Arpan of Seattle, brainchild of the ever-innovative, yet traditionally-rooted Dr. Joyce K. Paul-Siamak, presented Kumari Nivedita Potrapragada in her arangetram on a warm late August afternoon. The weather was welcoming, as were the beautifully dressed young girls, sweetly offering traditional manjal and sandalwood paste at the entrance, aromatically enticing us into a world of wonder that Dr. Paul presented artfully.


Nivedita is a very young, yet dazzling budding dance artiste, yet in her youthful dance, was an ancient maturity and a seasoned understanding of the ancestral heroines of the arts which she brought alive in her teacher's masterful new choreographic works. Accompanied by established musicians in an orchestra boasting of performers Jyotishmathi Sheejith Krishna, vocalist; Sheejith Krishna on mridangam; Murali Pavithran on violin; and Joyce herself as nattuvanaar, any dancer could have appeared slightly intimidated. But Nivedita owned her stage brilliantly.

Normally, one would speak of firm nritta, sweet abhinaya, and good synchronization, when speaking of an arangetram. But in the case of Joyce's presentation, one must tip the hat to the expert mastery with which she wove a tale bringing alive the essence of the mysteries of Belur and Halebid in the gorgeously composed Varnam, the heart of this brilliant performance. With new theme-inspired jathis knitted into the texture of an original composition of Dr. Meera Krishna, with lyrics by Nagashree Yagati and Dr. Gayathri Ashok, great research and care was put into the choreography of this divine work of dance.



"Kinkini jhana noopura laya gati, Dhwanikita Narthana Ghunghuroo jhana" began the thrikaalajathi, bringing the audience into the virtual surroundings of sculpturesque walls of the temples in their days of greatness, as the dancer completed her arudhi and entered into abhinaya engaging viewers in the majestic tales of the legendary Shantala Devi.


Reminiscent of Goddess Meenakshi, the abhinaya sanchaaris choreographed delicately by Joyce spoke of a young warrior princess in a Jain family, whose strengths were natural in music, dance, literature and painting, as her skills were developed in the arts of battle and strategy. She grows to marry King Visnuvardhana, becoming the queen of the Hoysala dynasty, winning the heart of a king whose vow to never marry was overcome with the joy she brings him. He, immersed in concern for war widows and the post-battle scars of his kingdom, finds solace in his soulmate.


In Belur, back then known as Velapuri, an architect is commissioned by the King to develop the Sri Chennakeshava temple, yet the architect is depressed in his repeated failures to create the sculpture of Lord Vishnu to his high quality standards. Nivedita was particularly vivid in her portrayal of this episode, where she showed the architect energized each time to make attempts to rectify his sculpture, only to fall into despair and frustration, as he also feels failure in creating proper designs for the outer walls of the temple. Queen Shantala Devi happens to visit during this time, and in pure abandon she begins to dance with joy at the resplendent inner sanctum statue she finds beyond beautiful. Nivedita brought such delight into this episode as Shantala Devi, overwhelmed with love for Lord Vishnu's visage in the sculpture and the rapture dance she explodes into. The architect is awoken from his despair from the music he hears and when he sees the Queen dancing, he is inspired by her dance and quickly sculpts pose after pose from her live dancing, which are immortalized as the madanikas or salabhanjikas in dance poses all over the Belur and Halebid temples.


Following this, the final major episode in this Varnam focused on a pair of Nandi statues, too heavy to transport once they were carved. Lord Bahubali, a Jain god, it is said brought the bulls to life to herd them into town. During this time, Queen Shantala is inspired to perform an endless ritual dance, until she collapses. The entire town comes to a standstill, reminiscent of the Sleeping Beauty legend, until she arises again and comes out of the temple. The charanam deepens the richness of our picture of the Queen, who grows more spiritual until the end, a most unusually choreographed Varnam ending, extremely chilling, as Nivedita as Shantala Devi, literally backbends into her giving up of all her material belongings to merge with the eternal soul at the end of her life.


