The penultimate avatar of the reclining Lord Maha Vishnu is adored and celebrated by poets and devotees across varied languages and cultures. He is the apple of the eye, of ancient composers like Purandara Dasa, Annamacharya, Surdas, Meera, Narayana Theerthar, Jayadeva, Ashtapathis, Oothukadu Venkatasubaiyar, and many more. This thematic dance performance – ‘Nandalala’ vows to bring to its audience the splendour of this ever charming ‘Night-hued’ Lord through the mellifluous compositions of these legends along with those penned by current day Vidwans like Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan and PR Venkatasubramanian.
This multilingual performance will chronicle Lord Krishna’s life. Re-told through dance and music, the stories of, Kaliya Nardhanam, Govindha Patabhishekam (Crowning of Govinda), Raas Leela, Kamsa Vadham (Killing of Kamsa) and Geethopadesham will be performed - in each of these highly trying circumstances he has emerged victorious with an ever-playful smile.
Striking choreography by Smt. Anitha Guha, mellifluous music by Sri. Neiyveli Santhanagopalan coupled with exceptional lyrics by Sri. Neiyveli Santhanagopalan and Sri. P.R. Venkatasubramanium makes this production a must watch. The production opens with the Pancha Pandavas and Draupadi embarking on their 13 year exile (Vana Parvam) and finishes with the final year of exile which the pandavas spend incognito (Virata Parvam). The production is slotted to be presented at the Music and Dance Season 2014-2015. It was also presented in USA in April 2014 for ‘Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival’ as part of the Mahabharatha series choreographed by veterans like Prof. C.V Chandrasekar, Pandit. Briju Maharaj, Smt. Savithri Jagannatha Rao etc.
3. Parishvanga Pattabishekam
Originally choreographed for the ‘Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival’ in April 2011, ‘Parishvanga Pattabishekam’ enumerates episodes from Kishkintha and Sundara Kandam of Ramayana. Items from the margam have been incorporated as narrative sequences without allowing it to compromise on the style or take away its dramatic value. The entire production is completely based on the Valmiki Ramayanam which has ample scope to bring out all the vrittis explained in the Natyasastra.
Two prime features of this production are its outstanding music by Sri. Neiyveli Santhanagopalan and innovative Choreography by Guru. Smt. Anitha Guha that literally transports one to the Thretha Yuga. For example, while depicting the Asuras in Lanka, we have used a ‘Mallari’ style which is used in processions of Gods, but with a humorous twist to caricature Asuras and their weirdness. Also, while the Vanara clan resounds with joy and celebration on the happy occasion of Sugreeva’s Pattabishekam, a thillana in ‘Kadhanakudhugalam’ unfolds. The hasthas and movements have been choreographed to typically suit the behaviour of the festive vanaras.
4. Hare Rama Hare Krishna
This thematic margam was choreographed and presented in 2012 by senior students of Bharathanjali. The production had woven together traditional compositions as well as works of contemporary poets. It featured evergreen popular compositions like Nagumomu Ganalemi(Thyagaraja) and,Bhavayami Raghuramam(Swathi Thirunal). Also presented was a kavithuvam by Sri. Madurai Muralidharan, pushpanjali by Sri. Balamurali Krishna to name a few. Another highlight is a fusion of three Oothukadu Venkatakavi sahithyams (suggested by Smt. B. Meenakshi) to potray a humorous situation in the form of a dialogue between Mother Yadhodha, Krishna and he gopis of Vrindavan.
5. Mahadevam Mahasenam Bhaje
Set with the backdrop of mount Kailasa, the production opens with Dakshayini requesting Shiva to attend her estranged father’s yaagam. After her tragic death owing to her humiliation at the yaagam, infuriated Shiva executes her father. The story moves on to his marriage with Parvathy and the birth of Muruga. The 90 minute production concludes with Soorapadman vadam by Muruga. The union of Shiva and Parvathy is marked by an exclusive and unique ‘Ardhanari’ sequence with two dancers sharing every dance movement in perfect synchronisation. Initially choreographed and presented in 2002, It was staged again in 2010. The brilliant music for this production had been composed by Sri. P.R Venkatasubramanium, whose contribution to this production and almost every other production is indispensable.
6. Pada Kavitha Pitaamaha
Inspired by the book “Flowers At his Feet”, this production on the work of Saint Annamacharya was first premiered in the year 2008. The dance drama was welcomed by the audience with full houses in all shows during the December season. The sabhas were so full that projectors had to be put up outside each venue to accommodate all the rasikas. Beautifully moving across Saint Annamacharya’s compositions relating them to each stage of his life, the nrithyanatakam brings to life grand scenes like the Brahmotsavam showcasing the divine Venkatachalapathy in his various forms. Other highlights are Ashtalakshmi and Navaratna Krishna and the depiction of the seven hills. It also showcases ‘gobillu changubala’ integrating folk under the realm of classicism.
