Dance Dramas in Detail

A glance at the list of dance dramas they have produced reveals the wide variety of themes and sources ranging from the mythological (Sivaleela and Kambaramayanam), the literary (Meghasandesa and Kalingathu-p-parani), the biographical (Annamacharya and Yashodhara), the scholarly (Natya Veda) to the contemporary (Voice of Ganga and Bharathi kanda Bharatham). Applying creativity and imagination they have shown that even non-traditional subject matter is suitable for entertaining, meaningful exposition through the medium of classical dance.

Dance Drama in detail

Dance Drama in detail

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Nrityankita(1973)Go to main <<

Literally, ‘One dedicated to dance’, this was the very first dance-drama of the Charis and in some respects, the most challenging too! This is the story of a young girl who is trained by her father to be an accomplished dancer and is ‘in the service of dance’ at the feet of lord Nataraja. The Guru, though an erudite scholar and an artiste un-paralleled, is troubled by the arrival of the hero on the scene seeking to be taught. The guru fears to be overshadowed by the brilliance of this young man. In the mean time, love blossoms between the two youngsters who wish to be united in matrimony.  The rest of the story is formed by a stiff competition in dance to be won by the young dancers at the end of which, the   senior Guru himself challenges the hero. In the process, the audience gets to see the four classical styles, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Kathakali. Lyrics Premendra.

Girija Kalyanam (1975)

Girija Kalyanam (1975)Go to main <<

The story of Shiva and Parvathi and their divine wedding offers boundless scope for dramatization. Drawing the lyrics from Yogi Suddhananda Bharati’s compositions, this dance drama offers wholesome entertainment to the young and the old alike.

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum(1980)

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum(1980)Go to main <<

This thematic presentation is a compilation of the three ‘Ashtakams’ on Krishna: Krishanashtakam, Mathurashtakam and Gokulashtakam. Music by M.S. Sriram

Annamacharya (1981)

Annamacharya (1981)Go to main <<

Choreographed and presented exclusively for the Sri Venkateswara temple, Pittsburgh, the story of Annamacharya, the saint-poet of the 15th century, this dance-drama employs several of the kritis of Annamayya to bring out the mortal and spiritual journey of the great saint.   Lyrics by Yamijala Padmanabha Swami

Shiva Leela (1981)

Shiva Leela (1981)Go to main <<

This work, which is a dramatic presentation of episodes drawn from the Siva Purana, has been performed in several parts of India and excerpts from the same at several places abroad.  Lyrics Yamijala Padmanabha Swami
“a delightful dance drama…drew thunderous applause from the audience who sat glued to their seats throughout the recital.”- Indian Express, Vijayawada

Bharati Kannamma (1982)

Bharati Kannamma (1982)Go to main <<

Both of these works reflect the ideas and ideals if the poet – patriot, Subramanya Bharathi. His vision of a perfect Bharat, of national integration, social reforms, and protection of forests and wild life are all depicted in a powerful manner. Sponsored by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu, these dance-dramas were performed in several cities of India as Interstate Cultural Exchange Programmes, as well as at Mauritius. Lyrics – Subrahmanya Bharathi, Bharathi dasan and Ponnadiyan
“The ideals and dreams of the great Subramanya Bharathi of a free and prosperous India was expressed passionately and touchingly…imaginatively and skillfully culled and arranged in this dance drama.”- Indian Express, Chennai


Kambaramayanam(1985)Go to main <<

Based entirely on the original work on the Ramayana of poet Kamban, this was composed for the “Kamban Festival” at Terazindur, the birth place of Kamban in Tamil Nadu. Powerful characters, scenes charged with emotion, and the comfort deriving from the assurance of the ‘triumph of Good over Evil’- all combine together making this dance drama an all time favorite. Compiling and additions by Puttaneri Subramaniam

Yasodhara and Vasavadatta(1985)

Yasodhara and Vasavadatta(1985)Go to main <<

The lyrics as well as the music for these dance dramas are by Prof. V. Subramaniam of Carleton University, Canada. These productions were featured both in Burma (Myanmar) and Canada as part of the ICCR sponsored tours.


