A dance tribute by one thousand Bharatnatyam dancers to the Lord of Dance

By Loganayagi Govindarajan

Back in 2010 , Apsaras Arts was invited to participate in the celebration of Thanjavur Big Temple (Periya Kovil) for turning 1000 years old. The temple was called The Brihadeeswara temple in the town of Thanjavur, southwest of Chennai. This ancient temple was built by Raja Raja Chola in 1010 AD for Lord Shiva and has been recognised in UNESCO’s list of world heritage monuments.

Joining dancers from various dance schools across India and the globe, Apsaras Arts company dancers from Singapore were blessed to part of the temple millennium celebrations. One might wonder how the planned performance was executed with 1000 dancers to commemorate the temple’s significance?

All 1000 dancers did perform in unision to three Bharatanatyam numbers compiled, scored and choreographed by Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subramaniam, an eminent dancer and President of ABHAI (Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India) under the support of the state government of Tamil Nadu and the late Chief Minister, ‘Kalaignar’ M Karunanithi. I joined our Apsaras Arts team in September 2010 to honour Lord Shiva’s temple celebrations. We offered our beloved dance at the feet of our beloved dancing God. We danced to three dance numbers such as the Ganapati Kautuvam, Thiruvisaippa of Saint Karuvur Thevar, the spiritual Guru of the Chola King and Siva Panchakshara Sthuthi of Adi Shankaracharya. 

Personally for me, this occasion was also a kind of thanksgiving to the Chola history and rulers, the sacrifices and hard labour of so many strong man, artisans and elephants behind the construction of such a magnificent temple rich with indian architectures. The entire experience itself was not only spiritual but extremely special for any dancer. Similar to visiting a pilgrim site like Mecca, Jerusalem or Kailash, this was a pilgrimage for bharatanatyam dance communities at this holy temple ground to validate their dance dedication to Lord Shiva, our King of Dance.

As a dancer, this trip helped me uncover my true purpose in dance. Apart from thanksgiving to the Lord of Dance, this was also an opportune to honour my Gurus who have imparted knowledge of this beautiful art form and shaped me into a fine dancer and educator today. My journey continues in touching lives with my Seva to God and my Gurus through dance.

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Devata: Guardians of Dance

BLK D Goodman Arts Centre

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