It was not just a visual and auditory delight for the audience at ‘Navarasa,’ a dance drama by students of Yoganjali Natyalayam on Sunday, but also a way for the students to strengthen their own emotional quotient.
Performed annually as a Bharatanatyam dance drama on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri who established the Yoganjali Natyalayam, this year’s take on the nine human emotions draws from mythology, literature, philosophy and even a story from India’s freedom struggle.
“Navarasa is generally shown with Shiva, Vishnu or Krishna. This time, we wanted to showcase something that touches the pulse of the audience. It is a mix of old and new concepts, Vallalar traditions and literature,” said Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Chairman, Yoganjali Natyalayam, who has sung and given music for the performance. It has also been conceptualised, directed and choreographed by him.
Around 100 students of the institute participated in the event on Sunday.
Thus, ‘Veerya’ (valour) is presented on stage through the story of Tiruppur Kumaran who had laid down his life to defend the honour of the flag of the Indian freedom movement, explained Dr. Ananda.
Poet Bharathiar also finds a place in the dance drama as ‘Beebatsa’ (disgust) is depicted through his epic Panchali Sabatham where he comments on Yudhisthira losing his kingdom in a dice game in Mahabharata.
Shanta (peace) is shown through the meeting of Buddha with Angulimala where Angulimala attains inner peace. Kannagi’s story from Tamil epic Silapathikaram is used to depict Roudra (anger).
In showcasing Sringara (love) through the meeting of Ram and Sita in poet Kamban’s work Ramavataram, the importance is on the beauty of language, said Dr. Ananda.
“By practising and performing this dance drama, the stories become a part of the students’ subconscious. Dance is a way to sublimate anger, sorrow and other such emotions. It helps to build the emotional quotient (EQ). The students are able to relate with their emotions. It is called positive psychology in academics. Here, we are seeing a practical manifestation of it,” said Dr. Ananda.
Positive psychology definitely appears to be at work among the students of Yoganjali Natyalayam. Krishnaveni I., an instructional designer working in Bengaluru has been a student of Yoganjali Natyalayam for 13 years, and comes to Puducherry on weekends for her training with the institute. “Each time we put up a dance performance, there are many skills we acquire like crisis management, time management. I feel I have learnt life skills here and that our time here has led to personality development,” said Ms. Krishnaveni. For Sangavi J., a final year student of engineering, finding a common ground among artistes’ ideas is a skill she picked up here. “This is my second home as I have spent 16 years here,” said Ms. Sangavi.
Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Director, Yoganjali Natyalayam, said that dance is a lifestyle for the students.
“While many of our students become doctors, engineers and other professionals, the skills imparted here make them strong and develops their personality. The emphasis here is on teamwork. We believe in our theme, ‘from impossible to I am possible,” she said.