Manimegalai(1986)Go to main <<

Manimegalai enjoys a special place of honour in the Buddhist literature and her story has been a source of inspiration to generations of enthusiasts and artists. Manimegalai , a courtesan by birth, renounces the world and embraces Buddhism. Her life poses many challenges beginning with the prince himself falling passionately in love with her and following her constantly. By the grace of the Buddha,  she receives an ‘Amuda Surabhi’ or a vessel containing delicious food  that never gets empty. With the help of this special vessel , she feeds the poor stating that ‘Hunger and Poverty’, the root causes of all evil should be eradicated which by itself will pave the way for good things to follow.Lyrics- Puttaneri Subramanyam

Megha Sandesa(1987)

Megha Sandesa(1987)Go to main <<

Based on Kalidasa’s famous Sanskrit play, it is considered to be the finest among romantic poetry and unquestionably one of the masterpieces of world literature. This dance drama in the classical Bharatanatyam & Kuchipudi styles is interspersed with rhythmic folk dances and lilting melodies. Taken from the original work of Kalidasa with additions sensitively done by Yamijala Padmanabha Swami, an erudite Sanskrit scholar, this work was first performed at Ujjain for the Kalidasa Samaroh. “The programme bore ample testimony to the Herculean effort put in by the director to make the presentation worthy of the theme.”-Indian Express, Chennai


Kalingathu-p-parani(1988)Go to main <<

A dramatization of the famous Tamil epic poem describing the war waged by Kulotunga Chola against the king of Kalinga. This work is significant for its literary value and unusual blend of Sringara and Raudra rasas.
“Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi, the talented dancing couple of Madras, are not only expert artistes but also have a penchant for choreographing unusual themes like the ‘kalingattuparani’ of Jayamkondar in Tamil. Narasimhacharis’ ingenuity and stagecraft…. with a team of 13 dancers and 6 musicians… translated the difficult theme into wholesome entertainment.”- Indian Express, Madras

Voice of Ganga(1989)

Voice of Ganga(1989)Go to main <<

This production was a challenging one for it had to strike a convincing balance between a traditional personification of the Goddess Ganga and a depiction of the present day problem of pollution in the river Ganga with its disastrous consequences for the environment and lives of people. This was presented at the “Clean Ganga Project” inaugurated by Rajiv Gandhi at Varanasi. Lyrics by Dr.Puttaneri Subramaniam.

Ritu Samhara(1991)

Ritu Samhara(1991)Go to main <<

Based on another work by Kalidasa, this was choreographed for the Charis’ 1991 tour of North America. Like “Meghasandesa”, it presented the challenge of dramatizing a poem with rich language but little plot. With imagination and interesting choreography, however, the Charis successfully brought this poem about the ‘passage of seasons to life’.

Jesus Christ (1992)

Jesus Christ (1992)Go to main <<

Based on the Christian literature, this thematic presentation depicts several anecdotes such as the story of ‘Mary Magdeleine’ which opens our eyes to the concept of sin and repentance.

Natya Veda(Vision of Bharatha)

Natya Veda(Vision of Bharatha)Go to main <<

Created for Doordarshan’s “National Programme of Dance’ series, this work subtitled, “Bharatha’s Vision”, dramatized the Natyasastra, the ancient treatise on dance attributed to Bharata. All the elements of Natya were represented with examples shown from the major Indian classical dance styles.

Vikas Ki Chunauthi(1993)

Vikas Ki Chunauthi(1993)Go to main <<

Specially choreographed and conceived for the Singer Company India, this dance production incorporated managerial, marketing and competitive strategies and the inclusion of ethical practices and principles in the growth of a company. Lyrics by Manojit Sen.

Saranam Aiyappa(1994)

Saranam Aiyappa(1994)Go to main <<

Aiyappa, the lord of Sabarimalai is worshipped as ‘Kaliyuga Pratyaksha Deivam’ or the Lord who is easily accessible in this Kali yuga.  Manikanta as the Lord was called at birth, is born of the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu (as Mohini) and therefore worshipped as ‘Hari-Hara suta’, the son of Vishnu and Shiva. One chief purpose behind this incarnation is the annihilation of Mahishi, an invincible demoness, while the other and perhaps more relevant purpose being the unifying of Shaiva and Vaishnava schools of thought which were at logger heads. The entire story of Aiyappa is etched enacted accompanied by interesting narration and dramatization with telling effect. Lyrics were provided by Tamiz Nambi.
“An aura of religious fervour was maintained right through. Many among the viewers instinctively uncrossed their legs and folded their hands in prayer. The high point of the dance drama was the final sequence…it was a scene that truly stirred the hearts of the viwers.”- Indian Express, Chennai

Leeye Parabrahmani (1995)

Leeye Parabrahmani (1995)Go to main <<

“Leeye Parabrahmani” (Absorption in the Absolute) is a thematic presentation in Bharathanatyam style based on the concept of Nava Vidha Bhakti , the nine modes of devotion. Through dance and music, it seeks to highlight the eternal and universal truth that, with faith, devotion and intense yearning, the individual human soul will surely reach the feet of the lord and merge in the supreme brahman. The lyrics for this work have been drawn from various sources and are sung in different languages to stress the universality of its message which knows no bounds of community, race or religion.
“Entertaining, educative, and, above all, inspiring, Leeye Parabrahmani has been enthusiastically received by audiences as a profoundly moving theatrical and spiritual experience.”- Kala Nivedanam, Nashville

