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Children Stay In Step At Bharat Natyam Recital

November 2005
Children Stay In Step At Bharat Natyam Recital

It took just 90 minutes for 17 children to prove their dance skills. And there were plenty to watch as the recital progressed. On October 16, each one of the 120 seats at the Towne Lake Arts Center in Woodstock, Ga., was taken during the Bharat Natyam recital by students of Tandav Themes Dance Academy, a first for the dance school.

The dancers ? some as young as three years ? lived up to the expectations of their guru, Rifka Mayani. Her eyes followed them closely as she took her place on the stage along with the sole music accompaniment, Dhruv, an 11-year-old playing the violin. It was a show of talent by children in the real sense ? the oldest dancer was 13 years old.

The dancers moved to the vocal counts and claps of Mayani, who began training at the age of six under the tutelage of her Mumbai-based guru Kalyan Sundaram Pillai. Since her arangetram (maiden solo performance) in 1990, Mayani has mesmerized audiences in India and the U.S. with her art. The event at Woodstock was important for Mayani in two ways. Not only was it the first performance by the academy's students, 2005 marks the diamond jubilee year of the Raja Rajeshwari Bharata Natyam Kala Mandir in Mumbai, where Mayani learnt dance.

The event began with a pushpanjali, a salutation invoking the blessings of God, guru, the musicians, the audience and Mother Earth (the stage). The students performing the salutation were Victoria Asgar, Varsha Padmanabhan, Meela Patel, Krithika Karunakaran, Sharanya Madhavan, Anirudh Udutha, Hansinee Mayani, Urvi Shinde, Esha Shinde, Leen Padia, Amy Padia, Trisha Ramakrishnan, Vanya Padmanabhan, Rima Gandhi, Hema Patel, Shimoni Shah and Mohini Chakravorty

It was then time for adavus, or basic steps of the dance, followed by six other sequential items, including hastas (around 28 gestures using the hand). These hastas were performed very clearly even by the youngest dancer of the troupe. The alaripu (budding flower) preceded the grand finale, mangalam. As part of this section of the recital, the artists thanked and saluted God, guru, musicians, Mother Earth and the audience for making the performance a huge success. The entire troupe from Tandav participated in the finale.

The parents of the children not only encouraged them, but also helped in designing the stage, the brochures, catering the food, and managing behind the scenes as the show progressed.

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