Hindu Temple Celebrates the Lord of Dance on Mahashivaratri
Lemont IL: Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago (HTGC) at Lemont, IL, celebrated the Lord of Dance (Nata-Raja) on Mahashivaratri with a cultural program that saw wide participation from across Chicagoland, even all the way from Iowa. Classical styles from both South and North India were represented, as also old devotionals rendered through contemporary fusion. Performers ranged from six-year old kids to mothers dancing with their adult daughters. As befitting this festival of ascetic Shiva’s awakening from the depths of prolonged meditation to the world of the senses, most items portrayed the god deploying his limbs in ecstasy (tandava), sometimes accompanied by consort Parvati’s gentle (lāsya) dance.
Following a dhun (folkish melody) from HTGC cultural committee, there was a tabla ensemble performed by Hersh Pathak, Darsh Kapadia, Shiven Gupta, Akhil Ghosh, Ayush Panda, Dhruv Chepakasseril, and Amogh Raula from Jugalbandi Academy of Tabla and Kathak Dance in Naperville. Founder and choreographer Bindu Pathak has been teaching in Chicagoland since 1995. This was followed by “Om Namah Shivaya” a Kathak performance featuring Shreya Surti, Sahej Sharma, and Anusha Singh. Tabla ensemble comprising Athyun Nagelli, Amal Ghosh, Shivansh Padhy, Hersh Pathak, Harsh Sharma, Amogh Raula, and Pragya Mahishweri then performed together (jugalbandi) with Kathak dancers Bhavya Pathak, and Unnathi Nagelli, to rhythmic syllables (bols) sung out by Pathak.
Vidya Pandikaran depicted the wonder (kauthuvam) of Natesa’s vigorous solo dance through rapid footwork and expressive emotions in Kalakshetra style. A student of Adyar. K. Lakshman and of Vijayalakshmi, she has been learning Bharata Natyam for over 15 years and teaches at her home in Westmont.
Prefaced by the Maha Mritunjaya mantra, the fierce Rudra’s Omkara dance, choreographed by Bhawna and Pratik, was performed by sword-wielding Aashman Sharma, Priya Adiga, Sreenija Vedula, Ayra Gulati, and Kaavya Vassa.
Accomplished Bharata Natyam pair, mother-guru Sowmya Kumaran and daughter-disciple Bhavya Kumaran, depicted the Androgyne (Ardhanareeswaram) to a garland of Carnatic ragas. Shruthi Sethuraman then joined the duo in performing Ananda Koothanin in Hamsanandi raagam. Shivani Gupta, Karshana Kalyan, Roshni Gowrisankar, and Shreya Gaddi followed again with Shiva’s Dance of Joy (Ananda Natam Adum).
Pragnya Yogesh from Des Moines (Iowa) danced the solo part of the Moon-Crested (Chandra Chooda) god. Choreographer, classical and folk dancer, Yogesh began learning dance at age 4 securing 1st rank for in Karnataka state. A graded Doordarshan (TV) artist in India, she is Artist Director of the Eshanjali school of dance. After a brief Kuchipudi dance by Akshita Mogulla, Anagha Surampalli, and Nikhil Vodrahalli, Yogesh was joined by Srivani Vokkarane to perform as a duo, offering a study in contrast between their respective Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi renderings of the “Omkaara” dance, also dedicated to the Lord of the Universe at Varanasi. A disciple of Sunanda and Prema Kumari, Vokkarane has a Vidvat (proficiency) certification in Bharatha Natyam. Having also studied Kuchipudi under Vyjayanthi Kashi and Prasuna Vootkur, Vokkarane is artistic director of Sriranga School of Dance in Aurora, IL
Mudra Dance Academy offered two pieces, traditional then fusion. Meghana Mangalvedhe, Manasi Mangalvedhe, Pranita Rao, Nupur Porkharkar, and Miloni Mehta performed a fast paced Natesha Kauvithvam in praise of damaru-wielding Lord Shiva. Kajal Thakkar, Nirali Thakkar, Shreya Thakkar, Hirangi Patel, Priyal Shah, Sahiri Velivala, and Susan Abraham followed with Charishnu (“desire to move”), fusion piece celebrating dance in various tempos and patterns.
