Natya Anjali

An Evening of Traditional Indian Classical Dance


Natya Anjali is an evening of traditional Indian dance performances, featuring solos and duets by classical dancers from Stanford University. Performers render pieces from their personal repertoires, giving the audience a glimpse of these centuries-old dance styles in their most authentic form.


When: Friday 1 March 2013, 8pm

Where: Roble Theatre, Roble Hall (324 Santa Teresa Street, Stanford, CA 94305)

Admission: Free and open to the public

Parking: Free parking is available in front of the venue


Please see below for performer bios and a full programme!




1. Mallari

Ragam: Gambheera Natta, Talam: Khanda Triputa

Composer: M.S. Sukhi

Performers: Usha Srinivasan and Urmila Vudali

Mallari depicts a temple chariot procession called “ther”. The decorated chariot carrying the Utsava Murthy - a replica of the presiding temple deity - is drawn through the streets leading to the temple to the musical accompaniment of a pipe instrument called ‘Nadaswaram’ and a large drum called ‘Tavil’. Devotees adorn the chariot with flowers, and drag it with heavy ropes as it meanders through the streets of the temple town. Crowds along the route join in by lending a hand with the ropes, chanting and praying.

2. Thodayamangalam: Jaya Janaki Kantha

Ragam: Ragamalika, Talam: Talamalika

Composer: Sri Purandara Dasa

Choreographer: Adithi Venkat

Performers: Maya Balakrishnan and Tara Balakrishnan

The Thodayamangalam traditionally begins a performance, as it is when the dancers offer their prayers to god. This particular piece describes the glory of Lord Rama, the husband of Sita. Rama is the son of Dasaratha, and the one who killed the demon Ravana. The song describes him as having eyes like lotus petals, he is bright as the sun, and calm as the sea. He gives salvation to all those who seek him out.

3. Mahapranam Deepam

Singer: Shankar Mahadevan

Performer: Devika Patel

This dance depicts the strength and beauty of Lord Shiva: his curling hair, statuesque poses and beauty. The dancer praises Lord Shiva's many glorious attributes and displays her utmost devotion to him.

4. Kalinganarthanam

Ragam: Brindavani, Talam: Adi

Composer: Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna

Choreographers: Sandhiya Kalyanasundaram, Nitya Rajeshuni, Aparna Ananthasubramaniam

Performers: Nitya Rajeshuni, Aparna Ananthasubramaniam

A showcase of pure dance, this piece emphasizes intricate footwork, fast hand movements, and sculpturesque poses. The sahityam, or dramatic component, tells the story of Lord Krishna’s fight with the sea serpent Kaliya. One day, the young Krishna is up to his usual antics - conspiring with his friends, stealing butter from his mother’s kitchen, playing ball near a river - when his ball falls into the water. When he jumps in to get it, Kaliya attacks and coils around him; Krishna breaks free and subdues the snake by dancing on top of its head.

5. Javali: Nindranda Mayil

Ragam: semi-classical Revathi, Talam: Kanda Chapu

Composer: Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaier

Choreography: Srimathi Priyadharshini Govind

Performer: Maheetha Bharadwaj

This javali praises Krishna and his ability to simply mesmerize in moving object when he plays the flute: the bees stop sucking nectar, the deer stop eating the grass. Ultimately the message of the song is told by an ordinary narrator who encourages the villagers to just stop what they are doing in order to hear Krishna's flute. The narrator also claims that when listening to Krishna's flute, you mind doesn't wander unnecessarily.

6. Madu Meikkum Kanne

Ragam: Senjurutti/Chindu Mettu, Talam: Ekam

Performers: Usha Srinivasan and Urmila Vudali

This Tamil folk song paints a vibrant and humorous picture of a dialogue between a concerned mother Yashoda and her persistent son Krishna. Yashoda does not want Krishna to go out to graze the cows in the scorching mid?day sun. She tries to dissuade him -­ first bribing him with milk and honey and when that fails trying to scare him by conjuring images of vicious bandits and bloodthirsty beasts that lurk along his path to the meadows. When these fail to frighten the divine child, she invokes the other, absent parent. But Krishna has a comeback for every one of her arguments and is soon out the door!

7. Bho Shambho

Ragam: Revathi, Talam: Adi

Composer: Swami Dayanada Saraswathi

Choreography: Shree Sundaresh, with the blessings of Guru Padmashri Adyar Lakshman

Performer: Shree Sundaresh

This piece describes the beauty of Lord Shiva and His golden matted hair with the river Ganges flowing down it and the crescent moon on top as well as the snakes decorating Him like jewels. It depicts the story of Samudra Mathana in which the churning of the oceans by the Gods and Demons results in a poison that Shiva swallows to protect this world. It also depicts the story of how Manmatha (Cupid) was destroyed by Shiva's third eye upon interrupting his meditative trance.