Dramatically performed by this young artist, the Varnam in Purvikalyani was stunning and inspiring. It is of great merit that a dancer of Joyce's choreographic capability supported the idea of bringing to life the dream of this Varnam, which was a seed of hope from Nivedita's mother, one of the lyricists. Such choreographic works are badly needed in an age where strong women of great art, spirit, affection and courage are lost in the wave of popular portrayals of women as objects. Applause to the entire team that brought this amazing work to life, most wholeheartedly to Joyce.

Intermission was anachronistic following that amazing immersion into an ancient kingdom rooted in the tradition we dancers all have spirit connections to.



The second half of the arangetram also presented the audience with beautiful new dance directions from Joyce. Sri Adi Sankara's Guru Ashtakam was a very mature philosophical work, uninterrupted with the kind of typical distractions of changing ragams and talams that modern choreographers prefer, more focused divinely on the actual lyrical questions raised by this great composition. The importance of the guru in context of family, friends, recognition, wealth, power, body, even one's mind, was clearly and vividly raised in the choreography, lovingly rendered by the shishya in her dance debut of this artistic work. Here, Joyce transcended the traditional arangetram to uplift viewers of the dance, challenging us to wonder about our own intentions and place in the world, and our devotion to teachers who have grown each of us.


A great piece, again one which is an example of what we need to see more of, in our world, overpopulated with obsession over technique, and enslaved by popular opinions on costuming, music and all the distractions. Joyce clearly loves her gurus and it shows in her dance compositions, making each of us dancers miss our gurus as well. Nivedita is deeply blessed to have performed this enormously difficult piece with sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

One could not possibly end a review of a dance program without some discussion of the Thillana. Nivedita's Thillana was also a departure from the traditional mindset, so lovingly choreographed by Joyce with the sanchaari being the Malayalam Hail Mary prayers on Mother Mary, drawing on Joyce's Orthodox Syrian Christian faith. The nritta in this Thillana was beautifully stylized, Nivedita's attention to detail extraordinarily rendered. But when the Hail Mary sanchaari began, the devotion and love in the expression of this prayer was so personal, it drew tears on many faces, as if the Mother was present, blessing the sacred stage. Beautifully choreographed, to this day memorable to viewers, the entire arangetram was enchanting and ethereal.

I am now excited to witness Yavanika, Joyce's upcoming choreographic full-length work, which will be featured at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center in Washington in the first quarter of 2014. It is a pleasure to have moved to such an enlightened community of artists in the Seattle area and to have been acquainted with an artist like Joyce, who plays a role locally, as a beautiful artistic Georgia O'Keefe, driving the passion of local dancers and musicians to newer levels in this locale. Blessings to Nivedita for a wonderful dance journey ahead of her, and looking forward to seeing much more from this young flower.

For more information:
Arpan – www.arpanarts.org   | Joyce – www.joycekpaul.com


By Vidya Shaker
 
 
A typical conversation with Anusri goes something like this: You ask a question. Pause. Then Anusri will think and give a monosyllabic answer with a very Indian shake of her head. Sometimes you might get a wide smile or a chuckle.

So, it was stunning to see her completely transformed on stage yesterday as a dancer who is capable of telling stories vividly and precisely. What an impressive Arangetram (debut performance)!

Anusri began with our traditional Kavuthuwams and a neatly executed Kanda Alarippu. She worked out her jitters in the Ragamalika Jathiswaram. This jathiswaram has an interesting pedigree. The jathiswaram itself (with the swaras and jathis) were written by the Tanjore Quartette, but Maharaja Swathi Tirunal wrote lyrics (sahityams) for it. This displayed her nritta (pure dance) skills nicely and her coverage of the stage was very enjoyable.

