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Mohana Krishna sparkles for Janmashtami

By: Sukanya Rajagopal
October 2010
Mohana Krishna sparkles for Janmashtami “Mohana Krishna,” a Bharatnatyam dance production by a local Indian dance school, Natyanjali Academy of Dance, in Johns Creek, GA, was performed at Ferst Center for the Arts on Saturday, August 28, 2010. The event was a fundraiser for the Atlanta Chapter of Asha for Education, under the leadership of Mr. Senthil Ramamurthy, in support of basic education of underprivileged children in India. The inspiring speech by Georgia State Representative Mr. Mike Glanton, who was leaving for India the next day, set the tone for the evening.

Portrayals of the mischievous little Krishna by Smriti Suresh, a charming adolescent Krishna by Nisha Chandran, the enchanting Goddess Lakshmi by Pallavi Sastry, the evil serpent Kaliya by Malvika Raj and the confused Arjuna by Nandita Rajshekhar brought to mind characters in Prince Ravi Varma’s paintings. Ms. Chandrika Chandran played various key roles such as the divine mother Yasodha, Krishna’s lover Radha and the saint-poetess Andal, whose unwavering love and longing for Krishna is unparalleled. Gopikas were played by Janani Ramchandran, Malini Laxman, Malvika Raj, Nandita Rajshekhar, Pallavi Sastry, Pushpa Sundareswaran, Krishna Mehta, Pragya Banerjee, Trisha Dalpati and Uma Kantheti.

The attami (neck movement) and tattumettu (footwork) was reminiscent of the Guru parampara (tradition) of Ms.Chandran passed on to her by Padmashri Sri Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai and Kalaimamani Swamimalai K.Rajarathinam. The choreographer, Smt. Revathi Ramachandran of Kala Sadhanalaya, Chennai, India, has many awards to her credit, from Yuva Kala Bharathi to Natya Kala Sikhamani. The audience felt her presence, 12,000 miles away here in the USA, by the quality of her music, her finesse in wielding the cymbals and her crisp jathi utterances.

“Choreography has the challenging task of interpreting ritualistic texts written thousands of years ago, capturing their essence and then presenting them in a format suited for today’s audience,” said Chandrika Chandran. “Indian art forms are the best gateway to Indian culture. These dancers have made an active commitment to integrate this culture into their otherwise American lives,” she added.

The hours spent on stage design and the expertise in lighting by Dr. Raktim Sen and able backstage coordination by Ms. Kanaka Sathasivan and others were evident. Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Kumar Kantheti, narrated the scenes and kept the audience informed of what was to come. The grand finale of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi on the custom-designed serpent bed with the devotees around them transported one on a magic carpet back to Srirangam, India.

Dr. Seshu Sarma, an ardent supporter of Indian arts and culture who was recently recognized as one of the 25 most influential Asian Americans in Georgia, summed up the mood of the audience as “spellbound and speechless” that such an impact is possible to achieve by a group of 14 locally groomed amateur artists, ranging in age from only 10 years to 22 years. “Mohana Krishna” was a fitting tribute to mark the birth of Krishna, celebrated as Janmashtami around the world in early September.

“The production was a lot of work,” said dancer Pallavi Sastry, a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “but it is all worth it when you get a standing ovation and it makes you realize how proud you are of being able to share a piece of your culture with the community.”

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