Giving to Shiva

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I can hardly believe that I will soon be presenting my first full-length solo bharatanatyam recital in nearly nine years.
Frankly, I’m terrified of ascending the stage next month. I’ve started to have those I-fell-off-the-stage dreams again. My creaky limbs are about as thrilled with my daily pounding as I am with their pathetic excuse for an araimandi. Last week I caught myself signaling to a coworker “lunchtime” with nothing less than proper mudras and head movements.

7ca7e454b576eb8facb558e476f205be-2Call me crazy, but I still love it all. The fear, the pain, the doubts—they never outweigh the sheer elation I experience when I dance. Over the past couple of months, I have rekindled my passion, rediscovered my repertoire, and reinvented my dancer self. And it has been incredible.
My upcoming performance is a fundraiser for the Shiva Murugan Temple of Concord, which is very special to me. The temple has been instrumental in building up my confidence by providing me with umpteen opportunities to perform since my childhood. Now, I would like to give back.

I will open my performance with a kavuttuvam on Lord Muruga—a piece I learned when I was 8 years old. I performed this piece so many times as a child that I subconsciously labeled it a “baby piece” and never wanted to dance it again!  It is only now, so many years later, that I am able to appreciate anew the richness of this dance and the simplicity of Guru S.K. Rajarathnam Pillai’s choreography.

Other highlights include the exciting combination of swarams and crisp rupaka tala jathis in Bhavayami Raghuramam, a poignant piece about Nandanar (a great devotee of Lord Shiva), and a padam about a brazen (but endearing) nayika who is proud to be the king’s mistress.  The amazing live orchestral accompaniment by my guru Vidhya Subramanian, Asha Ramesh, N. Narayan, and Shanthi Narayan is a highlight in and of itself.

I am incredibly blessed to have Vidhya Aunty as my guru. She has helped me evolve at every stage with her insightful comments, which stem from her immense experience, and her unique ability to hone in on my particular strengths and weaknesses as a dancer. She inspires me with her vibrant dancing, innovative choreography, and above all, her passion.  Every single dance class with Vidhya Aunty is a humbling affirmation of how much I have yet to learn! My journey is lifelong, and I am in no hurry.

Nandita Sriram graduated from Stanford University with a degree in biomechanical engineering in 2009. She lives and works in the Bay Area. In addition to being a bharatanatyam dancer, Nandita is also a Karnatik vocalist and a Western classical violinst.
Saturday, May 1, 4 p.m. Visual and Performing Arts Center, De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. Free. (408)-997-6375.

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