The concept behind ‘Music Within’ began 25,000 feet in a flight over the Arabian sea over a discussion on the effect of music on people and their being. What began as a casual chat transformed over several video conferences and international calls into a search for a composer who could give it the aural form of a musical narrative on music. I found myself in the atelier of Rajkumar Bharathi in Chennai, India explaining this concept while sipping a freshly brewed cup of south Indian coffee. “Piece of cake” he exclaimed. The writer, music director, dance choreographer triumvirate in many projects often loses sight of the original vision of the production. ‘Music Within’ was an exception and the production stayed true to what I had envisioned on that flight over the Arabian Sea. I have had an opportunity to take ‘Music Within’ to several arenas and in doing so, I found that when Bharathanatyam is presented without its strong mythological undercurrents, the art form is appreciated and understandable to a very diverse audience. This has led me to use the power of the narrative in Bharathanatyam, which I have discovered to be one of the most elegant amongst dance forms, and yet so simple. Simple!
Mission: To preserve and provide continuance for the ancient and beautiful Indian classical dance tradition of Bharathanatyam to present and future generations by making the art form more accessible and relevant to current times without compromising its aesthetics.
Sai Shree Arts endeavors to present shows that stretch the very boundaries of what is possible to do with a 'classical' dance form thereby redefining the 'classical' and charting new course for future generations to follow. The training wing of Sai Shree Arts is dedicated to imparting a real education in Bharathanatyam to students with a view of developing leaders and pioneers in this field who can be the torch bearers for change and evolution.
What we do: The classical art form of Bharathanatyam is at a critical phase today after having been in existence for several centuries. The audience interested in this art form has dwindled and several alternative forms of entertainment have taken precedence on the viewership radar. This is unfortunate, as Bharathanatyam represents not just a dance form, but also a culture that is integral to India. An analysis indicates that this art form is in its current state because what is widely performed by solo artists in the popular arena tends to use a small percentage of what Bharathanatyam is capable of expressing.
The themes and the presentations that are commonly enacted have tended to be repetitious and limiting in displaying the actual range of Bharatanatyam. The training imparted to students is based in this repititiouness and therefore curtails the development of future artists who can think creatively to preserve the relevance of a classical art in a fast changing world. It is exactly this facet that we hope to address by showcasing new and specially scripted stories that are relevant to the current age and by training students with a curriculum based in an expansion of the traditional view. We hope to present such shows that feature our teachers, students, and collaborating artists to audiences not just in the USA and India, but the world over. The artists involved would also benefit immensely from having a wider audience to appreciate their talents. And thereby the art form becomes a more viable form of sustenance for their livelihood.
The productions of Sai Shree are very deeply conceived projects with extensive deliberation on the aesthetic and technical aspects of the performance. The end product is an exhilarating experience which will remain etched in the audience minds for ever, regardless of their level of initiation with this dance form.
To tell such a story through Bharathanatyam based in thought and theology and yet, comprehensible to the uninitiated without being a compromise to the connoisseurs requires the artists involved to be rooted in tradition, technically perfect, and still malleable to innovation. The present day curriculum as taught in traditionally bound schools limits the scope and use of Bharathantyam. At Sai Shree Arts, students will receive an education of Bharathanatyam that not only provides the grounding necessary to become fine performers of the art form, but also be able to guage and adapt it to the current age and audience needs. We believe that this is the only true way to keep Bharathanatyam alive and its beauty reaching out to many generations of art lovers to come.