Next came Gopal Ven's composition "Sri Rama Raghurama" presented in the form of a Sabdam. In this, Anusri simply owned the stage! The elaboration of the various scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana were so detailed and well done. The rocking of the cradle for and admiration of each of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrugana in turn; the cursing of Ahalya; the Sita Swayamvara; Hanuman going to Lanka, retrieving the Choodamani from Sita and setting Lanka on fire; the final fight between Rama & Ravana, Rama using a special astram to kill Ravana and Ravana's death scene were all very powerful and emotive.

Having sat through the rehearsals of several debutantes, I know that Sudha Aunty shows the dancers how to present many scenes and the students will usually pick one or two. Anusri seems to have remembered how to do every scene, and the Vidyanjali Orchestra joyfully played along with her. Last year, Akshaya Rajkumar also did this song as a sabdam, while both presentations were extremely well done, they were so different! While Akshaya presented many characters, Anusri presented many details in a few characters. Detroit is indeed lucky to have so many good dancers. Hope they keep it up and grow into good performers as well.

The varnam, Roopamu joochi, almost came as an anticlimax to this sabdam.  In this, Anusri was very effective in conveying the anguish of the nayika in being unable to see the Tiruvarur Deity.  I particularly liked her depiction of the many garlands that covered the Deity that prevented her from seeing Him.  The story of the Somaskanda Murthy was also very detailed and rich.  This incorporation of the sthala puranas makes Sudha Aunty's choreography unique and the performance very spiritual.

The post half-time session included two Padams: "Ulagamellaam Kakkum Perumshakti" - Pancha Deiva Tala-Raga-Bhashamalika by Gopal, Govardhanagiridhara - Darbari Kaanada, and the Javali "Apadooruku." The padams were well-executed. The javali was truly special. This javali describes the indignant feelings of a young village girl about whom there is gossip linking her with the village chieftain. She protests that there is nothing going on, she only knows the man as a childhood friend and has only been to his house with her friends, why are these evil gossipers maligning her character? Watching her transform into this character was so exciting!

Her Shiva padam was Gopal's "Ananda Natamidum Raajane." Anusri has performed this several times so the performance was polished. Her Thillana was also composed by Gopal in Kalyanavasantham in Tisram, and demonstrated her stamina and knowledge of talam. The pancha nadai was flawless, and the really LONG kuraippu was also done clearly and with impact as evidenced by the applause.

She ended on a high note with a traditional Kurathi folk song about a fortune teller Sodamayee telling the fortune of Alamelumanga of Thirupathi. Again a very cute and expressively done item.

The performance was enhanced by the live Vidyanjali Orchestra. Sudha Aunty's nattuvangam was fabulous, as always. Vidya and Gopal, the dynamic vocal duo, were great as were the instrumentalists Indresh (mridangam), Prabha Thayalan (veena), Akshaya (violin) and Sreeragam (flute). Mrs. Uma Kher, who is Anusri's music teacher, put in special appearances for the Jatiswaram, Javali, Thillana and Kurathi.  

A note about the grand stage decorations. There were fresh flowers everywhere! Bushes of ferns and gerber daisies at the back of the stage, garlands of mums from the backdrop and more garlands on the altar. It looked really wonderful!

 
 
The HTR dancers won first place representing India in the Turkish-American Society of Michigan's 3rd Annual International Children's Competition at Wayne State University, sponsored by the Niagara Foundation. Bosnia won second place and the USA placed third.

This was a fantastic win for the girls who worked with so much enthusiasm to perform in coordination. The song was the late violin maestro Lalgudi Jatayaman's Mohana Kalyani Thillana. India won First place from among 23 countries that perfomed flawlessly. It was an evening to be remembered!

The dancers were Shivaani Annadurai, Roshini Jayaprakash, Nisha Krishnan, Divya Narayan, Anjana Pisupati, Vandana Purushottaman, Gayathri & Sumanjali Reddy, Charanya Rengarajan, Sharanya Swaminathan, Anusri Yanumula and HTR alum Madhurima Yerra.