This Bengali production narrates the story of Chitrangadha, a Manipuri princess who is brought up like a man in all respects by her father. She, during a hunting expedition meets and falls in love with the pandava- scion Arjuna who takes her as a male as she lacks totally in outwardly characteristic feminine charms and attributes. Provoked by the woman in her, she appeals to the Lord of Love- Manmatha, gets transformed into an incomparable beauty and woos Arjuna. On a later occasion, Arjuna learns the truth of her personality (when she single handedly drives away a band of dacoits ) and salutes her in sheer admiration. Retransformed Chitrangadha asserts that man or woman, princess or warrior, she cannot be treated lightly and she should be viewed as an equal life-partner accepted totally for whatever she is! It is thus, a tribute to woman’s equality with man by Tagore. The entire production is in Bengali, interspersed with jathis in kathak style to accentuate the genesis of the story. Music interludes have also been composed by Sri. P.R Venkatasubramanian.
8. Koodiyirundhu Kulirndhelor Empaavai
It is an aesthetic production woven together with the paasurams of the Thiruppavai. Steeped in bhakthi, the production has been targeted to emphasize on the deeper implications of ‘Thiruppavai’ and not merely its literal meaning. With the help of resource person Dr.Anantha Padmanabhachariar, interesting interpretations beyond popular perception have been drawn. For example, in the paasuram ‘Ongi Ulagalandha’ instead of depicting just the vamana avatara vishwaroopam, the Gitopadesam vishwaroopam is also shown simultaneously. In ‘Pullin Vai Keendanai’, that indicates the killing of Bakasura and Ravana, Hiranyakashapu vadham is also included owing to the usage of words – ‘Killi Kalaindaanai’.
9. Natrunai Aavadhu Namatchivayave (2005)
It was specially choreographed for the 25th anniversary of Chidambaram Natyanjali Festival. As the title suggests, the production sings praise of the glorious Shiva with stories from periya puranam. Lot of thevarams of Appar, Sundarar, Thirungnana Sambandhar are also included. The rich lyrical content was written by Sri P.R venkatasubramanian to match the originals of the Nanyanmars. The nayanmars became the narrators of the storyline unfolding episodes like Tripura Samharam, Sundarar, Arjuna and Keerata, Karaikkaalammayaar. The outstanding feature is the Pancha shiva thandavam(Dance of Five Shivas) incorporating the concept of Panchakshara, Panchabootha, Panchamukha, Prapanchan. All these manifestations were brought out with the usage of numerous karanas.
10. Ramyam Hitham Natyam (2004)
This production was formulated on the concept that ‘dance can convey many morals’– To elaborate this concept, Vishnu’s incarnation as mohini to kill bhasmasura (Destruction), Iyyappan dancing in kaalayakatti after killing mahishasura (Triumph over evil), Arjuna in the form of Brigannala (To live in disguise), Kalinga Narthanam (Challenge) are presented. It is believed that all gods are assembled in heaven to witness the Sandhya Thandavam of Shiva and his consort Parvathi during pradosham. It is said that they dance joyously in between the two horns of nandi. The apsaras known for their beauty and lasyam weave the story together as the narrators. Lyrics and Music have been composed by Sri. P.R Venkatasubramanium.
11. Sada Venkatesam Smaraami Smaraami
The dance-drama revolves around the love story of Padmavathy Thaayar and Lord Venkatachalapathy which culminates in their extravagant wedding. This production has pioneered in the usage of traditional arts like Bommai Kalyanam and Pinnal Kolattam while journeying across the various stages of Padmavathy’s childhood. The highpoints of this production are its grandeur and divinity. Lyrics and Music are by Sri. P.R Venkatasubramanium.
12. Sarvam Shakthi Mayam Jagath (2003)
An Anectode from the Upanishad forms the base of this production. The scene unfolds with the Devas Celebrating victory and suddenly encounter a ‘jyothi’ which scares them. Agni, Varuna and Vayu go to fight it and return in vain. Then indra tries his might and returns with his pride extinguished. The light then reveals itself as adi shakthi who is the surpreme. It is then explained that it is Her manifestations that are Shiva, Shakthi, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma and Saraswathi. Lyrics and Music are by Sri. P.R Venkatasubramanium.
Thathasthu was initially choreographed in 2000 for International Dance Alliance (IDA) and was later also presented at the Natyanjali Festival in Chidambaram. It is said that all constructions in Kailasam needs the prior approval of Saneeswara. Shiva and Parvathy are dancing joyously with their sons when Parvathi requests Shiva to obtain approval for a Natya Mantap (Dance Hall) constructed by her. And if not approved, she asks Shiva to signal to her by playing the damaru so that she can destroy it herself. However, Saneeshwara grants permission and in return shiva performs the Ananda Thandavam for him. When back in Kailasa he finds parvathy shattered and in tears. She sobs and informs him that the mantap has been destroyed as she heard his Damaru. This story was narrated by Swami Sri Sathya Sai Baba underlining the moral that even the Supreme is not allowed to break rules. Lyrics and Music are by Sri. P.R Venkatasubramanium.
Other noteworthy productions include
14. Ganapathy Thalam (From the Aagama Shasthram)
15. Sai Nakshathramalai – Amalgamation of shirdi saibaba stories
16. Swagatham Krishna Saranagatham Krishna – Birth Of Krishna to Raas Leela
17. Seetha Kalyanam
18. Valli Kalyanam
19. National Integration
20. Shiva Parvathi
21. Mohini Bhasmasura
22. Radha Krishna