Silambam Houston Dance Company’s Krishna

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By Thara Narasimhan

HOUSTON: Unquestionably this was an incredible maiden production with outstanding dancers. The Silambam Houston Dance Company is a brand-new pre-professional dance company composed of senior students of Silambam Houston, a non-profit dance academy here in Houston. Its Artistic Director and founder Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan has taken meticulous care to showcase spiritualism with added traditional artistic fervor, and adhere to the Thanjavur style of pure Bharatanatyam. Her lineage in dance comes from her training with the Bharatanatyam legend and notable danseuse Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy at the prestigious dance school of Chennai, “Shree Bharatalaya”. The institution is well known for its special Madura Margam dance compositions of Vidwan Madurai N Krishnan and a number of exquisite dance dramas choreographed by Sudharani Raghupathy.

With a musical prayer dedication the first opening dance was taken from Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam – Jaya Jagadeesha Hare – depicting the Dasavataram of Lord Vishnu. Each of the Avatars was presented with dancers swiftly changing their roles at different sections of the stage. Jagadhodharana followed this piece where Yashodha appreciates Krishna’s childhood Leela. This was highlighted by expressions of the poet’s feelings at one part of the stage presented by Lavanya and the anecdotes of Mother Yashoda and son little Krishna by Roshini and Shikha dancing at the other end of the stage concurrently.

Many of the popular episodes were woven into repertoire that included the lifting of the Govardhana Hill and the story of Sudhama that were compositions of Narayana Theertha and Maharaja Swati Thirunal respectively. The dancers with vibrant Jathis ably demonstrated the three elements of Nritta, Nritya and Natya combined.

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The music of Madurai N. Krishnan was incorporated in the Raas. This was presented as the Gopi’s danced along with many Krishna’s around them enjoying His presence and tapped their feet along with him. It also involved quick transitioning of both expression and emotion, that is, Abhinaya and Bhava.

A theme on Krishna can never be complete without a depiction Radha’s love for Krishna. However understood it is the only pure love that can exist in its highest form. Yahi Madhava Yahi Kesava is yet another piece taken from Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi. Radha reprimands Krishna for his acts of betrayal but although His charm prevails, He surrenders unto her as He does to those who love Him deeply. This ends ultimately in the coming together of the two – Radha and Krishna. The performance of Lavanya and Anusha was very graceful and inspiring.

The Thillana depicted various facets of Krishna coming together in a dance of celebration as everyone’s feet tapped to the rejoicing music.

The brilliant dance choreography for Colonial Cousins’ Krishna Nee Begane was a very refreshing ending with a beautiful mix of music and culture and a powerful message for human understanding, respect, love and kindness.

Silambam Houston Dance Company’s premier production was indeed done very professionally, and the artistes presented a beautiful performance of “Krishna” without a question mark.