Other participating countries were: Germany, Albania, South Korea, Bangladesh — HTR dancers Trena Dutta and Priya Dutta represented Bangladesh in a sweet Bangla number — Turkey, Poland, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Hungary, West Africa-Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Scotland, Japan, Russia, Mexico and China

The judges were: Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski; Mariella Griffor, Michigan's Honorary Consul of Chile; University of Detroit-Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi; Novi City Manager Clay Pearson; Karen Prall, lecturer/director of the Art of Motion Dance Theatre; Rochester College Provost John Barton; musician Alex Terzian; Karen Dichiera, Director of Community Programs for the Detroit Opera House; musician Suzanne Pixley; Jacelyn Assarian, Associate Director of International Programs at Wayne State University. The event was emceed by Detroit Free Press columnist Carol Cain, who also is senior producer and host of the "Michigan Matters" show on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit.

That same weekend at the Papanasam Sivan festival, Nithya Ramamurthy and Charanya Rengarajan won applause for their renditions of the varnams, Swami Naan Undan Adimai and Nee Indha Maayam. 

Congratulations! We share this with your dear parents and thank them all for their patience and efforts to keep you in disciplined shape, regular practice
 
 
Happy World Dance Day students.  We had a wonderful show today.  Here's details of the program and the review.

World Dance Day!

Oak Park Arts and Cultural Commission (OPAACC) Thank you all for attending, spreading the word and attending a wonderful event. Thank you Cristin and Sudha and the Ethnic Advisory Commission for putting together such a wonderful event

The City of Oak Park Ethnic Advisory Commission presented Spring Fling World Dance Day Celebration

yesterday (April 29th) at the Oak Park Recreation Center with the City's Dance groups. 

The African Dance and Drum group from Oak Park Project 21,

Oak Park Star II Dance group doing 3 – 4 dances and

The Praise Dancers

Hindu Temple Rhythms 

World Dance Day, every year on 29 April, established in 1982 and promoted by CID, aims at attracting attention to the art of dance. It is celebrated by millions of dancers around the globe. On that day, dance companies, dance schools, organizations and individuals, professionals as well as amateurs, organize an activity addressing an audience different from their usual one. 

World Dance Day

The City of Oak Park Ethnic Advosory Commission would also like to express their hearfelt thanks and delight to 

The African Dance and Drum group from Oak Park Project 21,

Oak Park Star II Dance group doing 3 – 4 dances and

The Praise Dancers

Hindu Temple Rhythms

for their awesome participation and sharing of their culture through their delightful dances to the program at World Dance Day held at the Oak Park Recreation Center yesterday. Bless you and your teachers. Keep Dancing!

Lively dance performances by the Hindu Temple Rhythms students who danced Bharata Natyam, to music of Ananda Shankar, and colourful Ghoomar dance of Marwar, and guest artists Anagha Huprikar, with her sprightly team of dancers who performed 'Ganesh Vandana' in Kathak & Maharashtra folk rhythms and Devika Rajesh and the graceful ladies from Kalakshetra The Temple of Arts, who performed the Thiruvathira Kali dance from Kerala were all enthusiastically received with loud applause from the large audience gathered there. The program ended with Peace Chants 'Sarveshaam Swasthir Bhavathu' to music of Tina Turner, and a flash mob with the ever popular Bahudaari dance to music of Chitti Babu xonxluded the show.  The presence of Marian McClellan , Mayor of the City of Oak Park among other officials, made it even more official, and added to the dignity and value of the event.  She was profuse in her praise of the dancers and Sudha's enthusiasm to get it all together as a team effort.  Commissioners & members of the Oak Park Arts & Cultural Commission were also present and helped in publicising the programme.  Happy World Dance Day! We salute all dancers who bring the message of peace, joy, love, and people of the unity to the world.

