‘Rangapravesam’ a Sanskrit word, literally means ‘entering the stage’, a milestone in the life of a stage performing artist. On August 15, 2015 the audience at the Meadowvale Theatre witnessed one such milestone- classy and enthralling – by Joshini Joseph under the training and guidance of her Guru Smt. Mala Pisharody, the Associate Director, Adishankara Academy of Performing Arts – ASAPA, Mississauga, Ontario.Aptly titled ‘Bharathamohanam’, Joshini’s Rangapravesam was both in Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam. An Honours student, Joshini Joseph started her intensive training in Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam under Smt. Mala Pisharody when she was eleven years old.
The evening started with Joshini offering her Obeisance to the Almighty, her Guru, her parents, Orchestra and Audience. The welcome note was given by Shri Rajesh Pisharody who is the Founding Director of Adishankara Academy of Performing Arts. The opening Invocation was a Ganapathy Stuthi in praise of Lord Ganapathy followed by the Alarippu a piece that is based on intrinsic dance foot patterns and hand gestures. Joshini continued her performance with an interesting Mary Sthuthi in praise of Mother Mary, highlighting the birth of baby Jesus.Joshini then performed the traditional Jathiswaram. This was followed by a traditional Shabdam. Joshini’s expressions, intricate leg work and captivating eye movement kept us glued to our seats.
The orchestral ensemble comprised of renowned and seasoned artists, Shri Babu Parameswarn, the vocalist from California, Jayadevan Nair on the violin, Mala Pisharody – Nattuvangam, Sriram Suryanarayanan on the percussion instrument, the Mridangam and Mohan Ariyath on the Edaykkya a unique percussion instrument of Kerala in India.
The Varnam, a piece de resistance of a Bharatanatyamrepertoire show cased Joshini’s superlative grace, vigor and expressive brilliance in Nritha and Abhinayam. It was a dedication to Lord Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer for whom the whole universe is a stage. Here the dancer highlighted the well-known episodes of the life of two staunch disciples of Lord Shiva, Markandaya and Nandanar. Shiva is depicted here as the vanquisher of evil and one who always blesses all his devotees.
The performance post interval brought in a different experience, taking us to the shores of Kerala, the land of Parashurama. Mohiniyattamis a very unique art form of Kerala well known for its sway and very curvilinear movements. The pieces that followed were rendered in equal brilliance, with the opening piece, a Cholkkettu which was a combined effort of Smt. A.P.Saraswathy (Mala Pisharody’s mother), a Sanskrit Scholar, Mala Pisharody and Shri Babu Parameswaran. The Padam that followed was a well-known composition of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal the King of Travencore, in which the heroine pines to be reunited with her Beloved Lord Padmanabha. This was rendered by Joshini with precision and flawless expression.
The Dashavatharam or the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu were portrayed through the very famous slokam from the Geetha Govindam of Mahakavi Jayadeva. Joshini’s depiction of each Avatar, be it the ferocity of Narashima, the strength of Vamana or playfulness of Krishna were portrayed in the choreography to touch the heart of even the youngest in the audience. It took many to another time and space.The choice of the composition,Vande Matharam was a special way to celebrate August 15th, India’s Independence Day, it shone light on Mala’s astounding creativity of entwining the traditional with the current. The Thillana is usually the finale in an Indian Classical dance repertoire of both art forms of Bharathnatyam and Mohinyattam and the Mala’s choreography of this piece brought out Joshini’s mastery of abhinaya and nritha. The evening’s recital ended with the Mangalam seeking the blessings of the divine.
The performance was a culmination of a journey, of Joshini’s years of dedicated practice, augmented by her family’s support and her Guru, Mala’s commitment to the art. Mala Pisharody and Rajesh Pisharody, the Artistic Directors of the Adishankara Academy of Performing Arts, Mississauga, Ontario, awarded the Institution Certificate to Joshini Joseph conferring the title “Natyakusumam” to Joshni, in recognition of her commitment to Indian Classical Dance. Mary Ashok, Managing Director of Dancing Damsels Inc, seamlessly took the audience through the entire program as its MC while the well-known Stage and Lighting Director, Bradley Trenaman, brought the stage alive with his aesthetic lighting. The performance concluded with Joshini thanking everybody who was involved in the performance as well as the audience that included renowned senior dance choreographers Janak Khendry, Lata Pada and Anuradha Jagannathan and well-known Indian dance & music teachers/performers, Sujatha Suresh Sujatha Ganesh, Preetha Kandanchatha, Roshini Ambat, Harikishan Nair, and Sandhya Shrivatsan, all based in Ontario.
Mala’s stunning Choreography, the orchestra’s impeccable musical renditions and Joshini’s exquisite dance performance presented the audience with an evening of Bharathamohanam that has set the bar even higher for the patrons of the Indian Classical Art.
Reported by: Kavitha Ariyath