Shastra Temple of Dance presented Pon Ambalam, a tribute for Navrathri

Smoke fills up the stage at Kalaiarangam, followed by the sound of salangais, as the dancers take up their positions. They are Archana Murali and her students from Shastra Temple of Dance who represent the forms of Durga for the Navratri Natyaradhana, “Pon Ambalam”.

As the tempo of the music builds up, the stage lights turn red and Archana Murali transforms into Mahishasura Mardini.

While the evening began with the traditional invocation to Lord Ganesha, the concert also had elements of fusion in it with elements of both western and Indian music. The flawless aramandi and perfect mudras of the five and six year olds were a treat to watch.

With a blend of Bharatanatyam and Odissi the dancers conveyed the lasya and the roudra bhavas.

During the performance of “Maathe malayadhwaja”, the structured postures of Bharatanatyam eased into the gentler movements of Odissi to describe the feminine grace of the goddess. Archana’s solo performance of Anandha Thandavam, the dance of Lord Shiva and Parvathy, used both Bharatanatyam and Odissi. Archana’s abhinaya, agile footwork and grace was a treat to watch.

The myths allowed the performers to use their abhinaya well. The last performance of the evening before the aarti, focused on the defining bhava of Shiva, anger. The faces of the dancers took on shades of ferocity as they depicted the god who dances with skulls in his hands and holds back the violent Ganga from flooding the world.

The bright and beaming faces of the children and the mastery of Archana over her art recreated the festive mood of Navratri in the hall. The two-hour long performance concluded with an aarti performed by Archana and her students.