Paying tribute through dance

With ultimate finesse and mystic moves,Shashikala Ravi will offer tribute to Thyagaraja,a 200-year-old South Indian saint and one of the greatest Carnatic musicians.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published:January 22, 2009 1:31 am

Offering homage to renowned Carnatic musician Thyagaraja,danseuse Shashikala Ravi will perform on some of his rare ragas

With ultimate finesse and mystic moves,Shashikala Ravi will offer tribute to Thyagaraja,a 200-year-old South Indian saint and one of the greatest Carnatic musicians. Performing dance pieces on some of his rare ragas Chittaranjani,Kannadagowla and Kamavardhini,a troupe of renowned Caranatic musicians comprising of a singer,mridangam player,nattuvangam,violinist and flautist from Mumbai will accompany her at the event organised by the Poona Sangeeth Sabha.

Speaking on her performance Shashikala says,”Thyagaraja is considered to be one of the trinities of Carnatic style of music. In his lifetime he contributed nearly 700 krithis to Indian music,most of them devoted to Lord Rama.” Presenting two Pancharatna Krithis that are considered as Thyagaraja’s masterpieces set in Ghana ragas like Nattai,Gowla,Arabhi,Varali and Sriraga,she says “Thyagaraja was a great musician and his ragas were not only beautiful but rare too. Chittaranjani and Kannadagowala are some of the unusual ones on which I will be performing.”

Ravi does not only hold an Alankar — a postgraduate degree — in Bharatnatyam,but has also learnt Abhinaya under Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayan and has performed in various countries like Greece,Germany and Srilanka. She feels that Indian classical dance has huge audiences world over. “My performance of Abhinaya in Greece was very much appreciated and the kind of response I got was overwhelming,” she says. Her performance on Nritya Sangam was also filmed in an Israeli television series The Next World. “India always stands apart from the rest of the world for its culture and we have a very rare and special tradition to show the world,” she adds.

Apart from the accolades she received world over she has also received Natya Ratna and Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Parishad awards. She is an empanelled artiste with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR),New Delhi and with India International Rural Cultural Centre (IRCEN),New Delhi. She is also a member of the International Dance Council (IDC),World Dance Alliance – Asia Pacific and Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India (ABHAI).

Ravi has been teaching Bharatanatyam for the last 15 years. She taught in Delhi for 7 years before moving to Germany and then Pune. “I belong to South so have a deep connection with the dance form,my mother is a vocalist singer,she is the one who introduced me to the art,” she says. Having disciples in India and abroad,Ravi feels that knowledge is something one should pass on. “You have to give your knowledge at one point of time,whatever you learn has to be given so that the young generation learns it,” she says. And while she strongly believes that the charisma of Indian classical dance and music is evergreen she also feels that people should not adulterate the traditional art forms.

(Shashikala Ravi will perform in the city at the Poona Sangeeth Sabha on January 25.)

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