8. Tandava Lasya

Ragam: Ragamalika, Talam: Talamalika

Composer and Choreography: Pt. V.J. Pillai

Performer: Aparna Ananthasubramaniam

This item depicts the eternal cosmic dance of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. They move in Tandava, the “vigorous” style, and Lasya, the “graceful” style. Eventually, the male and female aspects merge into one supreme being, representing the eternal cycle of creation, destruction and preservation and emphasizing the unity and duality of cosmos.

9. Thillana

Ragam: Paras, Talam: Adi

Performer: Nitya Rajeshuni

A traditional part of any Bharatanatyam recital, Thillanas are a showcase of pure dance. They emphasize intricate footwork, fast hand movements, and sculpturesque poses. This Thillana is in praise of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is taken from the traditional repertoire of the Kalakshetra School of Dance.

10. Kathak Pure Dance

Performers: Ritika Prasad (Kathak), Aditya Srivatsan (tabla)




Dancer Bios


Aparna Ananthasubramaniam has been studying Bharatanatyam for 13 years under Smt. Radhika Acharya of Troy, MI, who is a disciple of Pt. Venugopal Pillai. Aparna is a senior majoring in Mathematics, interested in its applications to the biological and social sciences, and and especially in how it can be used to inform policy decisions.

Maya Balakrishnan has been learning Bharatanatyam in the Seattle area for the past 13 years under Adithi Venkat and Joyce Paul. Currently a freshman at Stanford, Maya is interested in majoring in Symbolic Systems.

Tara Balakrishnan has been learning Bharatanatyam in the Seattle area for the past 13 years under Adithi Venkat and Joyce Paul. Currently a freshman at Stanford, Tara is interested in majoring in Computer Science.

Maheetha Bharadwaj: Ever since the age of five, Maheetha has been deeply involved in the fine arts, and dance has been no exception. She started learning Bharathanatyam when she was five, and ever since has been under the guidance of Padmashri Adayar K. Lakshman and Srimathi Sudha Srinivasan. After finishing her graduation in 2004 at the age of nine, Maheetha went on to becoming a performing artist in Bharathanatyam, giving solo concerts in India regularly during the Chennai December Dance and Music Festival Season; recently, she was invited to give an inaugural concert at Karthik Fine Arts. Maheetha has also completed her first year Associate's Degree in Indian Classical Dance. She was awarded the titles "Nrithya Bala Sri" and "Nrithya Bala Kamalam" for her achievements in Dance in 2006 and 2008. Back home in St. Louis, she also takes part in giving Lecture Demonstrations to students a part of cultural programs, and even today at Stanford continues to teach dance over Skype to students in St. Louis.

Devika Patel is a freshman at Stanford University, majoring in mechanical engineering. She has been dancing for 13 years under the instruction of Smt. Chandrakala Raghavan and performed her arangetram in 2008 under her tutelege. She has also learned Mohiniattam and Gujarathi folk dances. In addition to classical dancing, Devika performed with Shree Amruthakala Dance Academy in several big Indian dance competitions in the northeast.

Ritika Prasad is a sophomore majoring in Chemistry. She is from Bombay and started learning Kathak dance of the Jaipur Gharana at Stanford from Smt. Sayail Shetye Goswami to get back to her roots.

Nitya Rajeshuni has been studying Bharatanatyam for 15 years, first under Smt. Sindhuri Jayasinghe and subsequently under Smt. Paulomi Pandit of Kalakshetra. Nitya is a senior majoring in Biology, interested in pursuing a career in medicine, potentially as a specialist in pediatrics or as an OBGYN.

Usha Srinivasan and Urmila Vudali: Usha is an alumna of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She runs a management consulting practice specializing in new product introductions for media and entertainment companies. Urmila is nine years old and has been learning Bharatanatyam since she was five. She’s a fourth grader at One World Montessori in San Jose and hopes to attend Stanford one day. Urmila and Usha are students of Guru Vishal Ramani of Shri Krupa Dance Company in Cupertino. The mother-­daughter duo made their debut performance in September 2012.

Aditya Srivatsan, a freshman at Stanford University pursuing Bioengineering, has been learning Tabla for the past nine years from Guru Pandit Shantilal Shah, a much sought after Tabla teacher and accompanist and a disciple of Taal Yogi Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. At the recommendation of Pt. Shantilal Shah, Aditya had the opportunity to attend a Tabla workshop conducted by Ustad Zakir Hussain in August 2011 and 2012. He has also attended workshops with Pt. Suresh Talwalkar. Aditya won first place in the 2012 Cleveland Thyagaraja Music Festival for both the Tabla Solo and Accompaniment competitions. In addition to Tabla, he plays Western Classical violin.

Shree Sundaresh is a freshman at Stanford, undecided on her major but interested in medicine. Shree has been dancing for about 13 years under the tutelage of Padmashri Adyar Lakshman and Smt. Geeta Raaj Karkera, and performed her Arangetram in 2007.