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Enlivening Bharatanatyam performance by Meera Vashisht

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Meera Vashisht performing Bharatanatyam

Meera Vashisht, student of Guru Rathna Kumar performing at her Arangetram on August 3, 2018. Photos by Murali Santhana.

Meera Vashisht, student of Guru Rathna Kumar performing at her Arangetram on August 3, 2018. Photos by Murali Santhana.

By Sanchali Basu
Arangetram is the first formal solo performance of a student in the Indian classical Bharatanatyam style of dance. Meera Vashisht, the pride and joy of parents Sunanda and Ashu Vashisht created a memorable evening on August 4, at the Kaplan Theater with her Arangetram performance. The presence of several dignitaries made the evening more special.
Guests were greeted with unique appetizers catered by Sunil Srivastava of Verandah by W’kana during the social hour. The program started with brief introductory remarks by mother Sunanda, introducing emcee Vasundhara Kambhampati. Meera made an immediate connection with the audience with Gajanana Gajamukham when she paid obeisance to the God of auspicious beginnings, elephant-faced Lord Ganesha. She showed her prowess in execution of complex rhythmic sequences set to varying patterns with her next dance, Jatiswaram.
Congressman, Pete Olson praised Meera for upholding Indian culture and art through her dance. Varnam, the longest, most important and demanding dance of the repertoire, was a Sri Rama Vandana performed effortlessly with tremendous poise and grace, reflecting her long hours of practice. Her mastery of Abhinaya (expression through hand, face, body gestures and mime) brought the entire story of the destruction of the demons, Rama’s marriage to Seeta and the victory over Ravana to life.
CGI Dr. Anupam Ray congratulated Meera for achieving this milestone and lauded Guru Rathna Kumar for her untiring, relentless work in training and producing dancers of the highest quality over a long period of 43 years. Madhav Madan Murari, the next item was dedicated to Lord Krishna, where his playful and all merciful nature were depicted through enacting several key incidents of his life. Gale Bhujang, followed, praising the Lord of Dance, Nataraja, with a snake around his neck, the moon and Ganga adorning his matted locks, trident held aloft in one hand and his beloved consort Parvati by his side.

Meera Vashisht in another graceful pose.

Meera Vashisht in another graceful pose.

Meera Vashisht's captivating Abhinaya!

Meera Vashisht’s captivating Abhinaya!

Vedantist Joseph Emmett complimented Meera on her accomplishment. Two of Meera’s friends spoke very highly of Meera’s passion and dedication towards dance. Guru Rathna Kumar emotionally expressed her satisfaction, joy and fulfillment in training the exceptionally talented, sincere Meera. She applauded that despite her roots being in Northern India, Meera had no difficulty in mastering the South Indian dance form. She awarded Meera her graduation certificate. The musicians, vocalist N. N. Sivaprasad, flautist B. Muthukumar, mridangam player N. K. Kesavan, Guru Rathna Kumar, teacher Venugopal Josyula, lighting director Seetha Ratnakar, makeup artist Beth Hardin were given tokens of appreciation.
Meera thanked her parents, Guru, family members who had traveled long distances, the emcee, helpers and well-wishers. Sunanda was also very emotional in expressing her gratitude towards Rathna, and all her friends who helped out in every way possible.
In Jaya Durge, Meera demonstrated skillfully the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo-headed Mahishasura. The Tillana that ensued was a beautifully descriptive unusual composition about Krishna and the Gopis. The concluding Mangalam was an offering of grateful homage to God, Mother Earth, the Guru and the musicians. The recital was followed by a sumptuous dinner for the guests.

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