Enticing shows on the classical scene

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Lovers of classical music and dance enjoyed superior performances from various artists, reports CHITRA SUDARSHAN

Roshini Balasubramanian

Roshini Balasubramanian was the 117th arangetram graduate of the Bharatalaya Academy of Chandrabanu, and the 4th to do her Odissi Manch Pravesh from the Academy.

Roshini’s repertoire had quite a few dances dedicated to the Goddesses: Saraswati Vandana in Raga Goonkari;  a dance dedicated to Devi, based on Adi Shankaracharya’s stotra Mahishasura Mardini; and the final item, Moksha Nata and Sarva Mangala, was a homage to Devi again, taken from the Devi Mahatmyam. Roshini was a confident dancer and her debut recital felt more like a professional concert!  Her tribangas – very characteristic of Odissi – were perfect, and so was her footwork and rhythm.

Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi is de rigour in any Odissi performance, and the sensual-erotic Dhira Samire was the one selected for the evening. This was followed by yet another sensual dance on the same theme of Radha and Krishna, but this time it was rendered to a composition by the Oriya poet, Mangala Prasad Pradhan. The Pallavi, the central item in an Odissi dance recital was well presented, and Roshini’s tribangas, choukas and footwork were a delight to watch.

Ambika Docherty and Chandrababu did the Bols and Manjira, and Ambika, as always, did a superb job with the costumes and stage management.  Vocalist Krushna Chandra Roy – a multi-talented artiste, played the harmonium and sang in a melodious voice, with some of the music composed by himself.  He is an acclaimed AIR and television artiste and has spent several years researching Odissi music and dance. Roy has performed in the past for the Bharatam Dance Company, and now lives in Melbourne.  On the Pakhawaj was Dibakar Parida, on the sitar – Jeeban Prakash Das, Soumya Ranjan Joshi was on the flute and Agnimitra Behara was on the violin.

Professor C V Chandrasekhar

The third Tamil Mummurthigal Festival was held at the Rowville Secondary College on March 11 and 12, the Labour Day long weekend. The first day began with an aradhana – a congregational rendering of some of the kritis (or compositions) of three great Tamil composers of the Middle Ages who have left their indelible imprint on Carnatic music. This was followed by Bharatanatyam dance presentations by various dance schools in Melbourne, as well as a kuchipudi recital by Aruna Iyengar of Sydney.

Kashyap Mahesh’s vocal carnatic concert in the evening was a refreshing and lively one as he sang Purvikalyani, Jonpuri and varali; he is a child prodigy who cut a swathe in the music field when quite young, and he is still not fully out of his teens yet!

The day’s grand finale was the much-awaited dance recital by Padmasri Professor C V Chandrasekhar from India.  This doyen of Kalakshetra performed at 77, a complete ‘margam’ (traditional repertoire) including a marathon 50 minute varnam – which was a masterpiece.  The Anandabhairavi composition, “Enna intha velayil” by the Tanjore Quartet was rendered with all the sancharis, teermanams and the works.  The Arunachala Kavi composition “Eppadi thunindado?” – where Sita, in her anguish, asks Rama, who is about to leave for exile in the forest, how he has the heart to leave her behind.  CVC, surely a living treasure of Kalakshetra, rendered it with all the emotion called for in this padam, with the right balance of sadness, indignation and angst: no exaggerated histrionics or wringing of hands.  Hopefully Melbourne’s young dancers would have taken something away from this performance.  This was followed by another padam in thodi, and a tillana.  Ahilan provided excellent support on vocals, and Jaya Chandrasekar on the nattuvangam, Suresh Babu on the violin and Yogan Kandasamy on the mrudangam were at their usual best.

The surprise of the evening was a padam by Smt Shanthy Rajendran, who donned the ‘salangai’ (ankle bells) for the first time in many years, and performed a padam in Bhairavi dedicated to Thyagaraja– as a tribute to the 75th year of the founding of Kalakshetra.

Day two ended in a grand vocal concert by the eminent Carnatic vocalist Nithyashree Mahadevan.

Omkara Dance Festival

The Omkara Dance Festival on March 25 was a fundraising event on behalf of the Vakrathunda Vinayakar temple in The Basin.  Senior students of the Nrithakshetra dance school put on a professional show at the George Wood Performing Arts Centre in Ringwood.

The beautifully choreographed items of the school’s director Smt Shanthy Rajendran were rendered flawlessly by the dancers, and the whole evening was a treat for the eyes.  The first half consisted of several Kautuvams, quite fast paced and energetic items, in praise of various deities.  The ‘Hanuman kautuvam’ and the ‘Sarpa kautuvams’ are worthy of special mention for not only were they wonderfully choreographed, they are relatively new items to be performed in Melbourne.  The keertana on Shiva was the popular Om Shambho in Revathy, and the hall vibrated with the rhythm and movement of the dancers.  This was followed by the popular devotional composition of Rajani, “Kurai Ondrum Illai” – not easily translated into dance, but under their guru’s tutelage, the dancers did a great rendering.

The speciality of the show was the live youth orchestra made up of Melbourne’s own budding artistes:  Nattuvangam was by some of the post arangetram students of Nrithakshetra, who acquitted themselves very well.  Nanthesh Sivaraja on the mrudangam played the percussion like a veteran; Arjunan Puveendran sang competently and Bhairavi Raman on the violin deftly supported the vocalist.

The Laya Vidhya Centre has received assistance from the Australia Council, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body, to conduct a series of concerts in Indian classical Carnatic music and dance in 2012.

The Laya Vidhya Centre fosters and promotes Carnatic music in Australia and was founded with a view to imparting the knowledge of Carnatic music – especially percussion and flute, to the younger generation here.  Founder and Artistic Director Sridhar Chari is a renowned percussionist, and has become a virtuoso flautist in recent years.  The Centre’s vision is twofold, to nurture and help grow this beautiful art form in Australia to help spread this art form in a wider Australian context by trying innovative ways of reaching the mainstream audience.

With this in view, LVC is presenting a 12-concert series for 2012-2013 to be held on the last Friday of every month at 8pm at the Wellington Secondary College, Police Road, Mulgrave.  It will feature a mix of youthful and seasoned performers; instrumental and vocal music; musicians from around Australia; lecture-demonstrations by maestros visiting Melbourne (Sri Balamurali Krishna and Dr Umayalpuram K Sivaraman) and two classical dance performances.

The LVC website: www.inconcertmusic.com.au/layavidhya has further details.

Chitra Sudarshan

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