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The nonprofit cultural organization, Sacramento Regional Association of Malayalees organized an online Bharatanatyam Competition, “SARGAM UTSAV- Season 3,” in May 2022 in which 114 contestants from across the nation and Canada competed. The competition was organized into four categories, based on age.
First, all the videos underwent a pre-screening round. Then, the top 10 finalists from each category proceeded to the final round of judgment from India’s eminent Bharatanatyam gurus. Three judges in the final round were chosen carefully to cover all generations and genres of Bharatanatyam. The final round judges for this competition were the renowned Bharatanatyam exponents from India, Guru Girija Chandran, Smt. Pavitra Bhat, and Dr. Sheela Unnikrishnan.
Smt. Bhavya Sujay led this event with tremendous help from four other dynamic ladies—Bini Mrudul, Selva Alengaden, Padma Praveen, and Sangeetha Indira. The emcees clearly explained the categories and numbers for easy transition of the viewers.
The subjunior category had such talent at despite their young ages. Akshath Piram, from Newark, Delaware, who won first place in this category, showed such technical perfection in adavus and footwork, with perfect expressions despite his tender age. It was a treat to watch this young Indian American boy nurturing an age-old art form.
The junior category had an equally tough competition among the top 10 contestants. Shivani Vishnu from ON, Canada, with her graceful expressions, secured Sargaprathibha (1st place) in this category.
In the senior category, dancers showcased more complicated items—Ananya Nair from MD, a disciple of Dr. Janaki Rangarajan, made masterfully soulful use of karanas and other elements to enhance the entire presentation.
California-based dancer, Devayani Varma, won in the adult category with her beautiful natural abhinayas.
It was a treat to watch talented young male dancers in this competition. Krishay Prasuj did not even place in the top three in his category. Yet, he won the audience’s heart with his perfect Pushpanjali. In the Senior category, Rahul was an absolute pleasure to watch. He was very graceful and had very clean mudras. Akhi Vadari from Seattle in this same category danced brilliantly, his hands moving effortlessly in the faster teermana adavus.
When the pandemic pushed everyone indoors, the havoc and confusion affected the performing arts heavily. Classical art lovers across North America were able to unite in their appreciation of this art, and support talented performers as they worked through the competition, and this was in no small part due to Sargam president Mr. Mrudul Sadanandan’s visionary leadership.
All the videos from this Bharatanatyam competition are up on YouTube: Sargam Sacramento.