The full-length bharatanatyam dance production,“Yaatra: A Journey,” presented by Nirupama Vaidhyanathan and 18 of her students, will premiere in Palo Alto. The program will feature exciting group and solo choreography. Talented artists Asha Ramesh, Vidya Balan, Shanti, and Narayanan will provide live musical accompaniment.
This thematic presentation will showcase traditional and contemporary themes. The program opens with a traditional invocatory piece that leads viewers into the precincts of a temple. The life’s journey of Nandanar, an untouchable, will be portrayed to show how true devotion triumphs over all odds. His journey to reach Chidambaram, the famous Nataraja temple, portrays the inner strength that helped him face societal injustice. Tirupathi, India’s most famous temple, which attracts more than 100,000 pilgrims daily, is showcased through a song that describes the trek through hilly terrain for many devotees.

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In the second half, secular journeys are explored. A contemporary woman poet Sujatha Vijayaraghavan’s entreaty to what has largely been a human journey of apathy toward the environment is showcased. The program ends with a rhythmic finale choreographed to demonstrate the path taken by every dancer who pursues this art with a passion. Rhythmic sequences have been set to demonstrate movements starting from the simple to the most complex structures.

Sankalpa’s artistic director, Nirupama Vaidhyanathan teaches the art form with a deliberate emphasis on fostering excellence. This emphasis has been rewarded and acknowledged repeatedly. Her students have placed first three years in a row in the classical dance competition conducted by OSAAT. They have also been selected to perform at the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana’s Annual dance competition, and for Yuva Bharati.

Vaidhyanathan says, “In teaching bharatanatyam within the immigrant community, I feel a greater sense of responsibility in keeping a traditional approach intact. Also, in choreography, I aim to present innovative ideas using the grammar and structure of traditional bharatanatyam.”

A recent review published in the Hindu in Chennai, India, commented, “Her bharatanatyam style spelt poise in all aspects of her dancing technique—from the perfect elbow to perfect lines to precise footwork and expressions.”
Audiences can look forward to journey along with the dancers during this production, which will showcase complex rhythmical patterns and themes.

Saturday, Sept. 11, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Cubberley Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. $15, $25. (510) 573-3586, (510) 623-7950, (510) 573-4787. sankalpadance@yahoo.com.

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