Thursday, April 19, 2012

Valli Bharatam - Thematic Dance Production at San Diego and Cleveland

VALLI BHARATAM - a thematic dance production presented at San Diego on 28th March, 2012 and at Cleveland on 14th April, 2012.

This production was choreographed by Kalaimamani Smt.Jayanthi Subramaniam. Lyrics have been composed by 'Kadigai Mooku Pulavar' and the songs in the version that was presented at San Diego and Cleveland have been beautifully tuned by Smt.Suguna Varadachari.

Valli Bharatam has been earlier popularized by the Balasaraswathi school and later also by Smt.Radha.

I had the good fortune of singing for this dance production and it was a pleasant maiden experience for me singing for such a production..

(At San Diego)

(At Cleveland)

What makes it interesting and challenging to sing for a dance-drama is that the singer has to be able to depict the emotions of the dancer effectively through the music. Every moment has to be a perfect synchronization between the singer and the dancer.

For instance, in this production, be it the depiction of the valor of Lord Muruga, or the deep anguish and pining by Valli on Muruga's sudden disappearance, or the expression of ecstasy during the meeting of Muruga and Valli, or the sarcasm in Valli's expression while talking to Muruga in the disguise of an old man, I had to give the right kind of emotions through the songs and immediately switch over from one rasA to the other. A wonderful experience this indeed was !

I was given the script of the songs and the audio by end of February and we had rehearsals for about 3 weeks in March. Also, a few rehearsals at Cleveland before the program on the 14th of April.

(Photo taken during one of the rehearsals at the Comfort Inn Ballroom)

Jayanthi Akka is a perfectionist and it was a pleasure working with her and her students.

Now, about the dancers :

One uniform feature about all the dancers that I really liked was the grace with which each of them performed, be it during the rehearsals or the actual program.

Sumitra, daughter of Smt.Jayanthi Subramaniam played the role of Valli.Scenes done by Valli, especially, during her dialogue with 'the old man', her sarcasm against the 'hunter' were very enjoyable.

(Sumitra as 'Valli', Puja and Divya as Valli's 'sakhis'.)

Ashwini played the role of Narada and also the role of the 'old man' at San Diego. I really enjoyed the part she played as the old man, particularly during the songs 'mA tava viruththarai' and 'aarukkO vanda' :-)

(Ashwini as the old man in one of the rehearsals.)

The role of the old man was very beautifully done by Bragha Akka at Cleveland.

I cannot forget Soundarya's performance, who beautifully played the role of the old man during the rehearsals that we had in Chennai prior to the actual program.

Valli's sakhis, Puja, Saathvika, Sridevi, Divya performed extremely well, particularly during the song, 'bAla pirAyam' and 'vEngai maramAgi ninrArE'.

(Sridevi and Saathvika - Valli's sakhis)

Sherin played the role of little Valli. Harini and Sharanya were the other 'sakhis' of Valli.

Sushmitha Arunkumar - a very graceful, pleasant dancer. Beautifully played the role of Muruga. She and Bhavajan, very gracefully danced for the tiruppugazh that I had tuned in simhendramadhyamam.

(Sushmitha and Bhavajan during one of the rehearsals.)

(Sushmitha as Lord Muruga and Bhavajan as the peacock)

Santhosh - the 'always agile' hunter :-). Some of the songs during which I really enjoyed his performance were 'maane pidiye', 'vEngai maramaagi ninrArE' and 'pArkka pArkka'.

Sri.Srinivasan was on the Veena at Cleveland and Ranjani Ramakrishnan was on the violin both at San Diego and Cleveland. During a song, Ranjani would suddenly give an embellishment to a line and I would take the cue from her and improvise immediately. We mutually enjoyed this kind of an interaction :-). I think this particular photo has nicely captured one such instance:

Sri.T.S.Nandakumar was on the percussion at San Diego and Toronto Gowrishankar was on the Mridangam at Cleveland. Both of them gave wonderful support..
Gayathri Balagurunathan gave the jathis during 'Nambirajan (Valli's father)'s entry'.

Sangeetha Ishwaran gave a wonderful introduction to the whole program and talked about what Valli Bharatam is all about.

Here are a few photos taken after the program at Cleveland:

(Standing from L to R: Jayanthi Akka, Gayathri Balagurunathan, Bragha Akka, myself,Sangeetha Ishwaran and Savithri Aunty)
Sitting from L to R: Ashwini as Narada, Mr.Subramaniam(Jayanthi Akka's husband),Santhosh)

(From L to R: Myself, Sushmitha, Sushmitha's daughter Aditi and Sherin)

In all, a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me working with Smt.Jayanthi Subramaniam and all the wonderful dancers of Valli Bharatam...


Girijaraghavan's Blog said...

it was wonderful seeing this performance at San diego . Enjoyed your company there and looking forward to meet you soon !

nagraj said...

Vashishtar vayaal...

It shows how the Quality of the programme was, how thorughly you enjoyed - this maiden attempt,ambience, audience / people etc... You like to innovate, try out different things.

A special title 'Nava rasa kala rathna' awaits to be conferred upon you

Revanth said...

Such a wonderful post Gayathri Akka!

You covered every detail in such a wonderful manner. It was like you took all of us to the USA and introduced each artiste in person. Such a detailed and beautiful post it is! Each picture is so beautiful. Each moment of the dance drama was described so well and that too with amazing photographs. Makes me happy to see all the smiles! :)

Looks like you had a wonderful time there. Once again thanks for the post. :-)