When Shishyas shone

The disciples of Padma Bhushan Saroja Vaidyanathan performed at the Kamani Auditorium on the 12th of April under the aegis of Ganesha Natyalaya. The entrance to the venue was bedecked with colourful flower rangolis. The whole area was filled with scent from the flowers. On the stage was an idol of Lord Shiva adorned by a rose garland.

Saroja Vaidyanathan (centre)

Saroja Vaidyanathan is a renowned choreographer, guru and exponent of Bharatnatyam. She has been conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan recently in 2013. She herself is the disciple of Guru Kattumannar Muthukumaran Pillai of Thanjavur. She established the Ganesha Natyalaya in 1974. She said that she was very impressed by the hard work and effort put in by her students.

The performance began with an invocation of Siddhi Vinayak or Lord Ganesha. In the final formation, the dancers depicted His flapping ears, the mouse at His feet and His nose like an elephant’s trunk. This was followed by ‘Kirtanam’, in Raga Janranjani, an invocation to the Devi – ‘Paahi Maam Shri Raj Rajeshwari, Kripa Karo Shankari’.  The Devi was depicted as the Goddess who rides on a lion and the vanquisher of the demons – ‘Chanda and Munda’. The dancers showed the fight between the Devi and the demons and eventually her victory. This was followed by a ‘Swaranjali’, and ‘Alarippu’- a nritta or a pure dance piece. Next was a varnam in raga Mallika, adi taalam. The Lord Muruga is the one who carries the sword. The nayika is craving for him, since she has been struck by an arrow from the bow of the Lord Manmatha. Next was a ‘kirtanam’ – ‘Swagatam Krishna, Sharanagatam Krishna, Mathurapuri Sadanam, Mriduvadanam, Madhusudana’. The dancers danced as Krishna and the gopis. He breaks their matkis and steals their makhan and teases them. The gopis make chandan for him and apply it on him. They make him wear ornaments made of flowers and adorn his forehead with kasturi tilakam. The next part was rendered very aesthetically. The dancers enacted the fight wherein Krishna emerges the winner, holding the tail of the serpent Kalideh and dancing on his hood. The piece ended with maharaas between the gopis and Krishna.

Following that was a ‘jatiswaram’ in raga Hemwati and then a tillana, a pure dance piece in raga Hindol in aditalam. Finally, the senior disciples of Saroja performed. The group included Dakshina Vaidyanathan, Saroja’s granddaughter. The piece was a ‘kirtanam’ in raga Hamsanandi in aditalam – ‘Shanker Shri Girinath Prabhu’. It was a description of Lord Shankar as the one who has trinetra, “gale rund mala, bhootan sanga nachat, ghungroo baje dev muni sab gagan viraje, shruti rati raje”. The dancers executed the piece beautifully with some excellent footwork, meticulous abhinaya, choreography and formations. The performance ended with a ‘dhwani’ – ‘Omkar mangal, Om namah Shivay’, where all the dancers walked on the stage. Their colourful costumes looked picture perfect.

Vocals by Smt Satyakrishnaswamy were quite powerful. The accompanying artists were VSK Chakrapani on the violin and Thanjavur R Kesawan on the mridangam. The students’ hard work and dedication showed. Each piece was beautifully choreographed, rehearsed and presented by group formations at the end. The whole performance was a befitting example of the guru’s calibre.