Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chinmaya Naada Bindu

This year has been filled with music and dance. We have attended some really awesome music and dance programs. It began with the annual celebration of Pt. Jiyalal Vasant's death anniversary at Suresh Wadkar's Ajivasan, then a Kathak program at Ravindra Natya mandir in which a friend performed followed by a three day music and dance festival at Chinmaya Vibhooti.

The Chinmaya Naada Bindu is annually conducted to showcase the young talent and also to teach appreciation of the arts. This was a first of its kind event that we were going to attend. The whole idea of just soaking in the arts over three days drew me to it.

The schedule was like this...

April 19-21, 2013

Day 1: Inauguration of festival 
           Ranjani and Gayatri - Carnatic Vocal performance.

Day 2: Hindustani Vocal performance by Jayateerth Mevundi
           Lalgudi Bani workshop by Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi
           Bharatnatyam by Rama Vaidyanathan

Day 3: Carnatic Violin by Lalgudi Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi
           Bharatnatyam workshop by Rama Vaidyanathan
           Bansuri performance by Rakesh Chaurasia and Rupak Kulkarni and tabla by Kalinath Mishra
           Seraikella Chhau by Shashdhar Acharya

The cost of this retreat includes a comfortable stay in twin shared apartments, all meals and the cost of workshops and performances. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with world class performers and with Swami Tejomayanandji.

The Campus of Chinmaya Vibhooti is spread over hundreds of acres of land still under phased development. The facilities for stay and food are excellent and there is even an electric car for internal movement.

Transport from Powai, Mumbai was arranged we hopped on to the bus at Nerul. it took us 3 hours to reach Kolwan thru the expressway traffic and a stop for tea at the Food mall.

On checking in at the Kaushalya building we were handed out CNB kits of T-shirts, program booklets and pens and notepads. The keys to our apartments we handed over to us. Post lunch until evening 6 pm we had time for ourselves.

Coming to the performance for which we were there, the festival began with a opening ceremony by the CNB social outreach members. The kids from neighboring villages are taught bhajans free of cost and this was their day for performance.

This followed by a Carnatic Vocal performance by the sisters Ranjani and Gayatri. They were born and trained in Mumbai before they shifted to Chennai. They enthralled the audience with lovely renderings of Tyagaraja's compositions and ended with a Marathi abhanga in their flawless diction inspite of having moved to Chennai years ago.

The second and third day onwards the program started in the early morning at 6.30 am! This was a sure treat for us present. 

The first performance on Day 2 was by Jayateerth Mevundi. He the one who carries the singing legacy of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. He sang well but thru the entire performance he was not focused and kept asking for correction in monitor and kept signalling to the sound engineer.

Post breakfast we were treated to a wonderful workshop on Lalgudi Bani by the brother sister duo Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi. While Krishnan has strength and Viji has a melodious voice and her bow dances on the violin. They shared a bit of history about their legendary father Lalgudi Jayaram and creator of the Lalgudi style of violin playing where the violin is held upside down with the base resting on the shoulders and the string shaft held between the toes while they play in the squatting position. This was on April 20th and 21st and the news came in that the great maestro Lalgudi Jayaram passed away on April 22nd. My wish of listening to Jayaram play his expressive music live will remain unfulfilled. But yeah atleast I have listened to his two children in close proximity.

In between there was a discourse by Swami Tejomayanandji on the occassion of Rama Navami followed by a small celebration of Ram janma. The musical was performed by Rama Bharadwaj the resident Dance director and a few other retreat participants.

Later in the evening there was a lot of excitement as everyone was looking forward to the Bharatnatyam performance by Rama Vaidyanathan. She completely mesmerized the audience and yet lit that spiritual light in the eyes that behold her form. To watch Rama dance is like watching a sculpture from the Chidambaram Swami temple come alive on stage! She is a gorgeous dancer and the bhava presentation moves the audience completely. When we went to take pictures with her she was still absorbed into that performance of the devdasi and it was a while before she was composed again. This was an experience in itself for me to watch the performer drown deep into the art.

Day 3 began with the early morning soothing performance of Lalgudi Bani by Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi. The violin speaks they say and in the hands of Krishnan and Viji it pours out emotions too. The piece on the expressions of the heart was just awe inspiring!

The famed Mayur Alaripu a Rama Vaidyanathan signature

The second event on this last day at CNB was a workshop of Bharatnatyam appreciation by Rama Vaidyanathan. Besides the teaching of mudras and bhava she also performed her signature Mayur alaripu. The icing on the cake was the controlled expression of desire of a Devadasi for the Lord Chidambaram and how she pleads that he engulf her being. This performance was to show how even sex can be expressed thru dance movements and bhava without making it vulgar.

Rama Vaidyanathan

Meeta Vashisht was a participant too

The next was the mellifluous Bansuri played by Rakesh Chaurasia and Rupak Kulkarni with Kalinath Mishra on the tabla. They rocked the concert with the playing and built a rapport with audience thru casual conversations. Kalinath Mishra is an icon that draws the youngsters like a magnet I had seen and enjoyed his tabla before at Ajivasan too.

The last performance of the entire retreat was a Seraikella Chhau dance by Shashdhar Acharya and team. The sounds of the dhol reverberated in the huge Sudharma auditorium and the graceful yet powerful prances and jumps made one sit at the edge of the seat. The best of the pieces was one on the love dance of Ratri and Chanda or the night and the moon. Ratri was played by Shashdhar Acharya himself. This dance form though folk is difficult as the dancers wear masks with just tiny drilling for the eyes yet the movements have to be precise and the balance has to be perfect.

It is beyond words to explain how we felt just soaking in the environment dedicated to music and dance for 3 days and the Chinmaya Naada Bindu. 

A view from the Ganesh Mandir, the highest point in the Chinmaya Vibhooti Campus

Here is the tour of the museum dedicated to Swami Chinmayanand the founder of Chimaya Mission.

Chinmaya Vibhooti is a gurukul dedictated to the performing arts. They conduct several intensives through out the year and the Winter Art Intensive starts on Dec 15 this year. Interested? 

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