|The temple when we visited it a couple of years ago The Nandi is on the right.|
There were many celebrations including an exhibition and the release of coins and stamps by the Government of Tamilnadu. But one that impressed me most was the getting together of a thousand Bharatanatyam dancers to perform at this venerated venue (on September 25). Chennai Doordarshan carried the programme live and so did the webcast from kutcheribuzz.com.
The dancers performed on the vast area around the huge Nandi. The area had been covered with coloured rugs/dhurries to form a kind of stage. I could spot among other well known performers Revathi Ramachandran, Srekala Bharat, actor Vineet, Narasimhachari and his wife Vasantalakshmi, and Swarnamalya. It was a tight squeeze for the thousand dancers, they barely had small squares of four feet to themselves. But how organised and disciplined they were, not moving out at all from their limited zones, but skilfully performing within their ambits.
It was Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, eminent Bharata Natyam dancer, who proposed the idea to mark the event thus. Who better? Dr. Padma’s research for Ph. D.was on the karanas (basic dance units of the Bharatanatyam) in the sculptures in the Thanjavur temple, the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram and the Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam. The Rajarajesvaram temple, as it was known earlier, has beautiful sculptures of 81 karanas (108 karanas form the alphabet of the Bharatanatyam) on the walls of the floor above the sanctum, which were rediscovered about forty years ago. Though space had been earmarked for the remaining 27 karanas, they were not sculpted.
Dr. Padma who was the the convenor, coordinator and organiser of the dance spoke of how the programme had taken form. She said that she had invited dancers by email and all of them had responded promptly stating their willingness to participate. Dr. Padma chose eleven verses from Tiruvisaippa, composed by Karuvur Thevar, the guru of Raja Raja Chozha, to be set to music. DVDs were made of the dances to be performed and sent to them. They practised following the DVDs. There was no rehearsal at all. To see them dance so harmoniously, one would never have guessed it.
All the dancers had come under their own steam, and each of them was rewarded with a pendant, with an engraving of the temple, strung on a pearl chain.
The compere who made the announcements was well-informed and well-read and his recital of some verses in Thamizh (of which my ignorance is abysmal) was impressive. He complemented Dr. Padma perfectly. Unfortunately I could not get his name. You can see him here with Dr. Padma from 25 seconds onwards.
Dr. Padma made a request to the Chief Minister. “Just as the great king Raja Raja Chozha inscribed the names of his 400 dancers on the temple walls, I request that the effort of the thousand dancers at the event marking the thousandth year celebration may also be inscribed on these walls.”
|From The Hindu|