Chennai girl dances her way into the rain

Chennai girl dances her way into the rain

Smrithi Nishta Suresh may have debuted on stage but her performance seemed to have impressed the weather gods

A  scintillating Bharatanatyam performance by a US-based teenager has taken  Chennai by storm. Smrithi Nishta Suresh, based in California, chose her ancestral city of Chennai for her arangetram (the first ever stage performance) and she did it with élan as an audience, which included the great gurus from Kalakshetra, sat through the two-hour long recitation, exhilarated and  thrilled. They had reasons to be. It began raining as she harmonised with universal rhythms.

Smrithi (14) who was trained in true Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam by Guru Suganda Sreenath, herself a product of the temple of art set up by Rugminidevi Aundale, had selected  some of the tough items and executed it in style. Smrithi’s arangettram turned out to be a gurudakshina to Kalakshetra as well as the great gurus V P Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan (both Padma Vibhushan awardees) who sat back and watched spellbound.

While she flew down to Chennai for her arangetram, the city was boiling under the extended summer. When she commenced the nrithya with Jathiswaram,  based on Hindola raagam and composed by Yellappa Pillai, to invoke the blessings of Lord Krishna, the ambience inside and outside  Sivagamai Pethachi Auditorium underwent  a change.

Not without reason. The mellifluous vocal recitation by Radha Badri and the Nattuvangam by Guru Suganda Sreenath and Shreya Iyer, who flew in with Smrithi, acted as a catalyst to the changing weather. There was total synchronisation as the danseuse merged herself with the music. If one was to compare Smrithi’s performance to that of a gymnastic event, she had scored a “perfect ten” in her arangettram itself.

“It was a sterling display. Hats off to this prodigy in her long journey,” said Dhananjayan after the show. He has reasons to be happy. Smrithi set the stage on fire with two complex numbers choreographed by him.  “She is my grand disciple because her Guru Sugandha was my student,” said the living legend of Bhatayanatyam.   

One got to experience the calmness of an ocean as well as the intensity of the sea waves and the pristine beauty of the nature as Smrithi rendered the numbers. By the time she concluded the show with nrittaangahaaram, the audience could feel  the beauty of all the seasons… It was only after coming out of the auditorium that the spectators saw for themselves that it was raining heavily while Smrithi was scoring her “perfect tens”.

Dhananjayan is totally against the word dance to describe Bharatanatyam. “It is not dance; you have to say it is nrithya or nadana because of its uniqueness,” said the guru after watching the programme.

Chennaikars have reasons to be thrilled. An art form which is the soul of Tamil Nadu is alive and kicking in its purest form in far away continents like the US because of the sustained efforts of Gurus like Suganda. “There is a Kalakshetra in California by name Jayendra Kalakendra, the brainchild of Suganda,” said Guru Dhananjayan.



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