Pallaki Seva Prabandham (1996)

Pallaki Seva Prabandham (1996)Go to main <<

Pallaki Seva Prabandham, a 17th century opera of King Shahji has been choreographed by the Charis. The Sangeetha master recording company has brought out an audio album of the same in January’98. This is available for sale in all leading music stores.
“The highlight of the opera was the scene of the palanquin, the description of its beauty…was presented beautifully. The high point of the whole production was certainly the rich, deep, skilful and soulful singing of Narasimhachari.” – The Hindu, Chennai

Ainthinai (2000)

Ainthinai (2000)Go to main <<

In Sangam poetry, the Tamil country was divided into five regions collectively known as ‘Ainthinai’. On the one hand, these divisions represented the exterior landscapes together with the people, their lives and culture- while on the other, these five ‘thinais’ also stood for the emotional states of the lover and his beloved. It is this unique contribution of the ancient Tamils to poetry that is being highlighted in this production. Set in chaste classical idiom, interspersed with vibrant folk dances and lilting melodies, this dance-drama ensures an interesting traversal of Ainthinai, a landscape of emotions.
This production featured as many as 46 dancers including professionals in the field. It also features Smt. Revathy Sankkaran, the popular television artiste as Virali, and Sri.Gajendran,a well-known singer and lyricist as Paanar, the travelling bards. It was recognized as a remarkable piece of work as it brought together the entire bharathanatyam fraternity in Chennai irrespective of the school of dance or style they belonged to and was the first of its kind.
“Involvement, Hard work, deep commitment and perfect coordination were evident in the production of Ainthinai….Narasimhachari has put in enormous efforts in bringing together over 40 young dancers from several disciplines…the audience response was something special.”-The Hindu, Chennai

Man (2002)

Man (2002)Go to main <<

Performed in a festival titled “Bharatham Trikalam”, this thematic presentation gives a vivid description of man through the ages.  Man evolved out of the ape and grew in terms of capacity and knowledge. Similarly, if the Man of Today recognizes and realizes his inner potential to become one with the Divine and manifest it, Tomorrow’s Man will be the Super Man. Lyrics by Ponnadiyan.


Ainthinai(2004)Go to main <<

Landscape of Emotions

Sangam poetry, the Tamil country was divided into five regions collectively known as ‘Ainthinai’. On the one hand, these divisions represented the exterior landscapes together with the people, their lives and culture- while on the other, these five ‘thinais’ also stood for the emotional states of the lover and his beloved.The emotions experienced being universal, one would find in this production a single story-line running smoothly irrespective of the lyrics being in different languages. In order to reach out to a wider section of audience, the lyrics have been deliberately set in as many as five languages. The languages used are: Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and Telugu.
Set in chaste classical idiom, interspersed with vibrant folk dances, dazzling costumes and lilting melodies, this dance-drama ensures an interesting traversal of Ainthinai, a landscape of emotions. The concept, which remained untouched due to its complexity, was choreographed and conceived with the help of the mridangam doyen Sri.D.A.Srinivas.
A 9 member troupe from India in collaboration with the Maya School of Dance (26 students) in Oklahoma took The Landscape of Emotions to the USA and was premiered in Okhlahoma State on the 26-27 of June, 2004. The Mayor of Oklahoma declared June 26 as the ‘Day of Narasimhachari & Vasanthalakshmi’ in honour of this rare and significant piece of work.
“An atmosphere of bliss pervaded, and a deep sense of devotion through art, for universal peace, remained predominant at that moment, focusing on the need of the hour.”- The Hindu, Chennai


Subhashiham(Morality Tales) 2005

Subhashiham(Morality Tales) 2005Go to main <<

India, the land of spirituality and wisdom is the birth-place of many a great saint. Having come into the world with the sole aim of uplifting humankind, these spiritual guides have sought to impart valuable life-lessons in a manner intelligible to the common person. They presented multifaceted spiritual principles in the form of simple stories that would at once entertain and educate the masses. This production is a series of short stories from the panchatantra and the Jataka tales.

Saranu Venkata Nayaka, 2010

Saranu Venkata Nayaka, 2010Go to main <<

Saranu Venkata Nayaka, 2010

Based  on  Annamaya’s journey to Tirumala Tirupathi, this dance-drama was specially choreographed and performed at the TTD Music and Dance Festival in March, 2010 on a stage specially created just outside the main sanctum sanctorium of the temple. The entire production, with over 30 dancers, was telecast live on television.