This weekend's lec demo
“Geetam Vadyam Tatha Nrityam Trayam Sangeet Muchyate” - Sarangadeva’s Sangeetha Ratnakara
The last ICAPS event of the year is typically a lecture demonstration. We wrapped up the fifth season with Sri Vijay Ganesh’s interactive lec-demo about the differences in the way the music is rendered and accompanied for kutcheries and dance programs. This lecture-demo seems to be an example of Sarangadeva’s definition of sangetham: singing, instruments, and dance together form sangeetham. I feel very blessed because Vijay sir asked me to dance as part of the demo, along with vocal by Sri Vignesh Nurani Subramanian from Maryland. My mother and guru, Smt. Sarada Jammi, conducted nattuvangam.
It ended up being a very fun, interactive discussion between the audience and those on stage. There was definitely an element of surprise, since we did not rehearse together prior to the demo.
Here were some highlights for me:
Vijay sir overlaying Vignesh’s singing of “Bala Kanaka Maya” with the bols for what he would play on the mridangam was just great. I was struck by the specific choice he made for when the phrase “vidrutha sharajaala” was sung, which sounded like arrows being fired. (“Vidrutha sharajaala” means “wielder of arrows”.)
The exhibition of how to play mridangam as an accompaniment, as well as how not to play was extremely enlightening. For example, he would play once highlighting the song. The second time in way that was aligned with the tala, but agnostic to what Vignesh was singing.
When I was asked to re-do the sanchari part for “Bala Kanaka Maya,” I know the intent was to highlight the specific choices that Vijay sir makes as a mridangist accompanying dance, but it was also demonstration of the growth that happens as artists work with each other. My own execution had much more clarity the second time, and both Vijay sir and Vignesh spoke about how they were anticipatory and better able to choose their flourishes to highlight the story I was presenting.
I was very grateful for all the rigor Dr. Anupama Kylash put us through in her tala course when I made a mistake in the jaathulu portion of the thillana and adjusted on the fly. So, very grateful for all the practice we’ve been doing.
The discussion centered on Tyagaraja’s Balakanakamaya was the centerpiece of the demo, I think. It was a very in-depth presentation - the edited down version is about 45 minutes long, but if you open the video in YouTube, the timestamps for the different sections of the demo are listed in the description.
We ended with a thillana in Behag ragam by Sri Ponniah Pillai of the Thanjavur Quartet. You can watch that below (under 10 minutes).
I have to give my respects to my guru and my mother, Smt. Sarada Jammi (Founder and director of Sri Sai Dance Academy). Without her, I would not be. I want to also thank my beloved Bhanu Aunty (Smt. N. N. V. Satyabhanu, director of Sri Siddhendra Yogi Kalanilayam) and Dr. Sumithra Velury of University of Silicon Andhra for their support and guidance as I prepared for this event.
Thank you to the Richmond community of artists, art lovers, teachers, and our wonderful photographer Steve. It was wonderful seeing each and everyone of you come, participate, and be so warm and encouraging after the program.
Also, thank you Kalya for the photos and Lakshmi Aunty for taking video!
Here’s to the next ICAPS series going as well as this year has.