Monday, May 15, 2017

Dance, Music and Fridays

Life in New York has always been fun but there remains a yearning to witness a performance of Indian Art Form , every now and then! And also, speaking in our mother tongue and hearing it being spoken - ah, that feeling is so divine that no one can afford to miss!  There are lot of 'societies' and 'communities' which conduct Indian Arts and it is prudent to have the list of them so as to not miss a chance of being close to homeland.

Fridays are always , day to look forward to for it marks the beginning of celebrations and fundays - the weekend, obviously! After a long week - that definitely had not more than five days, we keep expecting the Friday Evenings. On one such Friday, (12th of May to be precise), seeing the 'face book events near me' I walked in to the Pearl studios to witness a "Mehfil" performance by "Aalokam" dance artists. The evening was also to feature The Madras Pianist -  Anil Srinivasan and The Delhi Dancer -  Ms. Abhinaya Penneswaran along with Aalokam dance company artists Varsha Radhakrishnan, Smruthi Suryaprakash and Vasudha Sharma. The choreography was done by Bharathi Penneswaran and Jyotsna KalyanSundar with Vignesh Ravichandran supporting them on the vocals.

(A collage of groupfies, selfies and performances)

To say a bit about these artists, Anil is known for his creativity in mix matching the unmatchable Indian Classical music with the unmistakable Western influences. His creations are so intrinsically twined with subtle structures and is soothing to the listen.  No wonder, he won "Pride of Tamilnadu" award earlier this year.

Abinaya, a young and energetic dancer trained in contemporary dance, jazz, ballet and  the classical Bharatanatyam, she took up dancing in 2010 at the age of 20, and has been training, teaching and performing ever since. She is a member of the Company and Faculty at Big Dance Centre and is also the Head of Department of Professional Dance Study Program at the institute.

Bharathi Penneswaran is a full time dancer, Jyotsna Kalyanasundar  - a dancer and Organizational Psychologist, Vignesh Ravichandran - singer and cancer research data specialist, Varsha Radhakrishnan - dancer and Public policy management, Smruthi Suryaprakash - a Ph D student in biomedical engineering and a dancer, and Vasudha Sharma - dancer and Lawyer.

The much awaited performances began with Pushpanjali - a classical piece in Bharathanatyam, invocating the Almighty  with Vignesh singing a few jathiswarams and Anil mesmerising on the keys. Audience who were expecting to see dancers in their traditional sarees or Baratham costumes adorned with temple jewellery were in for a  disappointment. All the performers  stunned the audience with their mordern yet ethnic kurtis and pants, simple yet elegant jumkas and natural looks. The back drop, as  the word Mehfil denotes  was an intimate set up yet pleasing to the eyes of the audience.

Following the Pushpanjali,  Anil Srinivasan  had the stage. He performed few songs of the Indian Music Director - "Isaignani" Illayaraja and Mastero A.R.Rahman. His performance showed how Piano could be versatile for Indian Classical, Semi - Classical and Western music, giving a new spin to those favorite songs of almost all Tamil people. For the western eyes, a performance is supposed to be a calm and quite one. However, for people like  Mr. Anil, responses from audience, in any form -  like singing along, clapping to the rhythm is always welcomed. After a brief talk to break the ice, when his fingers began to move effortlessly  on the keys of the piano, the audience were spell bound and stupified

The Madras Pianist - Anil Srinivasan
Abinaya's Solo performance was filled with so much energy and radiance, that the audience were in awe, seeing the young girl's co - ordination of her hands, legs and body movements and synchronizing them all with the music on the tape. Oh! watching this girl was pure bliss. It was sheer grace and no sooner did she start with slow arcs of the arms and torso than you felt the subordination of the dancer to larger principles.

Abinaya and Bharathi - Duet performance
Varsha, Smruthi and Vasuda's "Alarippu" and "Thillana" group performance looked remarkable. The whole dance performance was a study of contrast, I should say - looking down or up, moving in and out, bending left or right and coordination, every body part seemed to come into play in different combinations. one can witness the ladies' spontaneity.


yothsna's Solo Performance describing the romance of Radha with Krishna was ably supported by Vignesh's vocal "Hey Ra Radha!" The lady's performance - the length, the rhythmic complexity and intricate physical co - ordination, the expressions changing in a split second, proved to be amazing.
Bharathi's traditional performance on "Aanandha Nadanam" performed to taped music was so perfect that one could spot no flaws. Her steps, finite stretching of limbs and legs, the rapid eye movements, the body gesture beaming forward into the space, everything in transcendence. Her embellishment in some elaborate rhythms were note worthy to mention. 
Jyotsna Kalyan Kumar - Hey Ra Radha
The heartthrob of the evening was a duet performed by Bharathi and Abinaya - Bharathi performing Bharatham and Abinaya contemporary style, for an "English" song. Yeah, you read it, right. The duo brought in the contrast in one single frame, leaving the audience spell bound for about a couple of minutes. The duo never paused over those two minutes, passed through several accelerations, several swift movements covering the whole stage with a very remarked dynamics. 

The final performance of Thilana
The whole evening was aimed in appreciating the fusion of traditional and contemporary styles was a gala success. As audiences, we might see the efforts taken by all of them to make it happen, however there was traces of evolution seen - evolving from traditional purity to the contemporary richness. Hopes are that with the supports and criticisms from the audiences, these art forms would definitely evolve to take a better shape and stage.