Exploring divinity through dance: 'Hari-Hara' recital by Meenakshi Chitharanjan in Chennai

Dancer Padma Shri Meenakshi Chitharanjan and her disciples are all set to perform Hari-Hara, a dance recital celebrating Lord Vishnu and Shiva
Exploring divinity through dance: 'Hari-Hara' recital by Meenakshi Chitharanjan in Chennai

‘‘It is the amount of effort one puts in that makes a performance look natural. And that is a beautiful thing to watch,” says popular dancer Padma Shri Meenakshi Chitharanjan, who along with her disciples are all set to perform the dance recital, Hari-Hara. As the name suggests, the theme revolves around Hindu deities , Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.

Exploring divinity through dance: 'Hari-Hara' recital by Meenakshi Chitharanjan in Chennai
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The Bharatanatyam rendition will explore the beauty and avatars of Vishnu on one side and Shiva’s attributes and magnificence on the other, purely through abhinayas (expressions). “ None of the characters will dress like Lord Vishnu or Shiva, but they will embody their characteristics through art, without the paraphernalia of costumes or sets. The special effects will be provided through music and the lighting,” says Meenakshi, describing the performance.

Reflecting on the challenges she faced during the preparatory stages, she highlighted time constraints and synchronisation as significant hurdles that they had to overcome to craft this intricate piece. “When asked for advice on how to perform well, my teacher used to say, ‘Just do these three things well, first practice, then practice and again practice,’” reminisces Chitharanjan, stressing on the point that there is no shortcut to the same.

“Only when you have the muscle memory, you can add a touch of a smile here and a movement there, to embellish the performance,” she adds. Meenakshi also stresses upon the importance of confidence in her students. “The audience does not know where the mistake is unless you point it out and make it obvious to them. A performer who has the confidence to finish the Tha thi kita thom, despite making mistakes, will do well in the dance form.”

Meenakshi maintains that Bharatanatyam is a performing art and no amount of practice in the classroom can replace the exposure one gets on stage, which is why she organises such recitals every year. With skyrocketing prices and cutthroat competition in the dance form, it has become more and more difficult to find avenues to express one’s talent. So what message she hopes to convey through the performance? “I just wish that when the audience sees the performance, they understand the essence of what we have strived to produce, and attain a sense of satisfaction and happiness that they have seen something good,” she signs off.

Exploring divinity through dance: 'Hari-Hara' recital by Meenakshi Chitharanjan in Chennai
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Tickets from INR 200 onwards. 7.15 pm. June 29.At Mylapore Fine Arts Club

Story by S Shruthi Darshini

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