Saayujya (The Merging) is a world premiere of an original work, created by the renowned artists T.M. Krishna & Priyadarsini Govind from India and presented by SRUTI, The India Music & Dance Society in collaboration with the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
Drawing from Philadelphia’s history of the spirit of freedom and independence, this new work is centered around liberation from and evolution beyond our small personal selves in order to soar to the larger collective and higher planes of meaning and existence. The performance combines the two powerful and classical art forms of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance, which together create a mesmerizing abstraction of the human experience, longing and flight into spiritual heights.
Priyadarsini Govind and T.M. Krishna, preeminent artists who have been transforming the shape and progression of their two classical art forms for more than a decade are now initiating a groundbreaking collaboration inspired by Philadelphia’s unique place in American history, to connect the spirits of the two great art forms.
In the words of T.M.Krishna: “Our process for the new work focuses on analogous forms of artistic exploration and sharing, on looking at form and structure not in a dry or even strictly beautiful sense, but to further critical questions about connecting true spirit of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam to contemporary culture, of going beyond the physical and personal to the non-articulated and collective. I think within this idea is embedded the spirit of improvisation, sharing, responding and respecting.”
Saayujya has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Stay after the performance for a discussion curated by Toni Shapiro-Phim.
Bharatanatyam is a well-known and popular classical Indian dance-form. The most important elements of the dance include, nritta, or the purely rhythmic, which is confined to footwork and the shapes & movements of the body and the hands; and in which there is no portrayal of sentiments or stories; and abhinaya, which is conveyed through gestures, movements and facial expressions, -"the suggestive language of form.
The dance is often accompanied by songs, the lyrics of a substantial portion of which seek to convey sringara bhakti- devotion through expression of love between human and god; or only sringara- romance between man and woman. The traditional repertoire has been enriched, particularly in recent times, by the addition of numerous items, which reflect bhakti alone, as well as items interpreting in dance form famous classical music compositions and folk dances. Today’s presentation of Saayujya represents yet another step in the evolution of Bharatanatyam dance.
Look out for the ardhamandali or the basic half-sitting posture and the hand gestures or the hasta mudra-s. Each mudra is distinct and coveys different meanings of the song and story depending on how it is used.
Carnatic music is considered one of the oldest systems of music in the world, with well-defined musical definitions (swaras or notes), grammar (prayogas or phrases) and sophisticated melodic structures, known as raagas. There is a structural organization of ragas (melodic scales) into a system of 72 primary or root raagas, known as the melakarta raags, from which all other ragas are theoretically generated. Similarly, Carnatic music also defines complex rhythmic structures, known as talas.
The highly devotional & spiritual elements often characterize this musical form. However, it also boasts of a large number of compositions of the social and romantic types, although they are often positioned in the framework of spirituality. There is a variety of compositions, with the main ones being ‘kritis’ (with scope for large musical expression and expansion) and ‘keerthanas’. Additional structures include gitams, varnams, swarajatis, javalis, thillanas, viruttams etc.
Video Credit : Sivam Inc
Saayujya has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The Center is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.”More
SRUTI, The India Music and Dance Society is a non-profit organization based in the Philadelphia region and founded in 1986. Sruti’s principal mission is to promote and present Indian classical music and dance. In addition SRUTI seeks to educate the Philadelphia community at large about Indian arts. A volunteer-run organization SRUTI’s leadership comprises an elected Board of Directors and several committees. With over 10 recitals a year SRUTI has presented numerous world-renowned artists including Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, M Balamurali Krishna, Hariprasad Chaurasia, K.J.Jesudas, Sudha Raghunathan, Veena Sahasrabuddhe, L. Subramanian, Mandolin Srinivas and Chitravina Ravikiran. In addition SRUTI has also presented several well known dance Companies and individuals – Kalakshetra Dance Group, Nrityagram, Dhananjayans, Alarmel Valli ,Priyadarsini Govind and Kathakali institute of Kalamandalam, Sadanam and Margi. SRUTI also publishes an annual magazine Sruti Ranjani and a periodical, Sruti Notes.More
The Annenberg Center is dedicated to the advancement of a diverse and thriving cultural community through the pursuit of excellence, innovation and intellectual engagement in the performing arts.
Affirming its core belief in the power of the arts to transform lives, the Annenberg Center embraces creative expression from the past and the present, of local and global origin, to expand the worlds of all who participate.
As a destination and a resource, the Annenberg Center connects and engages artists, audiences, the University of Pennsylvania and the regional community through shared experiences in its high quality venues.
The evening comences with Smt Priyadarsini Govind and Sri T M Krishna briefly intoducing dance and music through individual pieces.
Katha-Alapana : A narrative within the notes
Alaapana : a melodic abstraction of a raga sans any rhythmic framework, with no tale to tell.
