Dr. Sheela Unnikrishnan has conceptualised and formatted thematic presentations closely resembling the traditional Margam format. Sridevi Nrithyalaya’s sought- after thematic presentations include:
LEELA TARANGA MARGAM
‘Leela Taranga Margam’ is Sridevi Nrithyalaya’s first ever thematic presentation that is based on compositions penned in Sanskrit.
Saint Narayana Teertha(1675- 1745), an ascetic and Sanskrit scholar from Andhra region, was an ardent devotee of Parandhama. His spontaneous, devotional outpurings on the Lord forms his masterpiece, ‘Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini’, which is a cohesive compilation of 12 chapters comprising of 153 songs, 302 slokams and 31 choomikas, known as Tarangams.
These compositions intrinsically weave episodes of Krishna’s birth, His pranks, Raasa Leela with Gopikas and conclude in all its grandeur with the description of Rukmini Kalyanam. The word ‘Tarangam’ means waves and our ‘Leela Taranga Margam’ surges with stories from ‘Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini’.
Having chosen apt slokams from the compilation, sewing them to form a systemized Margam and choreographing this presentation, our Teacher, Smt.Sheela Unnikrishnan’s attempt at handling the scholarly compositions of Saint Narayana Teertha in the Bharathanatyam style, we believe, is a maiden endeavour with experimental exploration of the art form.
PARAM – THE ULTIMATE
This thematic presentation involving a group of dancers surrenders to the Primordial, All- pervasive, Ultimate Cosmic energy. Symbolising the idea of Purusha and Prakriti- the static and kinetic forces, the Union of which causes the Creation, Sustenance and Destruction of the Universe, this production comprises of compositions hailing Siva and His consort, Shakti.
Beginning with a vibrant Pushpanjali followed by a Keertanam on the Primordial sound ‘Om’, the Margam moves on to a Swarajathi that highlights the growing stages of Goddess Meenakshi, akin to the traditional “Pillai Thamizh” of Tamil Literature. The central piece of the presentation is a Varnam on Lord Shiva who bestows His devotees with Ultimate Liberation, following which is a classic composition of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar on Ardhanareeswara epitomising the Ultimate Nature of Purusha and Prakriti.
To become one with the Ultimate, the paths can be multiple, but the destination remains one. If surrendering to the Lord with Bhakti is one way to reach Him, longing for Him with love and intoxication is no less a way. This production features a soothing Padam, ‘Theruvil Vaarano’ soaked in Sringaram, following which is a power- packed composition of Mahakavi Bharathiyar which depicts the gory dance of Maha Kali during the time of Apocolypse.
The production concludes with a joyous Thillana that glorifies the Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Universal Energy. Music for this presntation has been composed by Dr. Kuldeep M Pai.
This is yet another maiden attempt by the Nrithyalaya in projecting the rich beauty of Tamizh culture and literature. Some couplets from the magnum opus ‘THIRUKURAL’ of Thiruvalluvar have been carefully selected and formatted into a Bharathantyam Margam with a Pushpanjali, Swarajathi that highlights the importance of rain, Varnam that throws light on the varied sentiments in a human’s life, a Padam that brings out the beauty of love between the lover and the beloved, a captivating and colourful Pinnal Kolattam which is a traditional folk dance of Tamil Nadu and concludes with a vibrant Thillana.
This production was premiered on the occasion of ’Semmozhi Maanadu’ spearheaded by former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Karunanidhi. Music has been scored by Vidwan Sri G. Srikanth.
SRI KRISHNA MANJARI
A Bharathanatyam Margam beginning with an invocation, moving on to a Kauthvam, Varnam, Padam, Keertanam and a Thillana, this repertoire celebrates the ever- charming stories of Krishna. Lyrics for this production has been penned by Sri Kadhalmathi.
SRI RAMACHANDRAM BHAVAYAMI
This presentation has been set in the format of a Margam, encapsulating the epic, Ramayana. Beginning with a vibrant Pushpanjali, the presentation moves on to a Kauthvam that describes the curse of Dasaratha. The Sabdam brings to light the birth and growth of Rama and the Varnam projects the various episodes of Ramayana, depicting the various Rasas inherent in Rama’s epic. The Padams delve into the Sundara Khaandam canto of Ramayana and the Thillana joyously concludes with the celebration of Sri Rama’s Maha Pattabhishekam. Lyrics have been written and music composed by Keyboard Vidwan Sri Venkatasubramanian.
Ramayana – the ancient story of Sri Rama, is a divine epic that is worshipped with great reverence in every household that follows our Sanathana Dharma. Valmiki composed Ramayana in Sanskrit which later was translated, retold and remade in various forms like poetry, dance, drama etc., not only in Indian languages but also foreign.
Arunachala Kavi, one among the Trinity who patronised Tamizhisai belongs to the 18th century. Following Kamba Ramayanam, Arunachala Kavi composed his ‘Rama Natakam’ in Tamizh. Sri Kodhanda Rama Iyer and Sri Venkatarama Iyer, both disciples of Arunachala Kavi, composed music for all the poems in Rama Natakam and popularised their Guru’s work. Rama Natakam is praised for its aesthetic and simplistic literature content.
Dr. Smt. Sheela Unnikrishnan has chosen songs from Rama Natakam that will suit the Margam format of a Bharathanatyam repertoire. Though the music for Rama Natakam is readily available, Sri G. Srikanth has sung few numbers in chosen ragams to suit best for dance presentation.
This thematic presentation begins with a Pushpanjali, followed by a Keertanam that sings the praise of the story of Ramayana. The Kauthvam that follows next speaks about the omens that precede the birth of Sri Rama who was none other than the Supreme incarnate. The central piece delineates the episodes from Ramayana and the following Padam is a famous composition of Arunachala Kavi, ‘Yaaro ivar Yaaro’ that projects the first meeting of Sita and Rama in Mithila. The production also features songs in the voices of characters such as Surpanakha and Jatayu and concludes with a power- packed piece that dramatises the war between Rama and Ravana.
Sri Sivaa – this is the 998th name of Sri Lalitha Maha Tripura Sundari in Sri Lalitha Sahasra Nama Sthothram that is told by Sri Hayagreevar to Sage Agasthiar in the concluding part of Sri Brahmanda Puranam.
The Namam ‘Sri Sivaa’: Sri (title of veneration) + Sivaa means one who is identical to Lord Siva, the auspicious and unambiguous.
This thematic presentation venerates Mother Goddess in her various manifestations including that of the rustic Sengaali Amman, Saraswathi, Sri Rajarajeshwari, Maha Tripurasundari, Maha Lakshmi, Shakti, Parvathi.
This production which has been designed in the format of a Bharathanatya Margam delineates the story line of the world famous Tamil epic- Silappadigaram written by Ilangovadigal.
Comprising of a vibrant Mallari, Keertanam, Kauthvam, Sabdam, Varnam, Padam, Aaichiyar Koothu and a Thillana, this Margam gradually unfolds the Classic story of Kannagi, Kovalan and Madhavi- the central characters of the epic.
As the title of the production suggests, this presentation is one that glorifies the two important women of Tamil Classic Literature- Kannagi and Madhavi.