Sudha Aunty and HTR wishes to thank Devika Rajesh, and all her dancers from Kalakshetra The Temple of Arts, Anagha Huprikar and her team of dancers , and our HTR dancers Charanya Rengarajan, Gayathri & Sumanjali Reddy, Shivaani & Shaili, Annadurai, Vandana Purushothaman, Samyuktha Athreya, Roshni Jayaprakash, and Sharanya Swaminathan, Chittra Narayan, Vasanthi Rengarajan, Divya Narayan, and Riya Rojan, for their delightful, exceptional, and outstanding performances in 'The Passage to India through dance' at The World Dance Day Celebrations in the City of Oak Park Recreation Center. Thanks to all the mothers for getting the students prepared for the event and for all your enthusiasm each and every show. To all the Dad's that attended a boig thank you. Thanks Uma Ravishankar for taking me to and fro to the event. Every little bit helps and I am grateful. God bless you all. Now, let's prepare for our upcoming events. (May 17th , May 19th, and My 29th). Happy Dancing!

 
 

                          The Individuality in Dance


There is no being in this world that lives without a form of dance. It can be a stress relief, a way of being creative, or even a sport. Many types of dances exist in this world, and within the five elements of nature. Life dances as the skies move southward and the seasons change. The flames dance within fire. The trees and plants dance with the wind, and the water dances with its waves. Beyond Earth, the planets even dance as they revolve around the Sun, and circle around themselves at constant speed. Every form of life has its particular dance, because the movement and expression of dance is universal, yet unique for everyone and everything.

I, Anusri Yanumula, am another being of this world. Instead of plainly dancing, I study dance, and have studied this art form for the past 9 years. From the first taps of the first group to various items, I now, have a much deeper understanding of Bharatha Natyam.

At a much younger age, when I had first started learning, I only went because my parents wanted me to. I wrote a short poem in elementary school about dance: Dance is my dream. It is beautiful. It can seem with all my heart, I feel saint. I am happy, clappy, and snappy, because my dream has come true. In fact, my dream has come true at last. Unlike some other students, I never complained about dance. At times, I cried, because I was not able to do an adavu, but that was only because my confidence level was low. Over the years, with the many times I have performed on stage, my confidence built. And, whenever I exit the stage with satisfaction of performance, I feel content, accomplished, and ever ready to learn and do more.

Through besides the art form itself, I have learned how to use it when praising the Lord. It is impossible to forget the dance, and I will continue Bharatha Natyam in obeisance to God. My dance role model is Pranamya Suri, an Indian-American college student, who has learned the dance of Kuchipudi. She currently uses her knowledge and understanding of Kuchipudi to fundraise for water availability in rural cities of Andhra Pradesh. There are many people suffering from the lack of basic needs for surviving in this world. I aspire to raise money towards the ones who really need it with my knowledge and understanding of classical dance as well.

Dance brings out the uniqueness in me. I feel different from everyone in this world because I dance Bharatha Natyam, and with elegance. To dance is to breathe. To dance is to escape from all troubles of life. Nevertheless, to dance is to be myself, because I am unique.


By Anusri Yanumula
 
 
You know none of this would have been possible without our Vidyanjali Orchestra, who sat through the whole performance producing melodious music and fabulous rhythms.

"Rachana Kala Ratna" Gopal Venkatraman, composer of "Origins," "Ananda Nadamidum Raajanae," "Tha Dhi Thom Nam,", and the new Mohana Thillana, came a week ahead of time to work on most of these numbers, and gave depth and power of vocal music to the various items.

"Vaineeka Praveena'' Prabha Thayalan came three days before the event to rehearse filled in with melodious Veena music which was important in the Dance dramas.

"Mridanga Ilavarasan" Jeyasingham, who had to keep up with the rhythms for all of the six hours and more came in spite of being under the weather, deftly added the power of percussion and multiple rhythms on his Mridangam.

"Natya Yogi" Vidya Chandra Sekhar, even though sufffering from the pain and discomfort, raised the level of performance by her inimitable connecting stories, and anecdotes, without which the audience wouldn't know what goes on behind the dances.  She came, she sang with feeling and soul, did Nattuvangam, she helped Teja, and the other students (especially last minute comers) to understand the connecting scenes, motivated them to wrap up the new Thillana, and made each person feel important to the presentation.

