Bharatanatyam dance ballet – Radhe…Radhe… – A Story of Love for the Supreme – presented in Pearland, TX on March 15 by Global Organization for Divinity in commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Houston Namadwaar Prayer House, was filled with superb performances by the dancers and outstanding music; but what really set it apart was the inherent ambiance of devotion and divinity. It was not a mere dance performance, but a prayer and an offering of bhakti.
What else could it be when the whole premise of the dance was based on the compositions of a saint whose songs are outpourings of his divine love?
The evening’s program commenced with young star Kruthi Bhat’s soulful rendition of a prayer song on Sri Radha – “Bhava bhaktim dehi me Sri Radhe” – composed by His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji.
The stage for the dance was further set perfectly with an introductory video message specially recorded for the occasion by Sri Swamiji. As the curtain opened, and the stirring music began with the rendition of Kalaye Sundarakaram dhyana sloka, it was time for the audience to be transported to the beautiful world of Brindavan, filled with the incomparable love of the Gopis.
The dance portrayed the love of Sri Radha Rani for Lord Krishna, through the classical music compositions of Sri Swamiji. Starting from Sri Radha Rani’s birth in Barsana, the ballet depicted her love for Sri Krishna in the different stages of her life. Sri Swamiji mentioned in his introduction that three stages of Sri Radha’s bhakti are spoken of – Prema Madhuri (love), Viraha Madhuri (yearning) and Milana Madhuri (union). These three stages and the unspeakable greatness of Sri Radha’s love were portrayed in the dance ballet through the beautiful songs of Sri Swamiji.
Surabi Veeraragavan, Houston danseuse and disciple of Smt. Padmini Chari, was amazing as Sri Radha Rani. Her beautiful, expressive face clearly conveyed the emotions of Sri Radha Rani – be it a joyous love for Sri Krishna, admiration of Him, intense yearning for Him, the bliss of being in His presence, intense pangs of separation from Him or being One with Him in heart, mind and soul.
Shubha Soman, another student of Smt. Padmini Chari, stood out wonderfully in the role of Lord Krishna and Maya Iyer, also a disciple of Smt. Padmini Chari, was excellent in many roles including that of Lord Gopeshwara (Shiva) and Uddhava Swami. Every one of the other dancers – Anu Nagasimha (disciple of Smt. Indrani Parthasarathy), Akila Raman, Kavya Rajan, Nisha Gosar, Roopa Nagarajan (disciples of Smt. Padmini Chari) and Suwetha Kalyan from Dallas (disciple of Smt. Vani Iswara) – who played numerous roles, including that of the exalted Gopis, of Vrishabhanu and Kalavati Devi, and more, were impeccable in their dancing and expressions. 11-year-old Nrithi Subramanian (disciple of Priya Murali) from Minneapolis needs a special mention for her absolutely delightful portrayal of little Radha’s refusal to eat unless she saw the moon!
The music for the entire production was indeed the source of divinity for the program. Houston artiste Uma Ranganathan’s nectarine renditions of Sri Swamiji’s krithis left the audience spellbound. Uma was also the production’s music director, who composed the entire background music score and dance jathis, and also lent her voice for the narration. The recording for the production was done in Chennai, India and was accomplished with the help of a group of very talented instrumentalists – Sri Ganapathyraman (mridangam), Sri Ananthakrishnan (violin), Sri Devaraj (flute), Sri Mudikondan Ramesh (veena) and Sri Shankarraman (keyboard). Sri Karthik Jnaneshwar was the male vocalist. Sri Janakiraman was the music coordinator whose work was invaluable to the project, and Sri Radhakrishnan was the sound engineer responsible for bringing the whole production together.
After the event, Smt. Thara Narasimhan, secretary of Hindus of Greater Houston, applauded G.O.D.’s efforts and said, “Music is the most integral part of dance. Sri Muralidhara Swamiji’s songs and sound vibrations reverberate in one’s ears not just for the sound and notes, but for the inner meaning of the words. Without music there is no dance, and there’s no dance without love and devotion. Today we witnessed both music and dance that was outstanding!… I congratulate all the dancers, musicians and all those responsible for this production that was made locally by Houston!”
The event was supported by a City of Pearland Cultural Arts Grant program from the City of Pearland Convention & Visitors Bureau. Among the dignitaries who were present and enjoyed the program were Mayor Tom Reid of Pearland city, Mayor Delores Martin of Manvel city, Ms. Kim Sinistore, Executive Director of Pearland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Ms. Naomi Stevens, President of Pearland Arts League, Smt. Thara Narasimhan, secretary of Hindus of Greater Houston and proud dance gurus Smt. Padmini Chari and Smt. Indrani Parthasarathy whose students performed on stage. The event was attended by over 400 people from different cultures, from all around the Greater Houston area and also from other parts of USA including Boston, California, Minneapolis and Dallas.
Before the dance program commenced that evening, Global Organization for Divinity honored two nonprofits – Forgotten Angels and Adult Reading Center – with supplies donations, following its annual tradition of honoring local nonprofit organizations in commemoration of Namadwaar Prayer House’s anniversary celebrations. Global Organization for Divinity USA also announced its plans to begin new construction at the Houston Namadwaar Prayer House this year, in order to be able to serve the community better.