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Dance > Review
Upanishad Bharatham
20 August, 2014

-Sukanya Kumar 

Come August-September it is time for the annual Bharatanatyam thematic festival, a major event in Chennai’s cultural calendar, hosted by Natyarangam, the dance wing of NaradaGanaSabha (NGS) since 1995.

“Our secretary R Krishnaswami had suggested this theme of Upanishad Bharatham many years ago but considering the profundity of the subject we were a bit hesitant but this year we braced ourselves to handle this theme with the support of informed resource persons and artistes,” saidSujathaVijayaraghavan, committee member in her introductory speech.

Natyarangam brings together dancers, scholars, composers, artists, musicians, poets, writers and Harikatha exponents thus offering a prestigious platform for experimenting and exploring new horizons in Bharatnatyam. 

To set dance steps and sequences to an abstract theme like the Upanishads is a challenging task. The senior dancers who took part presented innovative interpretations, much to the interest of a sizeable audience on each day.

The 18th annual festival was inaugurated on August 4 by PujyasriPremaPandurang who also addressed the audience and honoured the award winners of the year. In her crisp speech she detailed the connect between Upanishads and Bharatham. R Krishnamoorthy, President of NGS welcomed the dignitaries and rasikas and introduced the theme of the festival.

Guru ChitraVisweswaran was bestowed with the award for Bharatanatyam exponent and guru. The other awardees were B Kannan (accompanist for Natyam) VaibhavArekar (senior dancer), ManjulaAmaresh (talentpromotion) and special award of excellence was bestowed on RajkumarBharathi, (music composer for Natyam).

Besides the introduction of the artistes, Dr. SudhaSeshayyan was also introduced everyday by different committee members. “Why introduce the same Sudha?” remarked Dr. SudhaSeshayyan wittingly. “It’s the specialty of Natyarangam, to serve the same dish but bringing out varied flavors through presentations, just like our dancers dealing with the varied interpretations of Upanishad” she added.

A brief talk by resource person Dr.SudhaSeshayyan set the pace for each day’s presentation.

Senior dancers like VaibhavArekar, RojaKannan, Revathi Ramachandran, RadhikaVairavelavan, RaginiChandrashekar and Sheejith Krishna took up various aspects of the theme and derived the essence of the abstract theme in concrete terms.  With the aid of the intellectual inputs provided by the resource person Dr.SudhaSeshayyan, the dancers selected their pieces from the Upanishads and gave the subject an artistic dimension.

Watching the presentations day after day was an uplifting experience for the audience and proved the point that individual paths lead but to the proven ultimate satyam, the Brahmaivasatyam.

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