Nethra’s performance at the Bayou Theatre was a culmination of years of hard work and training under the tutelage of her guru Smt. Indrani Parthasarathy, founder/artistic director of the Abhinaya School of Dance.

Nethra began her performance with a scintillating pushpanjali; beautiful Anga Shudham, firm footwork and grace were highlights of her opening piece, while setting the tone of excellence for the rest of the evening’s performance. In the jatiswaram in Ragam Bahudari, Nethra handled the complicated swaras with much confidence and perfect arai mandi, weaving beautiful patterned sequences.

The varnam that was chosen for the evening was the ever-popular Angayarkanni, a navaragamalika, a Tamil composition of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman. A varnam is considered a test of the dancer’s endurance, ability, skill and maturity, since this piece not only highlights the rhythmic footwork, but also brings the best of the emotive component of Bharatanatyam. Nethra’s thala gnyanam was evident in the way she handled all the fast paced jathis with extremely precise footwork. Another highlight was the coordination between the dancer and the members of the orchestra, with stunning interludes of percussion and garlands of solkattus, which certainly elevated the quality of the piece.  Although Nethra performed every piece with intense focus and inordinate maturity, the varnam brought out her ability to tell beautiful mythological stories from our puranas. Her transformation into nine different characters portraying nine different emotions or the navarasas was mesmerizing and highly commendable.  Her aharya abhinaya through her gorgeous costumes and jewelry added another layer of beauty and grace to the whole performance.


The second half of the performance began with a devarnama, a composition of saint Purandara Dasa, in ragam Khamas. An enchanting piece, where little Krishna complains to his mother Yashodha about his friends. In the next piece “Kanda Naal mudahalai”, Nethra’s expressive eyes and charming facial expressions brought to life the feeling of viraham (longing) of the lovelorn nayaki, who is madly in love with Lord Muruga.

Another masterpiece was the tamil keertanam “Ennalum Ambalathil”, a dance that describes various reasons for which Lord Nataraja performs his cosmic dance in Ponnambalam along with goddess Parvathi. The highlight of this piece was the controlled nritta and beautiful poses highlighting various attributes of Lord Shiva. The performance concluded with a beautiful thillana where each passage began with graceful body movements, giving way to korvais, and culminating in scintillating teermanams.

Nethra was accompanied by an excellent team of musicians who ably complemented her dance. The mellifluous voice of Dr. Pustakam Rama complemented the rich commanding recitation of jatis by Guru Indrani Parthasarathy. Flutist Sri. K. S. Jayaram along with percussionists Sri. Janardhana Rao (mridangam) and Sri. Bhargava Halambi (rhythm pad) further enhanced the program.

Nethra’s performance was a fund raiser for Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, USA  which is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization, which provides many noble services to the needy including dispensing free spectacles, performing free surgeries like cataract surgery, glaucoma, corneal and retinal surgeries and conducting camps in remote areas and screening for ophthalmic diseases. It is very humbling to see Nethra supporting and raising funds for a wonderful cause. Overall, it was delight to watch this young dancer on stage and this arangetram has initiated Nethra’s life long quest for knowledge and we wish Nethra a very successful dance journey.

Dr. Surabi Veeraraghavan was the emcee for the arangetram. She is a senior disciple of Smt. Padmini Chari and has given many solo and group dance performances. Apart from dancing, she is also a faculty in the department of Molecular Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.