Samyukta - a duo bharatnatyam 

‘Samyukta’ - a duo Bharatanatyam performance by two experienced disciples of Padmashree Geeta Chandran, Sharanya Chandran and R. Amritha Sruthi, was held at the IHC in Delhi on 19th November 2014. Samyukta was performed as a tribute to their guru, as part of the ongoing celebrations marking 40 years of the spectacular dancing career of their guru.

Sharanya Chandran

Sharanya is the daughter and disciple of Geeta Chandran. She started training at the young age of 4 under Geeta and Guru K. N. Dakshinamurthi. She is the vice president and senior dancer of the Natya Vriksha Company. She has been empanelled with the ICCR and is nationally graded by Doordarshan. She has performed in India and abroad as a soloist and in group choreographies with the company.

Amritha Sruthi Radhakrishnan

Amritha Sruthi Radhakrishnan is also a senior disciple of Geeta. She has been learning Bharatnatyam for the past 16 years. She has performed extensively with the company. She is actively involved with teaching at Natya Vriksha. She received a scholarship for young artists from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in 2013.

Sharanya, talking about conceptualizing Samyukta, said, “We have been working on Samyukta for the past four months, and it has been gratifying to dedicate it to our guru on the completion of 40 years since her arangetram. We tried to put up a one-hour show with a diverse bouquet of what we have learnt and what we wanted to choreograph. For Samyukta, the music was already there from a piece we did in 2010, and we wanted to revisit it as a duet. It was an attempt to explore movement, keeping the grammar of Bharatnatyam pristine. We explored space, sound, music and movement viz-a-viz the other.” Amritha thought it was a wonderful opportunity to “work with Sharanya di and dedicate the performance to their guru”.

They began the performance with a Shiv stuti, Shankara Jatadhara. The duo depicted the four arm stance of Shiva, the Lord wearing snakes around His body, Ganga flowing from His hair. Then they depicted the five elements -water, wind, fire, earth and ether. The stances were very well synchronized, with leg lifts and cross-legged postures. In the music for this piece, natuvangam was by Guru K.N. Dakshinamurthy, vocals by O.S. Arun, mridangam by Bejjangi Krishna and violin by V.S.K. Charapani.

Next, it was a solo by Amritha to a Meera bhajan in raga maand. The passion of the bhakta to serve the Lord was apparent in her abhinaya. She went on to show the sewa, stringing flowers into a garland and making chandan for the Lord. For this piece, natuvangam was by Guru S. Shanker, vocals by Vasanti Krishna Rao, mridangam by Thanjavur Keshavan and flute by G. Raghuraman.

The solo by Sharanya was of great literary interest since Vidyapati is an ancient Mythili poet who wrote beautiful poetry. The composition is about Radha, who is waiting for Krishna when Kamdev strikes her with his arrows. She is sitting and stringing flowers when a very petulant Kamadev troubles her. She tells him that striking arrows is a case of mistaken identity, for he should save his arrows for Shiva. She compares herself in Ninda stuti to Shiva – while she adorns herself with sandal paste, he smears himself with ash from his yagyas. She wears a beautiful saree and he wears the skin of a lion. She wears a bindi and he scares with his fearsome third eye. She wears flowers in her hair and he carries the river Ganga and the moon in his matted locks. She wears her gold ornaments and he wraps snakes around his neck. Her hair is plaited into a veni and his are matted into jatas. She tells Kamadev that she is Bama, not Baam. Sharanya’s abhinaya for the piece was precisely executed and expressive. Selection of music and choreography for this piece was by Smt Jamuna Krishnan, natuvangam by Geeta Chandran, vocals by Sudha Raghuraman, mridangam by Lalgudi Sri Ganesh and flute by G. Raghuraman.

The high point of the performance was the title piece, Samyukta, performed them as a duo. Samyukta literally means a union. It was the synchronization between two bodies which looked similar. Amritha and Sharanya are the same height, the same body type and used the same body language for this piece. The current times see a lot of rivalry, jealousy and competition between people. So to see two people in perfect harmony, giving each other space and moving in symmetry, was a pleasure. It was an abstract piece adhering strictly to the grammar of Bharatanatyam. The music score was interplay of beats, silences, slow alap leading to crescendo and then again coming back to silences. It had various instruments like gongs, ghunghroos and morchang. The music for this piece was composed by Geeta Chandran in collaboration with Sudha Raghuraman and G. Raghuraman, vocals by Sudha Raghuraman and mridangam by K. Shivakumar. The costumes by Sandhya Raman were very aesthetically done.

Finally, the performance ended in a devi stuti – Omkara Karini – a composition by Dr M. Balamuralikrishna in raga lavangi, adi talam, sung by O.S. Arun, natuvangam by K.N. Dakshinamurthy, mridangam by Bejjangi Krishna and violin by V.S.K. Charapani. The lyrics describe the Goddess as the mother or sister, who is benign and blesses all, and also as the vanquisher of demons who threaten mankind. The stances, the synchrony, the abhinaya were all perfect. They did their Guru really proud.

The disciples with their Guru Geeta Chandran

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