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Bharathiyar in our midst

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A great Tamil icon is remembered in dance

Shanthy Rajendran’s Nrithakshetra School of Bharathanatyam presented a special dance show in early September at the George Wood Performing Arts Centre in Ringwood.
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It was a thematic production based on the poems and songs of the great Tamil poet and writer Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi, who stood like a colossus over twentieth century Tamil literature. Bharathi, now recognised as a National Poet in India, also set several of his poems to music and even sang the patriotic songs at Congress rallies during the Quit India movement. No Independence Rally in the Madras Presidency was complete without a few patriotic songs from Bharathi. So popular, simple, yet mellifluous were his poems and songs that they began to be sung in every Tamil speaking household. His writings sparked a renaissance in Tamil literature.
Shanthy Rajendran’s production Salangayil Bharathi was an attempt to capture in dance, the rich emotions and language of this twentieth century Tamil icon. His poems and songs spanning several genres such as the purely devotional to patriotic, didactic and romantic were broadly represented in the dances performed that evening, the choreography was rich and evocative.
Senthamizh Nadu – a song extolling the beauty of the Tamil country – was presented in two overlapping styles: the juxtaposition of the swift folk with the measured classical was a master stroke. The dances on Kanna [Krishna] like Teeraada vilayaattu pillai in ragamalika were a delight to watch as young Krishna’s pranks were beautifully depicted by a group of young dancers.
The Tillana in Brindavani Saranga brought up the finale, with a poem from Bharathiyar forming the benedictory verse.
The orchestra was led by Shanthy Rajendran on the nattuvangam, and Ahilan Sivananthan was the vocalist who enlivened the show with his commanding voice. Suresh Babu was on the violin and Melbourne’s two talented young mrudangists Nanthesh Sivarajah and Sai Nivaethan Ravichandhira were also part of the orchestra.

Chitra Sudarshan
Chitra Sudarshan
Chitra Sudarshan is an academic and a public servant.

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