OSTENTATIOUS OLYMPICSWith me were my friends Sheha , Simran and samyuktha .
Participating in the Olympics is a dream for every performer, athlete, gymnast, sportsman etc. To live this dream in our teenage left me and my dear friends in my dance class, exhilarated and exultant.
The moment we were conformed of this dream-cum-true trip to London of performance, we were completely enthralled. What an honour? We were lucky to represent India - Art and Culture, through our performance of a 3000 year old dance tradition of our land. Yes, we were the cultural ambassadors of our country to project and present the pride of Tamil Culture, Bharatanatyam. This thought made us feel very proud and responsible. We started our vigourous practice for the show. Our Guru, Smt. Sheela Unnikrishnan has choreographed two special pieces of dance in the Melattur style of Bharatanatyam, specially for Olympics performance. The first one is Nataraja Sthothram, a dance which is an exotic blend of Yogasanas from Pathanjali's Yoga Sutra and Karanas and Charis from Bharata Muni's Natya Sastra - a dance set to Pathanjali's Sanskrit verses, in praise of Lord Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. Since Olympics is all about gymnastics and fitness, this piece too involved difficult postures from Yoga and high level stamina which kindled a positive energy and spiritual awakening in us, the dancers and the viewers alike. The second one is a joyful number which was set to the tune of Sankar Mahadevan's voice with the five colour rings that make the Olympic symbol. This one was a tribute to the London Olympics 2012 from our dance school, Sridevi Nrithyalaya in Chennai.
During our rehearsal all our friends and parents were thrilled and appreciated our hard work for the show. Not only our parents, but all our co-dancers and their parents too felt proud of us and encouraged us to improve more in our presentation. Smt. Srimathy Kesan, the head of Space Kidz India, who organised the "Team India Peace", the eighty member group for the performance in the Olympic Park, London was overwhelmed with pride and joy to see our preparation for the program.
Our arrival at the London Gatwick drove us energetic and hyperactive. The long flight failed to withhold our enthusiasm. We along with the other dancers of India were hosted in London by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd along with ECE. A warm welcome was given and we were transferred to a comfortable stay. The next day we were taken to an office were we were given London 2012 Olympic Park Accreditation passes to enter the 'high security' Olympic Park Artistes entry. We were spell-bound with the volume of the preparation made there. Something beyond our imagination. When we entered the Olympic Park arena, everyone of us were awestruck by the scenic beauty and the ultra-modern stage which stood in contrast admist the green meadow, exhibiting the taste and style of English and their high value for fine arts.
The whole setting looked as if it had come out of a fantasy story book. When it was our turn to perform, a sudden of wave of nervousness had set in. But the moment we started our dance with the Nataraja Sthothram, the ambience swallowed us in; Raga Lavangi from our great Carnatic music, in which the music for the dance was set, took over our soul; feeling of eternity flew through every vein and nerve of us. DANCING IS BLISS! We swear that it would not be exaggerated to say that the Realisation of the Supreme was felt by each one of us with our great art. The warmth and hospitality of the British in their land was too cozy for all that made us forget the bitter experience with them in our History. Love is great! Our eighty member Team India's performance was well-recieved and was shown with a big round of applause and wild cheering at the end.
Following this, our five member Bharatanatyam group was honoured and invited to perform in the India Campaign for Olympics 2012 which is held at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London on 1st and 2nd august 2012, being organized by the High Commission of India and Nehru Centre, London. The other dancers of Team India Peace too performed. We started our performance with an invocatory Vignaraja Mallari on Lord Ganesa and later presented our two other dances which we prepared for the Olympic Park show. All the rasikas, both Indian and foreign appreciated joyfully about our dance and expressed utmost gratitude towards us for bringing the rich and priceless art of Tamil Nadu to their place. We the young dancers felt absolute feeling of patriotism to be proud Indians and to be fortunate enough. Our art has reached every soul beyond the barriers of rasicm, language, culture, political and geographic boundaries. Truly gifted we were to experience this wonderful moment. It was just, plain blissful.
Besides the dance performances, we were taken on sight seeing tours around the beautiful London city by the local hosting companies. Big Ben, London Bridge, London Eye, Thames River Cruise, Madam Tussauds and what not. Everywhere, we recieved a warm welcome and respectful treatment. Our dream of going to the great London came true as a double bonus, as we were also offered a chance to visit the city as artistes and cultural ambassadors of India, performing our divine dance form.
This is an article written from the heart of the luckiest Bharatanatyam dancer from Chennai, Bhairavi Venkatesan (IX - B) of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram JAI HIND!!!!
(Do not be puzzled, the fifth dancer was our escort cum dancer my mother, Shobha Korambil from Sridevi Nrithyalaya, Chennai)