Akshaya Rajkumar danced, played violin with the orchestra and pitched in so many ways. Krithika Rajkumar joined after winning the First Runner Up in the 2013 Miss India-U.S.A. contest in New Jersey. Fellow artist and grad, Teja Badami, also ably joined the group. Young Sreeragam Sarma added melody with his flute, and Hari Sarma pitched in with a grand represenatation of Lord Brahma in "Origins" before he went back to manage the music system.

Back stage helpers, advertisers and our generous sponsors, Royal Sweets with their catering, The Bharatiya Temple for the venue, and all our fantastic volunteers, we at HTR owe so much to you all for making this a highly successful venture.

Thank You, Thank you, Thank You!! Thank you each and everyone. You are all so blessed.

By Sudha Chandra Sekhar

 
 
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It was my first Tandav as a performer, and boy, does the experience change completely! The last time I danced on stage, I was 11. And I don't remember being so nervous. Well, perhaps it was the bravado of youth. Well... whatever. It was different.

This year's Tandav had a very nice format: First, a few student group items, then a dance drama or story. After the beginner items (Mooshika Vaahana, Tharitajam, Bahudaari), which were all very cute, there were two items that were notable. The 8-9 year olds danced to the Shiva Panchakshara Stotram "Nagendra Haraya" with a lot of confidence and energy. They remembered the whole 10-min long item! Samhita (as Rudra) & Samyuktha (as Sati) did really well in the Daksha Yagnyam scene. This item was followed by the Nataraja Anjali danced by a rather large group. It was fascinating to see how this group has grown as dancers over one year. Anjana & Gayathri are really working on their anga suddham, Sumanjali & Shivapriya have a lot of bhavam. Rhea has a lot of core strength. Shreya has that eye-catching attractiveness. The group did really well with the choreography.

An awesome surprise was Sudha Aunty joining Linda in Shiva Raja. I love, love, love ...... love watching Sudha Aunty dance! Enough said.

Then we went on to the dance drama - ORIGINS: HOW DANCE AND DRAMATIC INTERPRETATION WERE BROUGHT TO THE WORLD. Composed by Gopal Ven and choreographed by Sudha Aunty, this was great fun. Krithika & Sudha Aunty were the Sutradhaars. Hari Sarma played Brahma, Malini Sarma was Nandikeshwara and I played Bharata Muni (minus the mustache).

The good thing was that we hadn't rehearsed the story part together. Why is that good you might ask? It forced me to listen to the Vidyanjali Orchestra really hard and helped me to lose my nervousness. Even though I had done the research and knew the story lines, I was thinking it was such a good thing that the songs were in Tamil so I could follow along. I feel for the non-Tamil speaking dancers who learn Bharata Natyam - they do have to work extra hard!

The Tripura Samhara scene was really awesome, particularly the human chariot. Madhu & Akshaya were great as the Shivas. Nandikeshwara and Parvathi (Shreekari) taught Bharatha the Tandava & Lasya really well, so that Bharatha was able to do a Trikaala Jathi at the end of the lesson.

I really enjoyed the dance drama, even though I watched from the side of the stage. The graduates doing the Sapta Tandava were impressive. Akshaya & Shreekari made a lovely pair, as did Sonali & Nidhi, Arathi & Madhu - well-matched pairs. Kayal & Abhi (not a pair) were also very attractive. It is such a pleasure to watch good dancers who are in form. Pre-grad Vaishali won applause for her Oordhva Tandavam, and all the little kids have been trying to imitate her for the last week!

Some moments really stuck with me. Sudha Aunty's spontaneous Shiva Raja, Shreekari's "Shringara," Teja's solo as the pining Parvathi, the Daksha Yagnam cameo in Nagendra Haraya, Charanya's joyful smile in Ananda Nadamidum Paadan, Asho in the Thillana - nice confidence, Kayal performing the yagnam in Meenakshi Kalyanam and Divya coming out, Kutti Janani's adavus - nice araimandi! Surprisingly, it was the pre-grads who came up with such nice expressions.

