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Ragam, Bhavam, and Thaalam

July 2005
Ragam, Bhavam, and Thaalam

Narasimha Academy of Arts Showcases Talent at Second Annual Recital

"Vande Matram Ambikam Bhagavathim," one of the prayer songs presented by Carnatic vocal students, was the opening item at the 2nd annual recital of The Narasimha Academy of Arts. The event, held during the Memorial Day weekend at Meadowcreek High School, not only featured a conglomeration of classical dance (Bharathanatyam) and classical music (Carnatic) pieces but also a fusion instrumental item titled "Inspiration," composed by Ashwin Seshadri on the keyboard, with Gokul Parasuram providing the chords on guitar. The director of the academy, Preeti Shah, and Seshadri co-emceed the event.

The two important art forms showcased the goal of the academy, which is to inculcate Indian culture through music and dance with the accompanying theoretical background. The opening dance item, "Gyaanam," featured several young and talented artistes who paid homage to the three deities of knowledge, Saraswathi, Karthikeya and Brahma. Sangita Kumar, Ashwathy Mohanan, Supriya Shridharan and Praveena Vadrevu rendered one of Purandara Dasa's famous keerthanai ? "Gajavadana Beduve" ? with elegance and poise. Set to verbal incantations and a four-count pattern (chatusra nadai), an Allarippu was presented with formations to depict the blooming of a flower. "Mayil Attam" or the "Peacock dance" enthralled the audience with the vibrant costumes displayed by Sanjana Basker, Nalini Birbal, Mayuri Patel, Anushka Sharma, Aditi Thiru and Anurati Thiru.

The next vocal item, "Janani Vaishnavi," was written by Preeti Shah's great grandmother, Sri Andavan Pitchai. Meena Balasubramaniam, Meghna Mahadevan, Priyanka Natrajan, Madhumati Rao and Archith Seshadri sang this beautiful composition on Goddess Vaishnavi, the protector of the universe. This was followed by an Ashtapathi and varnam set to Panthuvarali raagam.

Lasyanga and Tandavam, the two distinct aspects of Bharathanatyam, were presented by the senior students of the academy. The soft, gentle movements portrayed by Goddess Parvathi are "Lasya," with its counterpart depicted by Lord Shiva as the masculine form of the art. Jessica Garro as Parvathy and Supriya Shridharan as Shivan drew a thunderous applause from the audience The phenomenal lighting sequences were by Bhargava Chiluveru, and Preeti Shah was responsible for the intricate choreography.

Ravi Dharanendra and Ashwath Belavadi concluded with the famous "Jagadodharana" for the vocal section. The "Iyappa Charanam" marked the grand finale of the program with all the dancers lined up on stage portraying the journey of Iyappa. The fight sequence between Iyappa and Mahishi mesmerized the audience with the masterful choreography and dramatic stage effects.

The students of the academy, in a touching moment, presented their Guru with flowers, a gesture indicating the close bond that the students share with their teacher. Upcoming projects of the school include a full-fledged Thyagaraja Aradana vocal program and a dance ballet production. For more information on the academy and upcoming events, please visit www.natyam.com. From the florid costumes to the euphonious song selections, the recital put on a unique show of classical dance and music, carving out a niche in Atlanta's social fabric.

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