Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust (SN OM Trust), in an effort to raise funds for the India based non-profitable eye institute Sankara Netralaya, conducted a mesmerizing Dance Festival in Atlanta, on November 16th, 2014. This dance festival featured a garland of fascinating mini ballets in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi styles and was presented by some of the most talented dancers from Atlanta. Atlanta’s famous Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center was the venue for this unique event.
The program consisted of 6 beautifully choreographed mini dance ballets. Dr. Ravi Sarma welcomed the donors and talked briefly about Sankara Nethralaya and the great eye care services provided by the same in India. Dr. Seshu Sarma introduced the Dance Ballet and welcomed the audience to the special invocation dance ballet “Swagatham”, beautifully choreographed by Bhavini Rajan of Samarpanam- School of Fine Arts. Sri Yellamraju, the MC for the evening, introduced the next dance ballet “Ganesha Pancharatnam”. Sri Maha Ganesha Pancharatnam was composed by Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the 8th Century. It is a sloka containing five passages on Lord Ganesha (Pancha) which are gems (Ratnam). Ganesha Pancharatnam was preceded by Mallari, an invocatory item, customarily performed when a deity is taken on a procession in the temples. This Dance Ballet was Choreographed by Smt. Revathi Ramachandran and Smt. Chandrika Chandran and presented by the students of Natyanjali Academy of Dance.
The next dance ballet for the evening was Kumara Sambhavam. This is based on an epic, written by Kalidasa, a great Sanskrit poet. This epic talks about the birth of Kumara (Karthikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati), and his victory over the Demon Tarakasura. The casting for this dance ballet was exemplary. This ballet was choreographed by Smt. Revathy Komanduri of Sri Vani Dance Academy.
This was followed by the next item “Saptaswara Jhari”. Saptaswaras are the 7 notes. Jhari means, the flowing river. This ballet was written by Dr.Umaiyyunni and sung by Mastero Dr. Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna. This dance ballet was choreographed by the illustrious Siddarth and Padmaja Kelam and was presented by the students of Kalaivani dance academy. The fifth item for the event was “Siva Panchakshari”. “Namah Sivaya” is a supreme mantra containing 5 holy syllables (panchaaksharas). This ballet invoked and offered salutations to the Perfect God Siva. The audience was spell bound after watching this item. This magnificent item was choreographed by Sri. Sheejith Krishna and was presented by Nritya Sankalpa Dance Academy under the guidance and training by Smt. Savitha Viswanathan.
The last item for the evening was “Sitarama Kalyanam”. The story of Rama and Sita teaches us the three fold Dharma (code of conduct) pertaining to the individual, the family and the society. The Kalyana Utsavam is a symbolic unification of Shiva and Shakti-the Male and Female principles of universe, for the welfare of the community. This colorful ballet was picture perfect. The songs, music and the choreography blended in very well and enthralled the audience. This ballet was choreographed by Smt. Sasikala Penumarthy and was presented by the students of Academy of Kuchipudi Dance. This was followed by the traditional mangalam.
It was a feast to the eyes of the houseful audience to see all performers on stage. A standing ovation with a few minutes of continued applause at the end of the show was a true reflection of the immense appreciation of the audience. Everyone present was in awe and a collective feeling of having witnessed a classic presentation pervaded in the performing arts center. Dr. Sarma thanked all the volunteers and the donors who made this event possible.
The core team of Atlanta branch of SN OM Trust includes Dr. Seshu Sarma (Vice President and trustee), Moorthy Rekapalli (trustee), Ashok Kumar (Member), Sundar Sundararaghavan (Member), Uma Narayan (Member), Raj Rengarajan (Member), Meher Lanka (Member), Krishnadas Pisharodi (Member), Madhu Iyer (Member), Ram Mallappa (Member) and Bob Nayar (Member).
The theme and format of the program was conceived and designed by Dr. Seshu Sarma. The production team of Nritya Kadambam which includes Padma Rallapalli, Lakshmi VedalaSmitha, Yellamraju, Ravi Penumarthi, Mahesh Kommajosyula, Namrata Satuluri, Kamal Satuluri, Malathi Tadavarthi, Raghavababu Tadavarthi and Ramakanth Rallapalli, has put together one of its kind show. The donor response for this event was amazing. For the first time in USA, OM Trust has collected more than 52,000 dollars worth of donation for this noble organization in a single event. This cultural event has set the bar high and the organizers and the audiences are looking forward to many more such great events year after year.