The post-intermission started with a prettily-done Pushpanjali, our traditional Kavuthuvams, a neat Thisra Alarippu and Saveri Jathiswaram. The Jathiswaram was done by 14 dancers and Sirisha, Sushila, Jacqueline and Ami were notable in this item.

Then was the awesome padam: Ananda Natamidum Paadam performed by the pre-grads and one could see that the dancers are training for their arangetrams. So pretty!

Then Malini and I performed another padam: Sabhapathikku Veru Deivam. Learning from Vidya and practicing the padam with Malini and Aarrthy (who couldn't come to the program) was fun! Doing the padam was scary. At least with Jathis, one appears to be doing something. For a padam, if the emotion doesn't come through it is simply blah. Aunty said "good job," so I guess we didn't bomb.

And what is Tandav without Natanam Aadinar? After Natanam came three dance dramas: Parvathi Parinayam, Ganga Avatharanam and Meenakshi Kalyanam. My favorite item of the day was "Neelakanta Chandramouli," in which Teja depicted Parvathi pining for Lord Shiva. The kuttis as flowers, deer, birds, bees and peacock were charming in the Spring Dance (especially Shaili as the Peacock), and Charanya and Anisha rocked as Rati-Manmatha. Gopal composed a new Thillana in Mohanam for the nuptial celebrations. Asho and Kayal were very confident in this item.

In Ganga Avatharanam, Nisha as Ganga and Shivaani as Parvathi fought over Anusri as Shiva very convincingly. It was a very enjoyable item. Then Madhu and Arathi danced to Bho Shambho. This was followed by the Ardhanareswarar Stotram performed by Nidhi and Sonali. They were very, very good!

In Meenakshi Kalyanam, Asho was the grown-up Meenakshi and Divya the baby one. Abhi as king Malayadhwajan and Suhana as Queen Kanchanamala showed very good bhavam.

The seven hours simply flew by. The orchestra was superlative as usual, though they must have been tired after such a long program. 

This year, I was reminded of the importance of daily practise. There is a quote attributed to many from Lizst to Tansen: “Miss one day of practice, I notice; miss two, the knowledgable people notice; miss three, the audience notices."

I think I'm going to put it on my fridge.

By Chitra Narayan

 
 
The Maharashtra Mandal of Detroit presented "Jallosh," a group celebration in a Sankrant Folk Festival format at Novi High School. It was the first time in Mandal history that they showcased folk performances and festivities by various Indian communities.

We were kind of worried about the drive down there but HTR mom Jaya Arumanla gallantly came to the rescue and drove us safely via Ten Mile Road all the way ... and got us there. The drive there was quite treacherous. The organizers were a little tense since they couldn't begin without us. We were second in the program, so they prompltly started after we got there and then we had a 15-20 minute wait before we went on.

Our item went really well. We began with Shreekari, Akshaya and Arathi in "Aalaalakanda," a Tamil Tappankutthi, followed by Sirisha and Chinonye in "Mundhi Mundhi Vinaayakanae," a Karagaattam. Then Charanya, Anisha and Shivaani performed the "Kavadi," and it ended with the energetic Telugu Lambaadi dance "Lalaguda" with Arathi, Akshaya, Shreekari, Sirisha and Chinonye.

The audience and the organizers had high praise for our 10-minute item. The girls and I got so many compliments afterwards and we all enjoyed the Mandal's hospitality and dinner. It was very well sequenced by program manager Prasanna Aigalikar. The show co-ordinators were Sneha Rasal and Nayana Oak, who were very courteous and supportive. The audio-visual team did an outstanding job putting the entire sequence together.

