Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Creating a new performance space in Chidambaram

Reporting two parallel festivals is not easy; even if the venues are about 800metres away. One inside the temple in Chidambaram and one off the busy South Car Street.

We chose to hop twice before our tired bodies said stop; though the day temperature is about 32degrees it is cool after dusk.

The alternate site chosen by the Natyanjali Trust which had been elbowed out of the temple by the Dikshitars was actually a nice one. It is part of the sprawling properties of the MAM Ramaswamy Chettiar family and this piece of ground lies behind a row of chat rams ( wedding/rest halls).

Over five days, men cleared the vegetation, trimmed a few trees and imported lorry loads of river sand to even the ground. A stage was set, the props added to make it look aesthetic and the lights, sound and TV displays set in place.

And when the first of the recitals rolled out, the space got a charm of its own. Quiet, compact and neat. It certainly was not as it had been in the great temple. Those vibes were missing. And one could feel it. The hosts certainly did. They seem a tad disappointed. But they smiled now and then.

There were some nice performances too . Chennai based guru Divya Sena led her students of the TN University for Music and Dance and USA based Pooja Bhalerao who had flown in specially to perform in Chidambaram gave a great finale - a student of guru Dr Sandhya Purecha, it was her night to remember. ( photo here is of Pooja)

Over 1500 people sat here during the 8 to 9 pm recitals; the crowd thinned out as they walked out to go to the temple on Sivaratri night.

The hosts are hoping it will be packed here the rest of the four evenings. If that happens they will be happily compensated for the huge disappointment of being refused permission to stage their 34th festival inside the great temple.

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