Monday, August 13, 2007

Sushma and Shilpa's Arangetram

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Deloye Burrell Photo
The Boppanna sisters had their dance debut on 16th June, at the Harrison Theater at the Samford University. The program lasted for about two hours. The dance kept the audience of friends and relatives enthralled without a dull moment.The sisters presented a full margam (a set of dances - the simple to the complicated - encompassing all of the Bharatnatyam repertoire).

All their hard work was evident from the very first steps of Pushpanjali, the shloka which followed just giving a hint of the intense abhinaya that was going to follow. The neat geometrical lines of the jathiswaram, enhanced by the soulful singing of Eswaran, paved path for the best number of the afternoon.

A varnam is the ultimate test of the dancer's stamina and skills, since it combines the elements of Bharatnatyam : Nritta and abhinaya in the right proportions. The abhinaya needs to be exact as you explore several moods in one or two characters. The sisters had chosen a todi varnam, "roopamu (d)zuchi" a timeless composition by the Thanjavur quartet of dance. They did full justice to it.

Uploaded to Flickr by
Deloye Burrell Photo
Guru Sheila Rubin, had made it rigorous and traditional, by not cutting corners to reduce the fast, razor sharp theermanams (highly rhythmic pure dance) which punctuated the soulful sanchari bhavas (mime). Although varnam's are generally performed in solo, the seamless splitting between the two sisters spoke volumes about the long hours of practice by the duo. The coordination and perfect synchronization of hands and feet many a times created an illusion of one person dancing with two bodies....

The abhinaya conveyed the sahitya (lyrics) content without exaggeration in both the javalis done by the sisters. The old "Natabhairavi" tillana a great favorite of dancers in the sixties (!!) was taken off the shelf, dusted and polished to all of our delight. The eye catching cross overs covering the stage left the audience spellbound. The music ensemble was a like good friend, helping them but never sneaking into the limelight. Clear enunciation of the lyrics and sollukattus (rhythmic onomatopoeic syllables) helped the audience to connect with the lyrics and rhythm. The musicians gave their best without drawing any attention to themselves.

The arangetram was both an inspiration and a benchmark for all the good students of dance.

Mrs. Shivaleela & Dr. Suresh Boppanna made us feel very welcome to their daughters dance debut. The great snacks at the reception after the dance were the perfect ending to a perfect program.

View more photos from Sushma and Shilpa's Arangetram here, courtesy of Deloye Burrell Photo.

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