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Dance like a Goddess

December 2004
Dance like a Goddess

Gajaamukha, a scintillating full length musical temple dance ballet of India, portraying the life of Lord Ganesha brought the flavor of India's traditional classical dances to the theatre-lovers of the City of Atlanta. Performed by Dr. Jayanthi Raman the event was organized by ?Resaca', India Arts and Cultural Council, Portland, Oregon, at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, Georgia State University on Friday, November 5.

A joint effort of the Gandhi Foundation of USA (GFUSA), a sociologically oriented Foundation and Rialto Center, an outreach division of the Georgia State University's performing arts, the ballet was an effort to present the linguistic heritage of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil which were accentuated by translations in English. The dance format incorporated a seamless fusion of Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohini Attam and the folk dances making a presentation of the life story of one of the most revered icons of Hindu religion, Lord Ganesha. This ballet was not only a cultural presentation of dance and music of India but it also displayed the rich diversity of Indian culture to a diverse group of American society and members of the Indian community.

The Acting Chairman of the GFUSA, Subash Razdan speaking on the occasion informed, "This classical dance ballet by Dr. Raman and troupe is a befitting tribute to the respect and veneration that Hindus have for Lord Ganesh." This effort by the GSU to showcase India's rich culture and performing arts was initiated by Ms. Leslie Gordon, Director of the Rialto Performing Arts Center and collaboration of GFUSA's representatives, Subhash Razdan, Dr. Sujatha Reddy, Giriraj Rao, Antony Thaliath, Mustafa Ajmeri, Dr. Thrivikraman, HV Shivadass and Jacob Ampat.

The patrons, the season ticket holders and the general public who attended experienced the thrill of a presentation that has been ?foreign' to them and applauded the presentation. The publicity manager of Rialto Performing Arts Center, Kara Keane told the audience that she had grown up in India and had always been fascinated with Indian classical dances. Commending the ballet she said, Gajamukha is an artistic delight, described by a Washington reviewer as a, "dazzling experience of adorable design for a global audience."

The credit for this outstanding performance goes to Dr. Jayanthi Raman, a world renowned art director, choreographer, principal dancer and her troupe of talented dancers and musicians who thrilled the audience with their performances. Those in the audience, who had never before experienced the sweet sound of Veena or the percussion instruments mridangam and chendai, were highly appreciative of the ballet's delightful artistry.

The passion of Dr. Raman in presenting ?Gajamukha' was evident in all aspects of the theatrical attributes- grace, spirituality and sensuality, vibrant colors, shimmering costumes, stunning backdrops, soulful music and the choice of episodes that controlled the dance patterns. The `Ganesha worship' (abhiskekam), practiced in the inner sanctum of the South Indian Temples was a great eye opener for those who are not familiar with this method of worship.

While the performances of Nandi and the mouse were captivating, the heart of the ballet is without doubt Dr. Raman who as Goddess Parvathi excels in all the scenes. Jayanthi's stellar dancing career spans over 25 years. "The minute her jingling ankle bells and stamping feet ring out and her silk-clad body, sinuous arms and dramatically mobile face appear, the audience knows it's going to see a world-class dancer?"comments Martha West in `The Oregonian'.

The event concluded with the presentation of a beautifully crafted and scripted plaque to Dr Raman by Subhash Razdan. Other artists, mostly from Tamil Nadu too were awarded with Certificates of recognition and appreciation.������

- Mahadev Desai


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