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Leading the way!

Sowmya Sridhar at the Continuum Series

Indian classical arts are often revered for their representation of Indian culture and heritage with great grandeur; Rightly so, owing to their very nature of being a continuity of oral traditions from across generations vertically.

It remains a much argued and over discussed fact that tradition is that which is in transition and that which changes with the times and so are the ways of passing it on. Justifying this stance was Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant whose latest offering to the art lovers of Hyderabad was ‘The Continuum Series – Future Presented’.

Dr. Ananda has been addressing, at several past occasions, the precarious issue of creating, nurturing and developing a breed of the next generation to carry on this mantle of classical arts. The Continuum series comes thus as a carefully conceived, beautifully etched out execution presenting young performing artistes to a silted union of the who’s who of the art field and the uninitiated alike.

The first of the series was presented at Saptaparni last weekend featuring a vocal recital by Sowmya Sridhar, disciple of Hyderabad Sisters, and Bharatanatyam by Krithika Varsha, disciple of Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant.

Sowmya Sridhar turned out to be a precious find – a soothing voice nurtured with rigorous training, eluding passion, subtle humility in attitude, and to top it all a pleasant confidence and joy that overwhelmed and engulfed her singing.

While her rendition of the ‘Kalpanaswaram’ in ‘Evarura Ninuvina’ gave the first glances of professionalism, the ‘Tanam’ followed by the ‘Kalpanaswaram’ of ‘Mari vere dikku evarayya rama’ only substantiated her stance as the future talent to look out for. Balasubramaniam on Mridangam and Sai Kumar on Violin looked more than happy to lend a supporting hand to this young artiste.

Soumya is a B.Com graduate pursuing her ICWA and training in carnatic vocal for the past 15 years. Having spent her childhood in the Gulf, a shift to India was a conscious decision for a better future in both academics and arts. “While Doha, Muscat and Qatar- all the places that we stayed in were culturally very active, I really missed India, its culture and opportunities. Once here, I am very clear I want to pursue parallel careers in academics and classical art. In a competitive society that we live in today, we have to push ourselves hard and raise the bar!” she quips as she made use of this well deserved opportunity to the fullest!

Krithika Varsha performing
Shankarananda Kalakshetra presented the second artiste, Krithika in a Bharatanatyam performance. Her persona reflected her disciplined training, and she too was more than confident in her stage presence. Krithika being a tall frame, Dr. Ananda worked this to the dancer’s advantage in a choreography that spoke through her body and the student made her teacher proud.

While the ‘Dasavataram’ was neatly executed, the ‘Varnam’ highlighted Krithika’s amazing stamina. The Papa Nasham Shivan composition is known to be traditional to the core, only to be laced with sculpturesque poses and footwork specific ‘Jathis and Aradhis’ continuing till the last swaram, and Krithika held her bright self all through.

‘Krishna Nee Begane Baro’ served to be a tiff for the audience as it was tough to take off from vocalist Venu Madhav’s soulful rendition. An Engineer by profession, Krithika is at a strange threshold where she needs to find a balance between an offer from Infosys in hand and an artistic career fostered over the past decade. She says confidently "I want to definitely be a soloist, now that I am working on it and see a good chance, and I have to handle my career well too. I am sure given the support from my family and Akka (Dr. Ananda) this would be possible, but yes, with a lot of hard work".

It was heartening to see corporate co-operation for the arts with Vijay Nirman Company Pvt Ltd lending support; And danseuse Deepika Reddy joined Dr. Ananda in voicing her views on the initiative.

Here’s requesting all you young artistes to FB and Tweet this event as Dr. Ananda rightly put it- "talk about it and spread the word".

And if this is the way tradition has to be taken forward in this 'e-age', so be it!