New Delhi, July 2019; It was an enriching evening highlighting the influence of devotion on the life story of Dancer Geeta Chandran. Here at the CD Deshmukh Auditorium at the India International Centre, New Delhi, an enthralling Bharatanatyam presentation by renowned dancer Padmashri Geeta Chandran focused on her autobiography. Presented by Natya Vriksha, the evening called Samagama Leela, made Delhiites dive into the ocean of Bhakti/Devotion. Introduction of the presentation and insight on nuances were given by Acharya Shri Shrivatsa Goswami (Sri Caitanya Prema Samsthana, Vrindavan, UP), while Rajiv Chandran read the dancer’s self-story.
Dancer Geeta Chandran’s autobiographical journey into the ocean of Bhakti/Devotion, Samagama Leela was premiered at Yale, New Haven, United States, at the international conference on Bhakti, in May 2019. The evening here at IIC was the second performance of Samagama Leela.
During her presentation, Dancer Geeta Chandran narrated how Bhakti impacted her life – from early childhood and through her journey through life as a classical dancer, and how it influenced her as a person.
She began with a Shiva Shlokam highlighting Shiva-Nataraja at Chidambaram, followed by the NA-M-Shi-Va-Ya shlokam of Adi Shnakara. After this, Geeta Chandran presented a piece by Hita Hari Vallabh in the Haveli sangeet tradition of north India, a Dasar kriti, a Kabir song, and finally ended with Sankeertan.
In the words of Acharya Shri Shreevats Goswami, listening to the essence of this special presentation of devotion and dedication was a riveting experience.
My dance form was born as part of temple rituals in the magnificent temples of south India. It enshrined and amplified the devotion that the community felt towards their temple and the presiding deities. The bhakti in dance was also linked to so many other expressions of bhakti – architecture, sculpture, paintings, crafts, textiles and also philosophy, literature and poetry. The bhakti in dance is a function of so many other bhakti strands that culminate as a single aesthetic experience, said, Geeta Chandran. BHAKTI also has meanings that shift dramatically according to context and sentiment. It is most commonly understood as ‘personal devotion’, she added.
About the performance, Geeta Chandran said, In Samagama Leela I try and explore my own journeys and rebellions. From childhood how did bhakti find me, how I infused Bhakti with my curiosity and finally how I let Bhakti/wonder overtake my body, heart and soul. The performance was a personal narration of bhakti and me!
A celebrated artist and star-performer, classical Indian dancer and choreographer GEETA CHANDRAN uses her inordinate skill in Bharatanatyam as force multiplier for the widest range of dance issues that have engaged her focus: linkages between body and mind; the relationships between solo dancing, group dancing and choreography; and dance as a medium for expressing abstract notions of Joy, Beauty, Values, Aspirations, Myth and Spirituality. Today Geeta Chandran is renowned as a thinking-artist who has synthesised the knowledge she received from all her Gurus to imprint Bharatanatyam with her personal vision of the dance and unleashing its potential as an instrument for changemaking. Geeta Chandran is also Artistic Director of the Natya Vriksha Dance Company, known for the high aesthetic quality of its group presentations that showcase Geeta’s metier as a choreographer.
Geeta was awarded the prestigious national award – PADMA SHRI — by the President of India in 2007. She has also just been conferred the equally prestigious national SANGEETA NATAK AKADEMI AWARD for Bharatanatyam for 2016, which she received from the Hon. President of India on 17 January 2018. Geeta has also been made (the most prestigious) TAGORE NATIONAL FELLOW(2017-2018) bestowed by the Government of India’s Ministry of Culture.