Sheela Unnikrishnan, founder and director of Sridevi Nrithyalaya believes in merging tradition with innovation. This is why she beautifully choreographs all the performances presented by her students keeping the tradition intact with a tinge of innovation.
The institute that has recently completed 25 years, has over four branches in the city with over 250 students currently learning Bharatanatyam. It has a history of producing flawless dancers who have won several awards at both national and international levels and who have performed widely.
Sheela says, “We never use props while dancing,” and recalls one of the performances where the students formed a chariot during the ‘Kurukshetra’ performance, without using any props. She recalls another performance where they did the ‘Sheera Sagara Mathanam’ without using any artefacts.
For this year’s Margazhi season, she has choreographed an interesting piece titled ‘Param-The Ultimate.’ The piece begins with the invocation or the pushpanjali followed by a dance to a song that depicts the theme of the performance.
It is further followed by the swarajati which is based on a unique theme. It depicts the ten stages of development of a female (0-10 years) or the Pillai Tamizh and only girls till the age 10 have been selected for this section. It has been done as an ode to the Goddess Meenakshi.
This section leads to the varanam which shows the ultimate aim of one’s birth, which is reaching the lord through devotion, followed by the Ardhanaareeswara—Shivashakti (man and woman together), showing the equality between the two.
This is further followed by depiction of love for Lord Shiva, which will include scenes showing how a female is attracted by Shiva’s love and what she thinks.
Just before the end, the destruction of the world will be shown through the performance based on Oozikoothu. This involves the story of how Goddess Shakti got angry which resulted in the destruction of the universe.
The last section or the Tillana will show the union of the Purusha and Prakriti for the wellness of the world. Sheela and her sister Shobha, who is a Kuchipudi dancer, wonderfully explained the concept and said that they will end the piece with Mangalam that involves a prayer for the wellbeing of everyone present especially the audience.
It’s time to plunge into the ocean of spirituality through a beautiful journey through dance by Sridevi Nrithyalaya.