But when this very Alaapana is a response to dance, does it reveal the story?
A dialogue, where the dance charts the course of the music. The dancer and her narrative form the impetus for this Alaapana, and lead the melodic expression into storytelling.
Concept : Smt Priyadarsini Govind / Sri T M Krishna
Music and Improvistion : Sri T M Krishna / Sri R K Sriramkumar
Traditional and contemporary issues of race, colour, gender, liberty, equality and freedom are concerns that generations of past, present and future societies continue to grapple with. “Voices” is a creation in the idiom of dance, music, poetry and the written word, exploring the idea and the ideal of “freedom”, not bound by a nation or an era, but through humanity as a whole over the ages. The presentation is knit together as a dialogue across borders, across generations and across ethnicities, languages and cultures, through the voices of some of the greatest world leaders, thinkers and poets. The ideal of freedom as propounded by Rabindranath Tagore is juxtaposed with his contemporary Nelson Mandela’s remarkable strength of spirit to realise that very ideal, for himself and his fellow human beings. The sanguine abandon of the 16th century Indian mystic poet Mira Bai is presented in parallel with the evocative voice of the 20th century American songwriter Joan Baez where she traverses through the blurred boundaries between reality and the illusive dream of the ideal world - Both women who defied norms within their own times and circumstances, and whose own lives were glaring reflections of society’s sufferings, and its pressing aspiration for an alternative.
Separated by nearly 12 centuries, the philosophical musings of Adi Shankara and the feisty speeches of Babasaheb Ambedkar address issues of racial and social injustice, issues that we as a world continue to tussle with at many levels to this day – the former a philosophical struggle and the latter a political one. The piece ends with the hope-filled voices of Subramanya Bharathi, Rosa Parks and Rabindranath Tagore. It concludes with the lingering promise of this ideal of true freedom.
"Voices" is a reverberation of human thought through the centuries which leaves and impact on us to this day, on a personal, political and humane measure.
The artistes through their idioms bring to light the larger perspective of a literal idea with aesthetics and beauty. Through "Voices", they interestingly confront this ongoing battle of society for its own ideal of liberty through two art forms that co-exist and yet battle for space, going beyond what is prescribed as their performance identity.
Concept and Creation - Sri T.M. Krishna / Smt Priyadarsini Govind / Sri R.K. Shriramkumar
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,..
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution.
“Chitto Jetha” / Rabindranath Tagore / “Gitanjali” - 1910 / Bengali Poem in English – Rabindranath Tagore
Chitto jetha bhoyshunno , Uccho jetha shir,
Gyan jetha mukto , jetha griher prachir
Apon prangon tole dibosho shorbori
Bosudhare rakhenai khondo khudro kori
Jetha bakko hridoyer utcchomukh hote
Ucchoshia uthe, jetha nirbarito srote
Deshe deshe dishe dishe kormo dhara dhai
Ojosro shohosro bidho choritarthotai ,
Jetha tuccho acharer morubalu rashi
Bicharer sroto poth fele nai grashi
Pourushere kore ni shotodha, nittho jetha
Tumi shorbo kormo chinta anonder neta,
Nij hoste nirdoi aghat kori pito
Bharotere shei shorge korojagorito
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic wars;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action -
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
“I am prepared to die” / Nelson Mandela / 20 April 1964 / English
"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination…I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended…
…I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
"Paga Ghunghroo" / Mirabai / Music from "Meera" - 1947 / Hindi Translation - http://buoy.antville.org/stories
Pag ghunghru bandh meera nachi re
Pag ghunghru bandh meera nachi re
Main to apne narayanki
Ho gayi aapki dasi re
Pag ghunghru re
Pag ghunghru re
Vish ka pyala ranaji ne bheja
Piwat meera hansi re
Pag ghunghru re
Pag ghunghru re
Log kahe meera bhayire bawri
Nath kahe kulnashi
Meera kahe parbhu girdharnagar
Sahaj mile avinashi re
Sahaj mile avinashi re
Pag ghunghru bandh meera nachi re
Pag ghunghru re.
Tying anklets to her feet, in abandon Mira dances.
She says, "I have become a slave to my Narayan*."
The king sent a goblet of poison as a gift.
Mira drank it all in one gulp, and laughed.
Tying anklets to her feet, in abandon Mira danced.
People say, “Look! Mira the crazy woman”
Relatives say, "Look! Destroyer of clan’s respect"
Mira says, “I have become a citizen of Giridhar’s* city.
What is sanity there, what is clan’s respect!”
Tying anklets to the feet, in abandon Mira dances.
