With the Blessings of
Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy
and the late
Vidwan Madurai Shri N Krishnan
Silambam Houston Presents
(Disciple of Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan)
Ranga Pravesham (Solo Stage Debut)
May 11, 2019
Marie Spence Flickinger Fine Arts Center,
San Jacinto College South Campus, Houston TX
Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan is a dancer, guru, and scientist who has resided in the Houston area for over a decade, and is a prominent figure in the Houston arts and culture scene.
Dr. Rajagopalan learnt Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of the renowned dancer and Padmashree awardee Smt. Sudharani Raghupathy. She has performed extensively and to critical acclaim, both individually and in collaboration with other artistes, in India and the US. She is an accomplished vocalist, having trained in classical music under Shri Seetharama Sharma, and later with Shri. Srinivasa Iyengar and Padmabhushan Vidwan Madurai Shri. N. Krishnan. She is a proficient nattuvanar as well.
In addition to her artistic pursuits, she holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, and freelances as a science writer and editor. She currently resides in League City, TX with her husband and two children.
Photography by: Amazing Visuals
An invocatory item in praise of the Ardhanareeshwara form of Shiva and Shakti, symbolizing harmony in the universe through the balance of the fiery power of Shiva and the calm grace of Parvathi. Set to Ragam Megh and Adi Talam, this piece has been choreographed by Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan.
Consisting of nritta (abstract movement) set to swarams (musical notes), the jathiswaram showcases the sculpturesque technique of Bharatanatyam. It conveys no sentiment or meaning, and is purely an exposition of aesthetic movement technique. Set to Saveri Ragam and Adi Talam, this jathiswaram is a composition of the Tanjavur Quartet, and forms part of the rich heritage of the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam. The piece has been choreographed by the senior-most students of Silambam, including Reshma.
This purely emotive piece consists of verses from the Nachiar Thirumozhi, set to Ragam Thilang, Thalam Adi. Painkili Vannan describes the love of the female poet-saint Andal (ca. 3000 BCE) for Lord Vishnu. The poet describes the lord as the one with parrot-hued skin, and entreats her pet koel bird to take a message to him telling him of her great yearning for him.
The centerpiece of a Bharatanatyam performance, the varnam is both a showcase and an acid test of the skill and endurance of the dancer. Reshma’s varnam, Aadharam Neeye, depicts a girl in the throes of love for the romantic and playful Krishna. ‘You are my hope and my salvation!’ she says, reflecting, through her romantic yearning for her lord, the deeper philosophy of the yearning of the mortal soul (Jeevatma) for the ultimate truth (Paramatma). ‘Won’t you enfold me in your loving embrace? You elude me like a mirage in the desert, and my throat is dry from calling you repeatedly.’
In the second half of this piece, the heroine says ‘Is it fair that you tease me so? I have placed my entire faith in you, please do not delay further.’
Set to Ragam Kharaharapriya, Talam Adi, this varnam is a composition of the late Vidwan Madurai N. Krishnan, a Padmabhushan recipient, founding director of Shree Bharatalaya, and spiritual guru to students of that premiere fine arts institution, including Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan.
In praise of Jesus Christ, this padam is an emotive piece rich in abhinaya, set to Ragam Hamsadhwani and Thalam Adi, and choreographed by Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan. The lyrics describe Jesus as the embodiment of love and joy, whose compassionate gaze removes all suffering among mankind, and towards whom all nature, from the seas to the mountains, turn for solace.
In a lighter, more playful vein, this javali depicts a conversation in which a girl boldly approaches a young man, and informs him that her ‘friend’ is much in love with him, and is pining to be with him. ‘She has a voice like honey’ says the girl, ‘and she is witty and well-read, besides being skilled in many arts’. As the conversation progresses, the girl lets it slip that the pining heroine is … herself!
Thillana and Mangalam
A traditional and exuberant finale in a Bharatanatyam recital, the Thillana is a predominantly nritta (abstract dance) piece anchored by a short verse in praise of a deity. Reshma performs a Thillana in Ragam Amrithavarshini, Thalam Adi, a composition of Padma Bhushan Vidwan Madurai N Krishnan and choreographed by Dr. Lavanya Rajagopalan. This is followed by a Mangalam, a traditional closing salutation.
Reshma, her family, and the entire Silambam family thank you for your presence and blessings at this milestone in Reshma’s dance journey!