one of the oldest and most popular dance forms of India,
originated in what is now Tamil Nadu. It was earlier performed
as Dasiattam – the dance of the Devadasi –
and nurtured in the temples and courts of southern India.
Later, four brothers Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and
Vadivelu, known as the Tanjore Quartet, codified it as
a performing art in the 19th century. Re-shaping the style
in its current form with Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Sabdham,
Varnam and Tillana, their musical compositions form the
bulk of the repertoire even today. The devadasis and nattuvanars,
the male gurus, were the sole repository of Bharatanatyam
until the early 20th century. During the British rule
the dance fell into disrepute and was banned in the temples.
The revival of the dance during the 1930s by pioneers,
such as E. Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale, set
the tone for Bharatanatyam as we know it today.
The Bharatanatyam duo – Sandhya Kiran and Kiran
Subramanyam – embody harmony as is evident in
their rhythmic footwork, discernible emotion and compelling
stage presence. Excelling in duet dancing, the couple
owes its technical grounding to their guru Smt. Padmini
Ravi, and skill and knowledge of the dance form to their
gurus, the Dhananjayans. Sandhya and Kiran believe the
grammar and vocabulary of Bharatanatyam offers them
a host of challenges to enhance and express creativity.
Even as their dance is underscored by the classical
tenets of the style, spontaneity and energy are more
than evident in their work. Critics, connoisseurs and
lay audience in both India and abroad have applauded
and honoured the duo.
Their institution for dance, Rasika, has made a mark
over the last 15 years as the Kirans nurture and groom
a performing community from among their students called
The RASIKA Dance Ensemble.
The RASIKA Dance Ensemble opens its recital with a Pushpanjali,
a traditional invocatory piece that sets the mood and
momentum for a colourful performance. The Rudra Namavali
– the many names of Rudra (an epithet of Shiva)
– seamlessly dovetails into the second piece,
Shiva Stuti. The ensemble recreates here the magic of
the Lord’s dance, its grandeur, the rolling resonance
of the damaru, the bells tinkling in His feet, the brilliance
of the moon adorning His matted hair and the majestic
beauty of His form. Charged with high energy, the work
draws from a traditional Stuti and is liberally interspersed
with Nritta sequences. The dancers take turns in reliving
the magic at Chidambaram, when the great Lord enthralled
the universe with His cosmic dance.
The next, Madhurashtakam, is a well-loved Sanskrit composition
of Hindu Bhakti philosopher-poet Sripada Vallabhacharya
in praise of the attributes and deeds of Lord Krishna.
He poet says everything about Him, who is the Lord –
adhipati – of sweetness, is elegant and sweet,
dipped in madhu or honey as it were. The recital closes
with a lively Tillana, a lyrical composition of Sri
Madurai N Krishnan. The composition ends with a verse
on Lord Subramanya, son of Lord Shiva and warrior god
of the Hindu pantheon.
Harish, Rasika Kiran, Preethi Prasad, Sushmitha Suresh,
Sahana Bhat and Divya Vinod
Composition: B.R.Sheshadri and Neelakanta Sivan
Choreography: Kiran Subramanyam