“The Dream Song” / Joan Baez & Ron Davies - 1992 / Original score / English I had a dream I was following a barefoot girl
Beside a stream that flowed around the world
And we spoke of many things though her mouth never moved
As the most peculiar scenes were disappearing into view
Oh what a dream beyond the realm of why
Pretty little beings beneath the yawning sky
Speaking of God as though they could define
Music to the deaf and color to the blind or God to man
And then the leaves became a thousand tears
And I was on my knees in a crazy house of mirrors
I couldn't find my face but a voice was drawing nearer
Hush baby, sweet baby, hush don't you cry
And I thought I woke and my mother was standing there
And my heart broke as the ribbons in her hair
Turned into highways surrounded and swirled
Like a crown come down around a not so perfect world
In the corner of the dream was the man with the blue guitar
It had no strings but the music touched the stars
And his long dark curls turned to gold before my eyes
And the barefoot girl smiled off to the side and it was real
Then a thousand birds took flight with a joyful noise
And I heard the angels up on high rejoice
I could see my face and I recognized the voice
Hush baby, sweet baby, hush baby hush
It's just a dream, one of those that goes on and on
Scene after scene with the rhythm of a gypsy song
When I really woke I was frozen in between
I didn't know who I was, it was a dream inside a dream
It's just a dream
Oh what a dream
It’s all a dream
Kaashi Panchakam and ManishApanchakam / Adi Sankara / 8th Century CE / Sanskrit
Translation and Transliteration
Mano nivrittih paramopashantih sa tirthavarya manikarnika ca |
Jnana pravaha vimaladi ganga sa kashikaham nijabodha rupa ||
1. I am that city of Kaci in the form of my own pure awareness. The supreme peace that is the quietude of the mind is that Maeikareikaghat, the holiest of the holy. The flow of the waking consciousness is the divine Ganges.
Yasyamidam kalpitamindra jalam caracaram bhati manovilasam |
Saccitsukhaika paramatma rupa sa kashikaham nijabodha rupa ||
2. I am the city of Kaci in the form of my own pure awareness. In it shines this unreal magic called the world consisting of moving and non-moving life forms. This world is mere playfulness of the mind. That Reality is Existence-Awareness- Bliss, One, obtaining as the innermost core of the individual.
Kosheshu pancasvadhirajamana buddhirbhavani pratideha geham |
Sakshi shivassarvagatontaratma sa kashikaham nijabodha rupa ||
3. I am that city of Kaci in the form of my own pure awareness. The all-pervading witness, who is the inner ruler, is Lord Shiva. The intellect shining as the presiding deity in the five sheaths in everybody is the consort of Shiva.
ManishApanchakam - Introductory verses Annamayad annamayam athava caitanyameva caitanyat |
Dvijavara durikartum vanchasi kim bruhi gaccha gaccheti ||
1. O great among the twice-born! What is it that you want to move away by saying, "Go, go"? Do you want the body made up of food to move away from another body made up of food? Or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?
kim gangambuni bimbitembaramanau candala vatipayah
pure cantaramasti kancana ghati mrtkumbhayorvambare |
pratyagvastuni nistaranga sahajanandavabodhambudhau
Viproyam shvapacoyam ityapi mahan koyam vibheda bhramah ||
2. Is there any difference between the reflection of the sun in the waters of the Ganga and its reflection in the water in a ditch in the quarters of the outcastes? Or between the space in a gold pot and in a mud pot? What is this illusion of difference in the form, “This is a Brahmana and this is an outcaste” in the indwelling self which is the ripple-free ocean of bliss and pure consciousness?
Speech to the Constituent Assembly / Babasaheb Ambedkar / 1949 / English
“…How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?... How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?
...(These) down-trodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves.
...political power in this country has too long been the monopoly of a few and the many are not only beasts of burden, but also beasts of prey. This monopoly has not merely deprived them of their chance of betterment, it has sapped them of what may be called the significance of life.This urge for self-realization in the down-trodden classes must not be allowed to devolve into a class struggle or class war. It would lead to a division of the House. That would indeed be a day of disaster. For, as has been well said by Abraham Lincoln, a House divided against itself cannot stand very long. Therefore the sooner room is made for the realization of their aspiration, the better for the few, the better for the country, the better for the maintenance for its independence and the better for the continuance of its democratic structure. This can only be done by the establishment of equality and fraternity in all spheres of life.
Excerpt from speech to the Constituent Assembly / Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar / 1949 / English
“Freedom of mind is the real freedom.
A person whose mind is not free though he may not be in chains, is a slave, not a free man. One whose mind is not free, though he may not be in prison, is a prisoner and not a free man. One whose mind is not free though alive, is no better than dead. Freedom of mind is the proof of one's existence.”
Lyrics – Subramania Bharathi
Translation – Commissioned contribution
Endru thaniyum inda sudandira daham?
Endru madiyum engal adimayin moham?
Endru yemadannai kaivilangugal pogum?
Endru yemadinnalgal theerndu poyyagum?
Panjamum noyum nin meyyadiyaarko?
