Laasya School of Dance presents dazzling “Samarpanam” recital
(Left) Sridevi Ranjit and Ranjit Gangadharan of Laasya School of Dance. (Photo: John Gladson)
Laasya School of Dance’s first annual dance recital, “Samarpanam 2018” was held at North Gwinnett High School on Saturday, March 10, 2018. The artistic show presented by Founder/Director and choreographer Sridevi Ranjit had a breathtaking kaleidoscope of 20 imaginatively choreographed, scintillating dances of prayer songs, folk songs, devotional songs, slokas, keerthanams, semiclassical dances, fusion, and Bharatanatyam dances performed by 70 well-trained students ranging in age from 4 to 16 years. The dancers’ spirited performances, and the depth and range of ragas and fusion of instrumental music created an esoteric fusion of East and West!
Sridevi Ranjit, founder of Laasya School of Dance. (Photo: John Gladson)
Ranjit Gangadharan warmly welcomed all. He and his wife Sridevi, he said, spent almost a decade across Europe and the Middle East, where, due to job-related movement every few years, Sridevi could not start a dance academy. It was only when the family moved to Atlanta in 2012 that Sridevi found stability to set the foundations for her school. She has since performed in over 35 dance concerts across the USA. Laasya School of Dance was launched in 2015. Sridevi’s passion for dancing has helped her realize one of her dreams: presenting “Samarpanam.”
Sridevi then explained that samarpanam means offering or dedication. “My samarpanam is to Lord Shiva, the God of Dance, to give me an opportunity to acquire dancing talent and to perform all over the world. It is also an offering to all my teachers who painstakingly taught me every mudra, every step, and every gesture. But most important, it is my offering to my loving parents who toiled for many, many years to help me learn Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, and semiclassical dances. “Samarpanam” is also a dedication from my students to the cause, to loving parents, to me, and to the audience,” she said.
Diya Lighting: Sridevi, Sreekanth Uppala, Kannan Udayarajan, Mahadev Desai, and Ranjit.
Diya Lighting: Sreekanth Uppala, Mahadev Desai, Sridevi, and Ranjit. (Photos: John Gladson)
Ranjit invited Smt. Leera Rawal, who teaches Kathak dance in her Era Leera School of Kathak Dancing in Atlanta; veteran freelance journalist in Atlanta, Mahadev Desai; President of Indian Friends of Atlanta (IFA) Sreekanth Uppalla; and COO of global nonprofit Vibha, Kannan Udayarajan, on stage to join in lighting the diya.
(Left) Alaap Murali singing a prayer alongside Ranjit Gangadharan, Sreekanth Uppalla, Kannan Udayarajan, Sridevi Ranjit, Leera Rawal, and Mahadev Desai. (Photo: John Gladson)
The show was emceed confidently by Georgia Tech students Alaap Murali and Poornima Natarajan. All stood as Alaap Murali began the program with a prayer song. Cheerful applause greeted the opening groups of dancers who performed an uplifting traditional invocatory prayer dance to Lord Ganesha, Goddess Saraswati, and Guru, followed with Shiva Stuthi, and Pushpanjali.
In the riveting dance to a folk song from Kerala, performers depicted a village harvest scene. With sickles in hands, they were shown joyfully harvesting the crop. They moved in circles, holding hands, swaying their hips, and executing fast paced dance formations to lilting music.
This was followed with Devi Stuthi, a dance to a keerthanam in praise of mother Goddess Parvathi. Little angels of the Academy boldly performed a dance to a collection of slokas to the Gods.
(Photo: John Gladson)
In a spellbinding semiclassical dance to a hit Tamil movie song “Kannamoochi Yenada,” Radha was shown in Vrindavan garden singing to entice her lover Lord Krishna. The program had three outstanding solo dances by senior students Meryl Roy (Ganesha stuthi), Parvati Menon (Shiva nadanam), and Rachita Iyer (keerthanam about Goddess Durga). They enraptured the audience with their nuanced dances, emoting with finesse and grace. After Meryl’s solo dance, the audience was treated to alarippu and Ganesha pushpanjali dances. The dance to a beautiful Malayalam devotional song in prayer to Lord Vishnu, “Chethi Mandaram Tulasi,” was spiritually elevating. So was mallari, a dance systematized by Ramaswami Dikshitar. After another enchanting dance to a keerthanam about Lord Krishna, “Madhura Madhura Venu Geetham,” there was a brief interval of 15 minutes for refreshments.
An engrossing varnam dance with raga Thodi Talam by adi music composer Muthuswami Dikshitar then regaled the audience. In lighter mood was a semiclassical dance “Mukunda Mukunda” to a Tamil version of a devotional song from the movie Dasavathaaram. An intense and graceful dance was mesmerizing, set to the hit Malayalam song “Sivakara damaruka,” composed by the music legend Illaiyaraaja and made timeless by the National Award-winning Malayalam movie Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal.
(Left) Gopal Nair of Access Life America being recognized by Ranjit. (Photo: John Gladson)
Ranjit invited Gopal Nair, Founder and President of Access Life America on stage. ALA is a nonprofit helping fund Access Life Assistance Foundation (ALAF) in Mumbai, catering to the huge need of providing a safe and clean temporary home for children and their families who travel from remote towns and villages for cancer treatment. ALAF also provides them with practical support services, educational resources, and recreational programs. Ranjit, a Director and volunteer of ALA, declared that the proceeds from the recital were being contributed to the nonprofit, as Sridevi presented a check to Gopal Nair on behalf of the students, parents, and Ranjit/Sridevi’s family.
All participating students came on stage in small groups for the finale, dancing with precision to the throbbing beat of the music. It was a sight to behold, and elicited well-deserved loud applause from the enthusiastic audience.
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Thanks: Ranjit thanked all the sponsors: Anil Reddy from MSD Productions; Mr. Ganesan from EdGuru Academy; Senthil Kumar from XL Academy; Dolly from Keen Academy, Prasad Philipose from Better Home and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers; and Sri Krishna Vilas in Cumming, and the partners of the event: Jogy Jose from Divinity AV, John Gladson for photography; Nirvika’s Boutique; Vijaya Collections; Sreekanth and team from Deccan Spice for delicious food and beverages; and TV Asia for covering the event.
An exuberant Sridevi also thanked all the sponsors, partners, parents, students, volunteers, and the audience. She further thanked Suresh Kumar from Sree Mookambika for dance costumes, and pastor C. V. Andrews, Surendra Guntipalli, and Tan Lee for their generous support, and especially thanked her husband Ranjit and their two children Smaran and Soham for their unstinted loving support.
Ranjit and Sridevi then awarded all the participants with sparkling trophies and certificates.
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