Melbourne Art & Culture: Natya Expounded

Dr. Pamaja Suresh’s recent trip to Melbourne had a lot to offer.
“Rasaanubhava – the art experience” was an Indian classical dance production that featured renowned dance exponent, researcher and choreographer from India, Dr.Padmaja Suresh.

The evening showcased students of the Sindhubhairavi Centre for Indian Arts and Culture. The students presented a beautiful composition in praise of the deity Ganapati, followed by hand gestures and the five patterns of rhythm known as Pancha nade. Chandana Brijesh, a senior disciple of Dr. Padmaja Suresh, presented Guru Vandana. The vocal and veena support was by Smt. Uthra Vijay and Sri. Seshadri Varadarajan.

The hallmark of the evening was the captivating performance of Dr. Padmaja who enthralled the audience with her presentation of a ‘Varna’ in praise of Lord Venkateshwara and the Ardhanaareshwara Ashtakam.

Another highlight of her trip was a thought-provoking session on “Yantra Mantra and Tantra: Decoding Natya”. This session was very enlightening for not just Bharatanatyam but any Indian classical art lover. Speaking about the value of Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra, Abhinav Gupta’s Tantraloka and the sacred texts of Vedas, Dr. Padmaja explained the spiritual roots in all Indian classical art forms.

The lecture demonstration was started by a small ‘Kriti’ by Agastya Muni, “Om Gan Ganpataye namo namah”. Chandana Brijesh presented Ardhnareshwara and at the end of the session Dr. Padmaja presented another piece by Agastya Muni, “Sri Chakra Raja Simhasaneshwari”, praising the mother Goddess in Aadi Taal.

In conversation, she reiterated that, “Dance happens in the inner deep chambers, with disconnect from the world. Each dancer should try to connect with the highest supreme, the ‘Chaitanya Atma Shakti’ or the pure consciousness.” She added that, “As dancers we need to understand that we should remember the Mahavakyas or the great sayings such as ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ or ‘Tatvamasi’ to reach the highest chakkras, where dancer and dance are not distinct.” She concluded, “Art is timeless and spaceless, it is beyond each one of us and as dancers we must remember that.”

(Sanchita Abrol)