Every Bharatanatyam recital commences with a prayer to the Supreme Being.  It is a moment for everyone to pray for the success of the show.  Today’s program commences with an invocatory prayer composed specifically for the Anjali School of Dance by our singer this evening,  Archana Mungara.
ananda nardhana ganapathim
"Ananda Nardhana", which literally means the dance of joy, describes the scene as Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and bestower of boons, does his blissful dance.  The heavens join in, with musical instruments, raining praises on the one that symbolizes and personifies the primal and universal sound, Om
The jathiswaram is an item where the movements will not convey any meaning or theme but showcases a dancer's perfection in nritta. It is a musical composition set to a raga (tune or melody) and the steps are more complex than the previous items.
The varnam is the central and longest dance piece in this sequence of dances.  It brings together nritta as well as abhinaya and is the biggest challenge to the dancer’s stamina and endurance.  This varnam is based on the "Ashtalakshmi Stotram".  It is a Sanskrit hymn on Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth).  Ashta is the sanskrit word for eight.  Ashtalakshmi Stotram describes the eight manifestations of Goddess Lakshmi - fame, knowledge, courage, victory, happiness, intelligence, monetary gains, good health and long Life.  This female empowered dance is a signature choreography of the Anjali School of Dance and has been composed by our singer this evening, Archana Mungara.
little red riding hood
Given the diverse nature of our audience, we wanted to portray something the audience would identify with. While Bharatanatyam, true to its origins, typically portrays stories from Hindu mythology, dance is all about portraying stories.  Over the past 12 years, the Anjali School of Dance has been creating choreographic work using the traditional dance vocabulary to tell stories from the West. Originally composed as a solo dance, the story of Red Riding Hood was the first in the long series of experimental work. This dance has now been specially re-choreographed for Manasi and Mahathi. This signature choreography of the Anjali School of Dance song has been composed by our singer this evening, Archana Mungara.  In this Grimm Brothers' version of the old fairy tale, Manasi plays Red while Mahathi portrays the wolf/hunter.
kutrala kuravanji
This is a folksy number depicting the store telling of a gypsy.  As is their characteristic, they roam about from place to place.  Gypsies in India also read fortunes.  They carry parrots that pick out  tarot-like cards and use their fortune telling stick to read hands.  This dance portrays the kurathi (gypsy) pining for, Kutralam, the place she hails from and describing its beauty - the greenery of the forests, the sweetness of the fruits, the fertile lands, the fragrance of the flowers and the nectar like water.  This is a solo performed by Manasi.
soccer in barauni
Soccer has been a part of the girls' lives for as long as dance has been.  That, and the fact that a lot of their soccer friends would be attending the event, sparked off an idea with Meera Kanagal to portray a soccer story through dance.  This dance is dedicated to the soccer playing girls of Barauni village in the northern Indian state of Bihar.  In a village plagued by poverty and communal violence, the girls' soccer team has helped the villagers bury their differences and brought the village together.  Mahathi will be performing this solo.  Read more about this inspiring story here.  This female empowered signature Anjali School of Dance choreography has been specially composed by Archana Mungara and choreographed for Mahathi given her love for soccer.
The Thillana is a glorious finale to a Bharatanatyam recital. It is a dance of exuberant joy and intricate mathematical variations set to captivating music. The thillana is an item of pure dance (nritta). Each step is executed in slow, medium and fast speeds (kaalas) resulting in impressive theermanams.  It culminates in the fastest speed creating an exhilarating and thrilling conclusion.  Thillana is full of complicated movements & postures. This piece requires exemplary skills in terms of rhythm, timing and synchronization.   Graceful body movements and some elements of abhinaya combine in Thillana. 
Mangalam means a successful ending. The performance concludes with a verse according to tradition. The dancers perform the salutations and express their gratitude to Mother Earth, God, their gurus, and the members of the orchestra as well as the audience. In a final prayer, they pray for everybody’s well-being and success at the end of their performance.
Manasi and Mahathi have been training intensively for this event for over an year and a half.  The staff at the Anjali School of Dance has choreographed each dance specifically for them.  Performing these dance numbers as a duet poses synchronization challenges while opening up choreographic opportunities.  This is the fruition of endless hours of choreographing, re-choreographing and practice to memorize, emote and synchronize the moves amongst themselves and with the music.
For a sneak peek at what it takes to get to event day, visit the behind the scenes page.

© 2017 srinivasan, sarangapani & sridhar family