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Andal ballet strikes right chord
Guru Smt. Anitha Guha and her disciples from the Bharathanjali Trust presented a few verses from Thiruppavai in the form of a dance ballet titled "Koodiyirundhu Kulirndelor Empavai" on December 22, 2008 at the Ksheerasagara Hall, Villivakkam under the auspices of The Padma Sarangapani Cultural Academy. There was a slight delay in the commencement of the program. Bharathanjali's aasthaana compere Smt.Revathy Sankaran introduced Bharathanjali and its production on Thiruppavai.

The opening scene explained how the Varaha (the wild boar) avatar of Lord Vishnu saved Bhoomadevi from the demons. Bhoomadevi later incarnated as Andal. The scene set the platform for the rest of the ballet. Each of the ten verses was described in detail with the help of related pastimes of Lord Krishna. Notable was the scene in which Mohini beguiles the Asuras and gives the Amirtham to the Devas. The ball game with seven dancers was a visual delight. The entire episode of Krishna losing the game against the maidens was set to a korvai and the dancers stuck to their guru's thaalam as they played the game. The way the dancers were used to depict a cow was very appealing and realistic. The choreographer's intelligence was shown in the scene in which three vadhams (killing of the evil by the Lord) - Narasimha killing Hiranya kasipu, Rama killing Ravana and Krishna killing kamsa - were shown simultaneously. The dancers entered the auditorium from the entrances below the stage a couple of times and surprised the audience. However, one could notice the repetition of a few episodes (like the Krishna eating mud episode) and even jathi korvais from Smt. Anitha's other productions.

Though most of the episodes were the usual and well-known pastimes of Krishna, the choreography and the dancers made it very interesting. Aishwarya Narayanaswamy, Smt. Anitha's senior-most disciple, played the Andal and became the talk of the evening. She also took up a few other important roles such as Sudhama etc. She exhibits maturity in her bhaavam and has a crisp footwork. In a particular song, the scene of Krishna and his consort making love unfolds in Andal's dream. Throughout the scene, Aishwarya retains the `sleeping' pose. Her ability to maintain such still-postures for a long time is commendable. Balashree Yatin Agarwal donned the role of Krishna and did a good job. Other dancers like Balashree Sathwika Shankar, Charanya Narayanaswamy and Janani Sethunarayanan are students whom Smt. Anitha can be proud of.

Smt. Anitha led the orchestra for the entire two-hour production on the Nattuvaangam. Her powerful rendering of the jathis and extra-effects like the snoring of the Kumbhakarna, laughing of Raakshasaas etc. added more life. Raandhini (Padma Seshadri sisters) gave vocal support and did a neat job. They were ably supported by P.R. Venkata Subramanium on the Keyboard and others on the mridangam, rhythm pad and flute. The light effects helped in creating the right kind of feel in many scenes. Anitha and her team yet again proved their ability to reach even to the common man. After the Ballet, the sabha secretary conferred on her the title "Padma Kala Kalpatharu".

A repeat performance of the ballet will be staged at Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Vani Mahal, T.Nagar, Chennai on December 28, 2008 at 6.30 p.m.