Asha Acharya Performing Art Academy (AAPAA), which conducts classes in Naperville, Aurora, and Schaumburg (Ill.) offered six Bharata Natyam items in choreographed by Asha Acharya Adiga. Tokakashtaka and Siva stuti were performed by Jyothi Thippana, Riya Shirahatti, Sanjana Kommera, Sruthi Murugesh, Chaitra Reddy,Lahari Chappidi, and Kousalya Velagapudi. Mahika Palani, Apurva Reddy, Haritha Karthikeyan, Ishani Sahu, Manasvi Thumu, Joshitha Thippana, Srinithi Yalamanchili, and Meghna Kalagara performed “Naadam” (primordial sound). This was followed by Om Namashivaaya and Devi Stuti by Dinara Godage, Harshitha Vetrivel, Neha Chandramohan, Vani Ramesh, Shreeya Yampati, and Vibha Srikanth. Antra Ravikumar, Kshama Tavva, Rinna Talwar, Samhita Sivarathri, Shreya Rao, and Varshini Medempudi,
performed Shiva Stotram, which recounted the Markandeya story. Aarya Arun, Saranya Ganne, Shreya Venkat, Shreya Vijaianand, Srijani Prekki, Surabhi Ponna, Avnika Talreja, and Reema Vishwanathan danced Shloka and Dakshina Murthaye. AAPAA concluded its lineup with Shiva Kauthuvam, this time by adults Egle Kritopulos, Rohini Venkat, Swapna Danda, and Khristi Blocton.
Established in 1994, Sheetal Dhanani’s Tarana Dance Academy, which has 200 students across three centers, presented three group dances. Bhuvani Shah, Radha Thakrar, Pooja Thakrar, Anisha Karande, Rhea Goel, Priya Sham, Anisha Kalra, Diti Kohli, Anushaka Parikh, Avani Shah, Tanvi Patel, and Snigdha Mantri performed prefaced their Kathak in Teen Taal with the “Guru Brahma” verse. Rewa Narsana, Aaliya Lokhandwala, Sanya Ranjan, Shruti Bharatia, Risha Arora, Riddhi Deshpandey, Krupa Parmar, Nandini Gupta, Aashna Dogra, Karizma Bondhanwala, Saachi Kumar, Bidisha R, and Parama Ghatak performed the rhythmic Tarana. Rhea Mundle, Abha Naik, Simran Singh, Rhea Singh, Riya Dave, Nandini Sarup, Tanya Choudhari, Riddhi Limaye, and Sana Khadilkar concluded with Shiva Tandava.
Young Krishaan, Rishi, and Ishan did a Ganesha dance choreographed by Garima Malhan and Roma Bhagat. Sushmita Arunkumar’s Nrithyanjali School of Dance (Bollingbroke, Ill.) then offered three Bharata Natyam group items. Adithi Arunkumar, Samhita Rai, and Anupama Udaykumar performed Natesha Kauthuvam and Allarippu in raagam Hamsadhwani. Kaavya Poola, Aasmitha Chitturi, Aparna Gollakota, Jhalak Modi, Simron Sahoo, Sirisha Damaraju, and Meha Desai performed Aadi Kondar in raagam Mayamalavagowla. Ammu Jacob, Jenitha Jomi, and Sherin Ellickal concluded with the lyrical piece (padam) “Ananda Natam Idum” in raagam Kedaragowla. Disciple of Padmashri Adyar. K. Lakshman, Jayanthi Subramaniam and Bragha Bessell, Arunkumar has been training students for the last 17 years in Kalakshetra style.
The program concluded with a Tarana in raag Jana-sammohini by Anjali Kotamarthi, Janavi Kotamarthi and Sonali Shani from Gurmeet’s Dancing Petals School, which offers classes in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling (Ill.). Gurmeet, who has been learning Kathak for the last 12 years at Anila Sinha Foundation has a Senior Diploma certification from Prayag Sangeet Samiti.
Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon was Anju Lal.
Photo captions for Shivaratri cultural program on March 9 at HTGC (in order of priority):
07 =Ananda Koothanin in Bharata Natyam by Sowmya Kumaran (C), Bhavya Kumaran (L), and Shruthi Sethuraman (R)
11 = Duo (jugalbandi) performance of Omkaara simultaneously in Bharata Natyam by Pragnya Yogesh (behind) and in Kuchipudi style by Srivani Vokkarane (front).
19 = Shiva Kauthuvam by Egle Kritopulos, Rohini Venkat, Swapna Danda, and Khristi Blocton from Asha Acharya Performing Arts Academy.
25 = Aadi Kondar by Kaavya Poola, Aasmitha Chitturi, Aparna Gollakota, Jhalak Modi, Simron Sahoo, Sirisha Damaraju, and Meha Desai from Nrithyanjali School of Dance.
22 = Shiv Tandav by Rhea Mundle, Abha Naik, Simran Singh, Rhea Singh, Riya Dave, Nandini Sarup, Tanya Choudhari, Riddhi Limaye, Sana Khadilkar from Tarana Dance Academy.
02 = Kathak dancers with tabla ensemble from Jugalbandi Academy of Tabla and Kathak Dance. Director and choreographer Bindu Pathak seated extreme left is repeating bols.
04 = Bharata Natyam teacher Vidya Pandikaran performing Natesha Kauthuvam
08 = Ananda Natam Idum by Shivani Gupta, Karshana Kalyan, Roshni Gowrisankar, and Shreya Gaddi