The escapades of Lord Krishna in a spectacle of music and dance

Dance Drama at Dorothy Winston Centre, Auckland on October 2, 2022

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 31, 2022

Devotees of Lord Krishna, regarded as the ‘latest Avatar of Vishnu’ (although more than 5000 years ago) will be delighted to watch His escapades, pranks and diplomacy at a forthcoming production that promises high quality charged with high energy.

‘Krishna Leela,’ is the name of the programme that will be presented on Sunday, October 2, 2022, at Dorothy Winstone Centre of the Auckland Girls Grammar School located at 16 Howe Street, Freeman’s Bay in Auckland City.

‘Nrityabhinaya,’ popularly known as ‘Anuradha’s School of Indian Dances,’ headed by the celebrated Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi exponent and teacher Anuradha Ramkumar is organising the event. As well as choreographing the dance sequences, she has produced and directed ‘Krishna Leela,’ which will add to her long list of achievements.

Showcasing local talent

“The forthcoming production will not only highlight Indian culture and heritage but also showcase local talent with a backdrop of professional music, lighting, props and digital theatre backdrop projections. More than 100 students of Anuradha’s School of Indian Dances are participating in this production,” Ms Ramkumar said.

Pursuit of perfection is an attribute of Anuradha Ramkumar’s students (Photo Supplied)

People who have witnessed ‘Ramayanam’ and ‘Mahabharatam’ that she produced, directed, choreographed and staged in May 2007 and April 2008 extolling the life and times of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, can expect an even higher level of professionalism in the ensuing show.

Following their highly successful runs in Auckland, ‘Ramayanam’ and ‘Mahabharatam’ were staged twice in Wellington, the proceeds from which were donated to ‘The Karunai Illam Trust,’ run by Jean Watson of Wellington.

Ms Ramkumar also produced ‘Margam,’ donating the earnings to the Lord Ganesha Temple located in the South Auckland suburb of Papakura.

‘Surya Putra Karna,’ staged in 2019 was one of the finest productions of the Dance School. Ms Ramkumar had scripted the famous Mahabharatam hero to perfection. As well as bringing to light the qualities and emotions of Karna, the Son of Sun, this programme reiterated her eye for details and penchant for perfection.

The ‘Maha Yugas’ that she presented in 2022 was yet another demonstration of her proficiency to adapt and develop various aspects of ancient Hindu scriptures and teachings. It was no surprise that the programme received wide acclaim.

About Krishna Leela

The single most significant factor that distinguishes Hinduism from other faiths is the freedom that it accords to its practitioners.

God is perceived by the individual in any way he or she desires – as the Master, Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, Uncle, Aunt, Lover and even as a Servant. Indian Literature abounds in experiences of ordinary devotees who can ‘summon’ the God of their choice to grant a boon, to perform an errand or simply for a chat.

Similarly, ‘Krishna Leela’ has been subject to varied interpretations by his contemporaries, the most notable among whom is Saint Vyasa, revered as a form of Lord Shiva.

Pursuit of perfection is an attribute of Anuradha Ramkumar’s students (Photo Supplied)

There are however some common stories that are related to ‘Krishna Leela.’ These describe the Lord as a ‘Butter Thief,’ as a prankster who would tease young women, as a playboy who reportedly courted hundreds of damsels. He is also credited with great valour demonstrated in the conquest of Kalinga, a multiheaded serpent capable of killing anyone with his venom. Krishna, as a young boy, danced on the head of the serpent. This act is celebrated as Naga Nathaiya of Naga Nritya.

In later years, Krishna played a critical role in returning the Kingdom of Indraprastha to the Pandavas who had lost it to Kauravas, their cousins. Krishna Leela here takes the form of a cunning messenger and charioteer to engineer Pandavas’ victory.

The adages, “All is fair in love and war,’ and ‘Truth will triumph’ are attributed to Lord Krishna.

The Bhagavat Geetha, which Krishna delivered at the Battle of Kurukshetra as a sermon to Pandava warrior Arjuna is considered one of the most sacred books by Hindus.

Ms Ramkumar is expected to incorporate some of these aspects in her ‘Krishna Leela.

“The commentary and narration for this dance drama will be provided in English, which will make it easily comprehensible. This would definitely evoke the interest of various cross-sections of the society, transcending language and other barriers,” she said.

Anuradha Ramkumar was honoured with a Special Commemoration Award for her services to Art and Culture at the Eighth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts and Culture Awards held in Auckland on June 20, 2022 (Photo Supplied)

About Anuradha Ramkumar 

Anuradha Ramkumar is known for her high standards of teaching and mentoring, choreography, production, direction and most importantly, discipline, which she imparts to her students. She expects her students (there have been thousands of them over the past three decades) to have unwavering devotion and commitment to the art of Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi and other forms of Indian classics.

Not all students of ‘Nrityabhinaya,’ or Anuradha’s School of Indian Dances have taken up the art as a profession but all of them have learnt the significance of pursuing excellence in their life and career and also appreciate Indian culture and heritage.

With more than 30 years of experience, Ms Ramkumar has earned the expertise to preserve, project and promote Indian art and culture in India, Dubai and for the past 25 years in New Zealand. She has dedicated herself to the preservation and enhancement of these ancient dance forms by nurturing in her students a keen interest and love for this art. Her instruction emphasises the importance of teaching this ancient art in its pure and pristine form and she brought out the best of Bharatha Natyam dancers to the fore.

Multicultural platforms

She and her students have been credited for their performances at various prestigious occasions including Kiwi Ora Open Day, World Organisation of Music and Dance (WOMAD), Hamilton Theme Gardens opening ceremony, Westfield Style Pacifica Awards, Villa-Maria Fashion Awards, AK05, Civic Theatre Flamingo Curtain Opening Ceremony (2000), Haka meets Hindu (fusion of Maori and Indian cultures) Festival of India, Diwali Festivals, Chinese New Year and a host of other community events.

Ms Ramkumar has produced, directed and presented numerous mythological and thematic dance productions to critical acclaim and large growing audiences throughout New Zealand.

If the performance of pupils bespeaks the calibre of a teacher, there is ample proof of a justifiably proud pedagogue in Auckland.

From various centres in India to Dubai and the rest of the world, Anuradha Ramkumar’s students have been ebullient ambassadors of the Subcontinent’s rich culture and heritage, told in the art form of Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi.

“The institution aims to provide maximum exposure to Indian classical dance forms in New Zealand, train and provide tutelage to students in keeping with the spirit and ethos of classicism but in consonance with contemporary taste and sensibility,” Ms Ramkumar said.

She received a Special Commemoration Award for her exemplary services to the Indian Classical Dances at the Eighth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts and Culture Awards held on June 20, 2022.

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