@Afak Khan ‘Sameer’ | Correspondent
New Delhi: “ABHYAAS”, an evening of Dance Choreographies in Bharatanatyam performed by 32 students, who have been under tutelage of renowned dancer Geeta Chandran for more than last 5 years was organised by Natya Vriksha at Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi. The performance was supported by Navaratna NMDC.
The learning of any classical dance form is a long and arduous process; it often takes ten years or more before a student gains enough knowledge to enter the arena of performances. This is a long gestation period. I feel that during their period of study we must provide students small opportunities so that they can experience the stress and glory of performing on stage. After all, dance is a performing art, and students must experience first-hand the joys and trials of a stage performance, says Geeta Chandran.
ABHYAAS 2018, has 32 students who have been under my tutelage for 5 years of more on stage, Chandran said. “We are delighted that the Navaratna NMDC is supporting ABHYAAS 2018 as part of its Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The support is a natural fit as NMDC mines the earth for minerals and at Natya Vriksha I am mining youth to discover gems of dance,” she added.
The students are learning the traditional Bharatanatyam margam (syllabus) which I teach in the Thanjavoor bani of dance that my Gurus taught me. In ABHYAAS, I have given them choreographed movements where the margam is presented as duos, trios and in groups of five, seven and nine. This makes the traditional choreography prismatic and keeps the students on edge, Chandran said.
The 32 performers were; Aarushi Punia, Addea Gupta, Anandita Narayanan, Anvita Jain, Ashutosh Bajpayee, Avantika Shankar, Gayatri Arvind, Jashasmita Sarkar, Kanishtha Dharewa, Kavya Navani, Kritika Dharewa, Mallika Nethra Sreenivasan, Mehak Chawla, Muskaan Nath, Namya Jain, Nandini Menon, Nandita Mehta, Neha Tiwari, Nysa Bahadur, Ridhi Garg, Shikha Gusain, Shivapriya Dayal, Shreeya Nair, Shreya Mehta, Shuchi Pandey, Sia Maheshwari, Stuti Mukherjee, Swarnali Kundu, Tara Padmanabhan, Vasudhaa Shakdher, Vidhi Bansal and Yadavi Shakdher Menon.
The performance included items from the traditional margam of Bharatanatyam including: Pushpanjali, Alarippu, Todai Mangalam, Jatiswaram, Natesha Kavithvam, Varnam, Padams and Tillana. While these are all traditional numbers, what is unique is the choreographic eye with which Geeta Chandran has visualised them.
Chandran’s NATYA VRIKSHA was established in 1991 and she has trained innumerable dancers, several of whom have gone on to become solo dancers of repute. Natya Vriksha enshrines the best philosophies of Indian classical culture. At the institute Dancer Geeta Chandran aims to make youth aware of the immense potential of Bharatanatyam to become a live voyage of learning. Through the dance, she makes them comprehend the complex inter-linkages between the classical dance tradition and its strict grammar with other disciplines: Philosophy, Ritual, Religion, Myths, Ancient texts, Poetry, Literature, Art (Painting and Sculpture), Cultural Studies, Yoga, Handicrafts & Handlooms and Beauty & Aesthetics.
Natya Vriksha’s vision statement seeks to probe the continuing relevance of classical tradition in a world of changing values. It showcases the aesthetics of Bharatanatyam and its history, how the tenets of the dance can be employed as a means of communicating issues of contemporary concern, even while exploring linkages between history and continuity, between external body and internal mind-space, between yesterday and tomorrow, between artist and audience….between roots and wings.