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Bharatanatyam lecture demonstration by Prof. C.V. Chandrashekar

November 2013
Bharatanatyam lecture demonstration by Prof. C.V. Chandrashekar

(Photos: Tanaya Joshi)

On Friday, August 9, 2013, classical dance lovers of Atlanta had the good fortune to attend a lecture demonstration on Bharatanatyam by a doyen of this art form who has dominated the field for over five decades. Professor C.V. Chandrashekar, the maestro who delivered this lec-dem, is a virtuoso in many fields, whether it be dancing, choreographing, composing, researching, or instructing neophytes in the nuances and subtleties of the beautiful art form that is Bharatanatyam. Accompanied by his wife Jaya Chandrashekar (who is an extraordinarily talented vocalist and classical dancer herself) he elucidated every aspect of the terpsichorean experience of Bharatanatyam, from pure nritta to the intricacies of nayana alarippu. This event (organized by the Nrityasankalpa Dance Academy of Atlanta) was an amazing learning experience for the audience, which consisted of young disciples of Bharatanatyam, uninitiated enthusiasts, and full-fledged rasikas in equal proportion.

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The lecture started with a demonstration of a Tulsidas bhajan, “Gayiye ganpati jagvandana,” a piece that accurately reflected Chandrashekar Sir’s métier as an experimenter and innovator. He had set this bhajan (traditionally sung in either rag Marwa or rag Bhopali) to rag Kalavathi, and transplanted it into the formalistic framework of Bharatanatyam, on the occasion of Saint Tulsidas’s 400th birth anniversary. This was followed by an interesting exposition on the significance of bhava and tala in dance; bhava in the interpretation of sahityam (lyrics) and tala in the rhythmic and abstract footwork that constitutes the nritta component of Bharatanatyam. Chandrashekar Sir selected one specific phrase from a composition portraying an adult calling a child and demonstrated how, using appropriate gestures, posture, and expression (bhava) this one phrase could be used to interpret the adult as a mother (soft and loving) or father (strong and proud). Of greater interest was his exposition on the influence of mathematical sequences within rhythmic structure of tala; he demonstrated how different beat patterns within the same tala (dictated by different jatis) can engender different patterns of foot work on the part of the dancer, and how an experienced dancer can traverse this rhythmic path in different ways and yet, in the final avartana (repetition) of the tala, end up with the same foot work.

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Another edifying demonstration by Chandrashekar Sir was the rendering of the ashtapadi Nindati Chandana” in raga Dwijavanti. This piece underscored the evolving nature of the content of Bharatanatyam, emphasizing the fact that more and more Bharatanatyam repertoires now include these romantic compositions of Sri Jayadeva. A successful ashtapadi performance requires utmost dedication to Bhavabhinaya, as was demonstrated by Chandrashekar Sir in his rendition. But no other item in the lecture demonstration illustrated the beauty and marvel of this form of angika abhinaya as the nayana alarippu performed at the end of the lecture. Nayana alarippu is alarippu (loosely, a ‘blossoming’) performed solely by eyes. The audience was awe-struck at the masterly treatment of the eye movements and the total control of facial muscles that was evidenced as Chandrashekar Sir followed every syllable of the sollukattu with his eyes.

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All in all, the lecture demonstration brought an unforgettable (and unprecedented) opportunity to the Bharatanatyam lovers of Atlanta to learn some of the more intricate and esoteric nuances of this dance form from one of its foremost exponents. While Prof. Chandrashekar’s apposite focus on expounding the lesser known technical aspects of the dance appealed to the viewer’s academic aspirations, the performance itself, which transcended both time and space, pampered their artistic senses. Savitha Viswanathan and the Nrityasankalpa Dance Academy arranged this memorable and enlightening evening for the dance aficionados of Atlanta at the Ivy League Academy, Cumming, GA.

Website Bonus Feature

Some videos of C.V. Chandrasekhar, both dancing and speaking about dance:
Bharatanatyam - Legend C.V.Chandrasekhar
by GeethanjaliVideos9 months ago902 views
7th Astapathi - Maamiyam Calitha Vilokya Vriitam Lyrics and Meaning mamiyam chalita vilokya vriitam vadhunichayena ...
http://youtu.be/fV4W77JPP6g

Natyanjali 2012 Chidambaram - Dance by C.V.Chandrasekar - Shiva Ashtapati 20.2.2012
by vasanthamadhu1 year ago2,546 views
Annual Natyanjali Festival Chidambaram starts on Shivrathri Day. Shiva Ashtapati, the Bharathanatya performance was given by ...
http://youtu.be/xW8tFT-Kjz0

Bharatanatyam Legend - C.V.Chandrasekhar
by GeethanjaliVideos2 years ago9,746 views
C. V. Chandrasekhar is one of India's senior most Bharatanatyam dancers, academician, dance scholar, composer, and ...

C.V. Chandrasekhar and Dance
by Ananya Ashok1 year ago310 views
Legendary dancer, C.V. Chandrasekhar sits with us to talk about art and experiencing it.
http://youtu.be/aJ4H-ONJJio

Bharatanatyam Invocatory Items Demonstration & Recital of Pushpanjali, Alarippu
by kalakriya2 years ago1,944 views
This product unfolds the aesthetics and applications of invocatory items in Bharatanatyam, an ageless dance form of India known ...
http://youtu.be/2KHI1R58ZCM


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