Lexington-based Vision-Aid, a non-profit organization serving the visually disadvantaged in India, held its fundraising event of the year with Navavidha Bhakti, a dance ballet, on July 17 at Ashland High school. The event, which was a Bharathanatyam dance production involving over 30 dancers, was attended by nearly 580 people, including Chief Guest Subu Kota, Chairman of the Boston Group and Guest of Honor Puran Dang, Chairman of the Minuteman Group.
Navavidha Bhakti follows in Vision-Aid’s tradition of the past 3 years of holding ambitious dance productions as a means of raising funds to serve the visually challenged. Past years’ shows, titled Ramayana, Krishna and Silappadhikaram, were considered similarly successful events. “Our events in the past 3 years have all been wonderful sold out shows,” says Vision-Aid Executive Director Ram Raju. “Feedback for Navavidha Bhakti was tremendous, and we raised $12,000 from the event”, he adds.
It is noteworthy that Navavidha Bhakti, or ‘Nine Pathways to Devotion’, was a collaboration among talents from India and some of the best New England-based dancers drawn from over 15 dance schools, working over a period of 3 months. Acclaimed Kerala-based dancer Kalamandalam Lata conceived and choreographed the production, which included music that was produced specifically for the event. “Srimad Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana have prescribed nine pathways to devotion. To portray this theme, I have used 9 different stories from the Puranas. My sister, Vidyalakshmi and I wrote the lyrics and the music composition is by my flutist Mr. Jayaprakash Kannur. We have also included some verses from Narayaneeyam and other Shlokas to match the theme,” said the dancer, in an interview with Lokvani.
The dance program opened with a presentation from Sunadha Dance Group, a cultural troupe comprising of visually impaired dancers, from the Bangalore-based Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. According to an audience member, they did not let their visual challenge get in the way of delivering an outstanding performance showcasing Annamacharya’s Sriman Narayana. The Navavidha Bhakti ballet followed, with spectacular renditions of stories, including those of Prahalada, Gajendramoksham and Sudama. Some of the audience members observed that Kalamandalam Lata’s choreography had endowed the presentation with a distinctive Kerala touch. The narration in English made the stories easy to understand, and the music was rendered by accomplished artists from India, including vocalist Sangeetharatnam C. Ramachandran, Mukkam Salim on Mridangam, and Trissur Muralikrishna on the Veena.