Other items included Kathak dancer Anagha Huprikar's Vandana, Amit Deshpande's "Gondhal," a ritualistic folk art in which they invoke the deities, Gujerati-Rajasthani choreographed by Chaula Thackar, GOAN - a Portuguese folk dance, and Mandos with Konkani folk songs, a Qawwali lead by Vaidehi Dongre, a Bengali dance choreographed by Fanny Dattagupta, a Bhangra dance by Rushi Surati, and a Lavani by Manisha Dongre.

All the participants and choreographers then joined in the grand finale. There was a delicious Maharashtrian dinner that followed.


By Sudha Chandra Sekhar
 
 
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My mom and guru, Sudha Chandra Sekhar, came to spend a week with me and my husband in Orlando. And she proved to be a good luck charm for our dance group, too!

Mom came for a week to assist and support me as my students competed in the annual Gujarati Society of Central Florida Group Dance Competition, which is the biggest event of the year for Orlando's Indian community.

The first evening, Mom came to my dance class at the Sri ShivDham Mandir in east Orlando with the group that was preparing to compete. She gave the girls some wonderful advice and tips that really made a huge difference when it came to performance time! The girls were coordinated, expressive and did a fantastic job in the final performance, earning me my first win as a dance teacher in Orlando!

The participants in the competition were Aishwarya Babuji, Meera Sundar, Anjana Vishnubhotla, Pooja Veerareddy, Amruta Bollineni, Archana Banda and Priyanka Chandrashekar.

Mom also came to dance classes at the Santoshi Maa Mandir in Windermere as well as being the special guest at a dance class and luncheon in Melbourne, FL. The moms of the students truly appreciated her visit and the students gained a lot of insight that only a guru can provide. As my student Neeharika Pothamsetty put it, "Your Mom is magical!" We truly enjoyed having her here and can't wait for her next visit.

By Anjali Fluker

 
 
Sudha Aunty attended and presented her students at the annual Diwali Dinner at The Bharatiya Temple. Here are her thoughts:

I attended a beautiful, energy-charged Lakshmi Pooja at The Bharatiya Temple by Acharya Sarada Kumar of Bala Vihaar. I was so happy I did. Later, our HTR students delighted a full house at the Multi Purpose auditorium with a 40-minute spiritually uplifting and technically stong and well-performed program. So happy and proud of Akshaya Rajkumar, Shreekari Tadepalli, Arathi Arumanla, Abhinaya Shree & Anusri Yanumula, who brought out the manifestations of Lord Vishnu to save the world whenever evil raised its ugly head.

The Todaya Mangalam was notable for "captivating drama and involvement" by the students, said some of the members in the audience. Then came an enlivening performance by Gayathri & Sumanjali Reddy, Anjana Pisupati, Shivapriya Chandu, Charanya Rengarajan, Anisha Sarma, Saniya Kale & Neesha Krishnan, who as Ashtalakshmis brought out the beauty & power of Goddess Lakshmi in "Bhagyatha Lakshmi Baaramma." Next "Narayanathe Namo Namo" was noteworthy for its expresssive element. The episodes included Narasimha and Vamana Avataras explained by Charanya, Anisha & Saniya through dramatic expressions, which showed good team work. The senior group then performed an intricately choreographed Thillana in Dhanshri, which drew spontaneous applause from the appreciative audience of art connoisseurs.
"Thoroughly enjoyable," "fantastic program," "very well produced," "delightful, excellent students," were some of the comments we received from today's audience, who were all very happy and excited to see me after several years.

Parents, students and I came home feeling very grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord in honor of Deepavali, and for the unanimous acceptance of our work. Many thanks to Nidhi & Ravi Khattree, the Board of Trustees & Executive Committee of The Bharatiya Temple for making us part of this highly successful Annual Diwali Dinner and for all your hospitality. A sumptuous dinner was followed by a very enjoyable music performance by Mrinalini Arkatkar, Anil Deshpande & group.

Radhe Krishna!

By Sudha Chandra Sekhar