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Aruna and Malini make a mark on debut
The evening of the 28th of May saw two young Bharathanatyam artistes, Aruna and Malini, make their maiden performance at the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan auditorium at Mylapore. They are disciples of Ms. Nrithya Pillai, a direct descendant of the renowned guru Swamimalai Shri S.K.Rajaratnam Pillai.

The arangetram began with a Pushpanjali in Nattai. This was followed by the Natesa Kavuthuvam in Hamsadhwani. The "ulagellam unarndhu" sthuthi of Sekkhizhar on Shiva preceeded the kavuthuvam. Alarippu, which means flower bud in Tamil, is the first item that is taught to students of Bharathanatyam. Malini and Aruna performed for the Alarippu, set to Tisram. The picturesque Vazhuvoor paani adavus made the Alarippu enjoyable. The jathilayasaram (instead of Jathiswaram), a composition of Swamimalai Shri S.K. Rajaratnam Pillai, was the next item. Shri Mayavaram Vishwanathan's deft hands on the mridangam provided able support to the dancers. The choreography, however, was simplified to make it suitable for the young kids. The entries and exits of the two dancers were very well planned and executed.

Then came a varnam in Kambodhi, "Naathanai Azhaithu vaa". Vocalist Sushanth's rounded and mellifluous voice filled the auditorium with its divine presence. There was only one sanchaari throughout the varnam. The item was majorly nritta-oriented, again to suit the young dancers. The well-timed, sharp arudhis were the highlight of the varnam. Following a quick costume change was Theeradha Vilaiyattu Pillai in ragamalika. Malini played the role of Krishna and Aruna that of a Radha quite well. The Tamizh padam was followed by a Devarnama in Kannada, Thamburi Meetidhava, by Aruna. In this piece, the musicians were compared to the Suras and dancers were said to have no malice, thus bringing an equation between musicians, dancers and Gods. Next Malini did a Marati abhang in Valachi ragam. The evening's performance concluded with a thillana in Kalyana Vasantham, yet another composition of Swamimalai Shri S.K.Rajaratnam Pillai. The violinist Sri.Sunil Bhaskar and flautist Sri.S.Sunil Kumar did a neat job. Guru Ms.Nrithya Pillai for sure did not look like a first-timer on the nattuvangam. She showed good prowess in the rendition of jathis too.

The guests for the evening were Mr.Sripathi, Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu; Mr. P. Haridas, senior advocate of the Madras High Court; Mr.Trotsky Marudu, artiste and special effects director and Nrithya Choodamani Smt.Priyadarsini Govind. The guests were in all praise for the dancers, guru and the orchestra. Smt.Priya recollected her old memories with her vaadhyaar, Swamimalai Shri S.K.Rajaratnam Pillai.

The evening's performance, on the whole, was old wine in a new bottle with the flavor intact!