The dance of joy

Pavithra Srinivasan on her new production, ‘Ananda’, and drawing inspiration from Vedanta

Published - April 27, 2017 04:48 pm IST

Pavithra Srinivasan

Pavithra Srinivasan

“In the landscape of life

Through the brush of melody, mime, and movements

With tints and shades of colours of various experiences

to the highest happiest reality

I paint the journey of Ananda!”

No she isn’t a poet, neither a painter. She is a Bharatanatyam dancer and the first recipient of the Yuva Kala Bharathi title from Bharat Kalachar. Her life is surrounded byart, music and Vedanta. She enjoys pushing boundaries and has surmounted several obstacles, including a series of accidents, to pursue her passion.

“I am a jigyasu (a seeker) and it is my quest for knowledge pertaining to our shastras that keeps me going,” says Pavithra, as she begins the conversation with a melodious bhajan playing in the background.

Pavithra recently staged her new production, ‘Ananda — Happiness Limitless’, under the aegis of Shri Ariyakudi Music Foundation, in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relation’s Horizon programme at Raga Sudha Hall, Chennai. ‘Ananda’ tries to explore the many facets of human life and man’s constant search for happiness. “In other words, ‘Ananda’ is the essence of my experience of dealing with the realities of life; the need to view things from a spiritual aspect,” explains the dancer.

A disciple of the Dhananjayans, she draws inspiration from Itihasa, Puranas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. She brings into practise the Vedantic values while teaching at her dance school Arsha Kala Bharati. “I teach as much as I learn. There is so much to observe and assimilate.”

Blend of styles

‘Ananda’ is not based on the traditional margam, it is a blend of ideas and styles. The production begins with a piece on ‘Ananda in Existence’ set to Pt Ravi Shankar’s popular track ‘Mangalam’. Pavithra has chosen an Alaripppu in Chatusram to depict this. This is followed by the portrayal of how we find happiness in different ways, for instance the joy of true friendship is depicted through the ant and pigeon story (from her first production ‘Panchatantra’). Pavithra chose the Hanuman episode from her production ‘Sundara Kandam’ to show the happiness one feels over completing a task sincerely. To depict a happy married life, she has choreographed a piece based on a song by Sudha Ragunathan. ‘Thumaka Chalata’ rendered by Lata Mangeshkar has been chosen to depict the joy of parenting. The production also includes bhajans by Swami Dayananda Saraswati sung by Maharajapuram Santhanam.

In fact, Swamiji is the reason behind Pavithra’s interest in Vedanta. “My first encounter with him was in Saylorsburg, USA. During my brief stay there when I was also working in the IT sector, I spent the weekends with my family at Arsha Vidyalaya.”

Says Pavithra, who has also participated in Global Dharma Conferences and is the winner of the Yagnaraman Award of Excellence, “I am happy with my life. Contentment is a value, it does not mean being complacent. Dance is my duty; it is my prayer and I use all the resources that I have to entertain, educate and enlighten my audience through my art, which has been with me for decades now.”

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