Getting the next generation to appreciate and practise our classical arts seems to be the objective of many artists these days. The Kirans of Bengaluru too are among those who have chosen to tread that path. “We want classical dance to become as fashionable as other forms; we want to take Bharatanatyam to a whole new generation,” says Kiran Subramanyam, who along with wife Sandhya recently completed 25 years in the field.
Stemming from this need to expand the horizon of the art form comes their latest production titled, ‘Sampradaya: Rediscovering Traditions.’ To be presented by their Rasika Dance Ensemble, under the stewardship of Kiran with 15 dancers participating, the programme will be presented on December 9, 6.30 p.m., at the Narada Gana Sabha, under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts.
Talking about the concept, Kiran elaborates, “In a world that offers a million easy choices, how can one preserve the purity of content of one’s chosen form? How can classical dance find relevance in a contemporary society? We hope to answer such issues through Sampradaya.”
Kiran is sticking to Margam, while exploring and explaining traditional concepts. So the programme will be set in motion with ‘Aarambh’, which will serve as Chatusram Alarippu. “This piece will showcase every aspect of dance – from thattadavu, hasta bedham and griha bedham to viniyogas and the navarasas.”
Sandhya chips in, “The varnam is once again a classic – Dandayudhapani Pillai’s Purvikalyani ‘Samiyai varacholladi .’ Generally, this piece is performed as a solo, but we have tried to experiment with the format. So, you will see eight faces of the khandita nayika done by eight different dancers. Sringara rasa will find different interpretations.”
Another highlight will be dancing to the thani. “Sounds unusual? It is. Four groups will dance to rhythms played on the mridangam, ganjira and morsing besides konnakol. For the final kuraippu, the groups will come together for a grand finale.”
‘Maiyya mori main nahin makhan khayo,’ a popular bhajan, will be presented in drama. Sandhya elaborates, “It will be a dialogue between Yasoda and Krishna where the dancers on stage will be in full costume.”
Kiran and Sandhya, both students of Guru Padmini Ravi, have also trained under the Dhananjayans. They have performed at various fora - the SAARC meet, Pt. Ravishankar's music theatre ‘Ghanshyam’, the Hampi Utsav and the Spirit of Unity Concerts. “But coming to Chennai during the Season is always exciting, a high point. The audiences here are discerning and we feel privileged to be here.”
The Kirans' long-standing dream to articulate their vision is being shaped through their efforts to popularise the classical arts. “We are striving to make classicism relevant in a contemporary society. And this production is a step in that direction,” say the dancing duo.