Naama Sankirna - masterpieces of the Dhananjayans

On 31 March 2024, at the Teach Auditorium of the Spastic Society at Taramani, Chennai two alumni of Bharata Kalanjali, K Sarveshan and Divya Sivasundar, presented a dance performance with an attempt to showcase select masterpieces of their gurus, the Dhananjayans.

The opening item was Nandichol, composed by Ramesh Babu with dance choreography by Shanta Dhananjayan and the late Rajesh Balakrishnan during the 1990s, in raga Rishbapriya and khanda Chapu tala. It is a purely rhythmic piece, well performed by Sarvesh and Divya.


This was followed by Ganesa sabdam, lyrics and natya composed by the Dhananjayans and music by vidwan K Rajashekaran. This is a vintage Bharata Kalanjali choreography, first performed in 1975, and is so popular that it is still being performed widely by students. Depicting the stories of Ganesa, it was well-communicated through simple and suggestive facial expressions by Divya and Sarveshan.

Next was the central piece, Nrityopahaaram, in Karaharapriya raga and Adi tala, first composed in 1978. Music by Tenmadam Narasimhachari, a contemporary of Tyagaraja. and dance choreography by the Dhananjayans. The essence of this item is the concept of the power of Rama nama, the Advaita philosophy that puts forth the concept of one god as against the practice of worshipping multiple gods. The conversion of sage Valmiki from a hardened dacoit into a poet is most interesting and awaited ever ytime this choreography is performed. 

The main item was followed by two solo performances, a Ninda Stuti in Surati raga Roopaka tala by Sarvesan and a Purandaradasa kriti by Divya. Music composed by Marimutha Pillai depicts a devotee questioning Lord Siva’s indifference to His devotee. Divya then continued the recital with a Purandaradasa kriti. Murali Parthasarathy’s rendition of this bhakti-laden song and Divya's emotions were in perfect sync.


Divya and Sarveshan concluded with a Nrityaangaharam in raga Kannada in Sankirna tala. Music by Vidwan Delhi Gopalakrishnan of AIR choreographed in 1984, was a garland of myriad nritta patterns.

The performance ended with Maithreem bhajatha, a famous hymn, as the mangalam.

The orchestra comprised Shanta Dhananjayan on the nattuvangam, with Murali Parthasarathy on vocal, Ramesh Babu on the mridangam, Kalaiarasan on the violin, Sunil Kumar on flute, and Ananthanarayanan on the veena. A senior disciple of the Dhananjayans, Pushkala Gopal, who spoke during the intermission, praised the dedication of the artists and the apt light design of Satyajit Dhanajayan

The Teach Auditorium is an ideal venue for such intimate performances. It is compact, and without any outside disturbances, and even though not air-conditioned, it has good acoustics.