Tuesday 19 July 2016

Bharatanatyam duo at California’s Chinmaya Mission - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

It was for me intriguingly unlike the usual run of programmes watching a recital titled ‘After Arangetram’ in California’s Irvine district - for it was after more than a decade that I was witnessing Bharatanatyam in the States, by dancers from Arpana, an established school in Irvine, run by Ramya Harishankar. It was that unmistakable Indo-American ambiance at the Los Angeles Chinmaya Centre auditorium, notwithstanding saree-clad volunteers ushering in ticket holders (unlike the Indian situation where most programmes are for an invited audience. 

Of the two disciples of Ramya Harishankar featured in the programme, Kanthi Atreya and Visalini Sundaram, Visalini had had her arangetram a couple of years ago, while Kanthi the partner, studying medicine, was described as regarding Bharatanatyam as an ‘oxymoron’ giving her freedom of expression within a prescribed grammar. Suffice it to say that much like such events elsewhere, the performance clearly showed an enthusiastic duo with a joy in rendering the dance. While Visalini whose dance has the ground work, is sure to evolve with time and experience, Kanthi Atreya’s dance which has a certain flair, showed the need for more internalized emotion and less of the exuberant torso and neck deflections, tending to smudge the Bharatanatyam body line.  

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