Parinil menmaigal verini yaarkko?
Thanjamadaintha pin kaividalaamo?
Thayum than kuzhandayai thallidappomo?
Anjalendru arulcheyyum kadamai illayo?
Ariya neeyum nin aram marandayo?
Vencheyal arakkara veetituduvone?
When will this thirst for freedom be quenched?
When will our desire of slavery perish? When will the shackles that bind my motherland break free?
When will I see the end of my sufferings?
Is famine and disease the fate of your true devotees?
While all goodness in the world the right of someone else?
Is it fair that you leave us helpless, we who have surrendered at your feet?
Is it just of a mother to desert her baby?
Is it not your duty to bless us to be fearless?
Oh great one, have you forgotten your dharma?
Oh, the one who destroys those who commit cruel deeds!
Oh valorous one! Oh father of my nation!
"I believe we are here on planet earth" / Rosa Parks / 1988 / English
"I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.. Life is to be lived to its fullest so that death is just another chapter. Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others."
"Aaguner Parashmoni" / Rabindranath Tagore / Bengali Poem in English – Rabindranath Tagore
Aaguner parashmoni chhuaao praane |
E jibon punno karo dahon daane ||
Aamar ei dehokhali tule dharo,
Tomar oi debaaloyer prodipkoro –
Nishidin aaloksikha jwaluk gaane ||
Aadharer gaaye gaaye parash tabo
Shararaat photak taara nabo nabo |
Noyoner drishti hote ghuchbe kaalo,
Jekhane porbe shikhai dekhbe aalo –
Byatha mor utthbe jole urdho-paane
Touch my life with the magic of thy fire,
And with its burning gift of pain make it precious
Use this, my body, as a lamp to hold up in thy temple,
And let its flame burn in song through
the night and through the day.
Let stars thrill out of my darkness,
Along the course of thy touch
Through all the watches of the night.
The black mist will vanish from my eyes,
Wheresoever they will turn they will see all In thy light,
My pain will leap up high to thine alter in a burst of flame.
The piece puts to enquiry the concept that music can be seen as a visual in abstract forms, colours and design. The music composition is created keeping in mind its visual representation, which is electronically estimated from the audio signal using sound processing methodologies. The dance ensues as a response to not only the music, but also to its visual counterpart.
Set in three movements, the entire piece captures the interaction between musician, dancer and audience through the medium of the visualisation. The first movement familiarises the listener with the visual parallel to each aural stimulus, introducing one element of the music at a time. The second movement plays with various permutations of collaboration between the artists on stage. The third movement establishes and aural and visual refrain, superimposing it with melodic and rhythmic improvisations. In this process of the visualisation of sound, the audience steps in as a key player, keeping alive the aural sensation through the visual reference, even as the music eventually fades away.
Concept : Sri T M Krishna / Smt Priyadarsini Govind
Music Composition : Sri R K Sriramkumar / Sri Arun Prakash / Sri T M Krishna
Creatives and Research : Sri Vignesh Ishwar
Animation : Satish Kumar
taDAnIm kim sA adhikArini ?
idAnIm kim sA sEvAmaNI ?
mudApi sA shaktihInA
sAda sA kim parAdhInA?
- Sri R K Sriramkumar
Was she then in control?
Has she now reconciled to servitude?
Though happy, she is powerless
Is she always under the control of someone else?
In a world mirroring one that we live in today, two women take an opposite stance. Both these women are strong and independent in thought alike, but belong to a chauvinistic society and their acceptance of this is what gives them the identities.
One who is angry and in distress as her lover has returned to her after courting another woman. She uses sarcasm to channel her displeasure towards him and asks him to leave immediately.
Contrastingly, the second woman tells her friend, that no matter what has gone by, today is a good day for him to come to her.
She says, “ He has every right to walk in here anytime.
I will never question him about the other girl. Tell him, this is a beautiful day to come here."
An abhinaya piece weaving together two traditional padams from the Bharatanatyam repertoire.
And yet the artistes gently stir the these ideas that lie deeply rooted in conventions, to give way, through the voice of Subramania Bharathi, who writes that beyond the shackles of a confined mind, feminism rises as a personification of strenghth and perspicuity.
A force to reckon, a source of energy that provides and raises the strength of a woman.
Not just an epitome of beauty, but blessed with that supreme power to create, provide and nurture.
She is Shakti.
Shakti, an idea that goes beyond the gender barrier.
A power that carries the strength and energy which is deliverence for all mankind.
Indendu Vachitivira : Raga - Surutti / Tala - Misra Chapu / Composer - Unknown
Manci Dinamu : Raga - Anandabhairavi / Tala - Misra Chapu / Composer - Kshetrayya
Nenjukku Neethiyum : Raga - Sindhubhairavi / Tala – Adi Taalam / Lyrics - Subramania Bharathi