Review: Tandava by SVN Dance

The Bharatanatyam school of Sarvavidya Natyaalaya hosted their annual dance production, this year’s production was titled, Tandava, Dance of the God, Shiva.  I had arrived promptly at Gandhi Hall, Lenasia where an almost full auditorium was gearing up for a feast of Bharatanatyam. The dance form is definitely an acquired taste of culture that seeks an audience that can connect with the performance.

As I glanced across the audience, it was quite clear that this was a patronage of guests that had a love of this ancient dance of the Gods.  Though the Western world has now fully embraced yoga, meditation and even Bollywood dancing, far fewer know of Bharatanatyam, the traditional south Indian classical dance.

The dance is as difficult to perform as the word is to pronounce, yet this has not stopped youngsters as old as 5 years to take on the stage with their dance guru’s of SVN (Sarvavidya Natyaalaya) in Johannesburg, South Africa this past weekend.

Graceful footwork and dramatic narration of the episodes such as the episode of Lord Daksha and his daughter Sati pining for love and the pain of separation from Shiva were the highlights.  Tight pacing, solid performing, a balance between dance movement with storytelling made for good show and understanding with the audience who were clearly entranced.

The Two Talking Yoni’s artist, Reshma Chhiba, a Bharatanatyam dancer of reached her pinnacle of nirvana to Goddess Kali as she took her form in Tandava this weekend.  Chhiba’s face was lit with fire as she traversed between the celestial plane and that of our Earthly divide as she lost herself in the dance bringing out Kali’s divine energy as she competed with Maheshwara (another name for Shiva) in His bid to enter her domain in one of the tales of dance.

The all female cast of SVN showed immense skill as they blended their Bharatanatyam poise with affection and elevated the audience to another level altogether, I glanced across the rows of seats that were filled with teary eyed aficionado’s who clearly had taste in the classical performing Indian Arts.

SVN stands out to be one of the defining Indian classical assets to our creative economy of South Africa and one of the core reasons why we should take notice of our creative currency and invest in this precious resource locally.

The students and guru’s of SVN danced in a manner that left an indelible imprint in the viewers’ minds transporting every one in to a world of timelessness. The thundering ovation after each piece was a spontaneous reaction by the appreciative audience who were mesmerized by the spiritually elevating experience. The Gandhi Hall reverberated with a clap of thunder from outside loud enough to seem like a response from the Gods themselves.

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About: Sarvavidya Natyaalaya, a Bharatanatyam dance school based in Lenasia, Sandton and Randburg. While the school specialises in classical dance, the school also uses different styles of traditional folk, classical and contemporary movements.

The growing popularity of this Indian classical dance school has grown exponentially over the past few years.  The non-profit dance company has been presenting classical recitals in Lenasia annually with the support of community has expanded its reach into the northern suburbs of Johannesburg with regular classes.

Sarvavidya Natyaalaya is a non-profit organisation established by Anusha Pillay, Reshma Chhiba and Panna Bhaga in May 2010.

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.