The definitive information resource for South Asian dance in the UK
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson
  • Image credit: Simon Richardson

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Martina Ghinetti

Start date: 11 Jun 2016

End date: 11 Jun 2016

Time: 5 pm

Price: Free

Venue: The Junction, Clifton Way, Cambridge, CB1 7GX

Venue address: Cambridge Junction, Clifton Way, Cambridge CB1 7GX, United Kingdom



Review of Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Martina ghinetti, disciple of Smt. Krishna Zivraj-Nair, Artistic Director, Sanskruti School of Dance, Cambridge, UK

For a Bharatanatyam student, an arangetram is a much anticipated event. In Martina Ghinetti’s case, it may have arrived too soon! The remarks, comments and observations throughout the event gave me a fascinating glimpse into the process that brought Martina to this stage. Her training with Krishna Zivraj-Nair, the move to London, the return to Cambridge for arangetram rehearsals, her dance colleagues and their generous parents, all combined to show that this was a labour of love for this eager student of Bharatanatyam from Italy.
Martina dazzled on stage in her lovely costumes – two pyjama and one skirt costume. Her blue and red pant costume was as good as the red and white pyjama costume. Her stage presence was further enhanced by the stunning ochre and blue skirt costume.
Martina has good natural azhutham (internal tautness), but this needs to be consistently employed in her dancing. Her engaging abinaya and impressive understanding of language were a treat to the audience. For someone living in Europe and having been introduced to indic languages through dance, her synchrony with the sahityam was a testimony to her flair for languages. The most glaring shortcoming of the evening’s performance was Martina’s lack of layam. Not having a feedback microphone did not do her any favours. Martina needs to work on layam, lack of an innate sense of layam need not be a barrier to developing it.
The programme started with a Pushpanjali in Ragam Nattai, Thalam Adi, followed by Alarippu in Kanda Chapu – a tough composition, but this item seemed well rehearsed and was performed well by Martina. A beautiful piece of movement in the Alarippu is the drukudu thaka towards the end of the item. As the katakhamukhaha mudra changes to alapadma, and the dancer is looking down at the floor, the torso needs to be near parallel to the legs before swooping back up. Martina’s torso bend needs to be improved, as does the Shikara mudra.
Martina chose to perform Kalyani Jathiswaram as the next item. The flautist played some strong Kalyani, the composition was interesting and it was gracefully executed by Martina. Jathiswaram in itself is tough on the stamina, as it comes quite early on in the margham and is a pure nrittha piece, however a slow paced jathiswaram was a bit of an endurance test for Martina!
The Jathiswaram was followed by the Shadham in Ragamalika and Misra Chapu thalam. It was lovely to watch a shabdham as one only gets to watch it at arangetrams. The centre piece of the evening’s recital was the varnam Samiyai azhai thodi vaa sakhiye, in Nava ragamalika and Adi thalam, describes the nayika or the heroine: a devotee pining for Lord Shiva and asking her Sakhi or friend to bring him to her. The nayika yearns for her Lord whose face is as beautiful as the moon. The Trikala jathi was a nice composition and it was enjoyable to watch it, the audience, sadly, did not show a sign of appreciation at the end. On the other hand, they whooped when they saw Martina perform a split, an unusual movement in Bharatanatyam. As she was describing the face of her Lord, which was like the moon, Martina gently descended into a full split and turned to face the moon. The move did not mar her abinaya at all. Well done on the novel incorporation, Martina! Being a gymnast, she seems to be thinking in terms of bringing her dance and gymnastic practice together. Another lovely piece of abinaya was a sanchari where she bribes her sakhi with a bangle to go fetch her Lord, this was a good bit of choreography. Unfortunately, she does need much work on the layam, this was obvious in the varnam when she missed a few arudhis. A couple of pointers for the future would be to keep the dola hasta a bit more removed from the body, and to lift the heel further up before placing them back down in adavus in order to show brisk, clear execution of the adavus. Poor singing in the hecchu sthayi put a damper on proceedings during the varnam.
The second half was a short affair, with a bhajan and thillana. Martina began the bhajan Thumaku chalathu raam Chandra very well, brimming with vatsalya bhaavam, she kept the mood steady throughout the piece and made it an enjoyable watch. The singer managed to do a reasonably good job on this number. Thillana was a very slow number, quite unexpected at this point in the recital. Martina’s teacher Krishna Zivraj-Nair, was on the nattuvangam, she did a heroic job of keeping the layam, with strong sollukattus and nattuvangham. The actual sollus (Dhalanku, for example) lacked polish and finesse, but from the layam perspective, it was all good.
Lia Prentaki, the chief guest of the day summed up the mood of the event well. This was a great way of sharing classical art, she said. Here was a Greek talking about an Italian performing Indian classical dance to a predominantly British-Indian audience at Cambridge. This is the power of art!
As an undergraduate student of law, it would be interesting to see how Martina juggles her interests in both law and dance in the future.

Reviewed by Dr. Chamu Kuppuswamy.



The Sishya (Student) 

Martina started learning Bharatanatyam at the age of 16 when she moved from Italy to Cambridge and has been studying under the guidance of Guru Smt. Krishna Zivraj-Nair for the past three years.

Martina completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma at the Impington Village College International Sixth Form and is now studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She is a first year student at SOAS pursuing an LLB degree in Law.

As a student of Sanskruti, Martina has performed at various cultural events in Cambridge and taken part in Madurai R. Muralidharan’s production “Sivagami Sabadham” in London, 2014. Martina has also attended dance workshops organized by Sanskruti hosting eminent dance artists like Rukmini Vijayakumar (India) and Navia Natarajan (USA), from whom Martina has learnt the finer nuances of Bharatanatyam.

Martina’s extra-curricular activities include volunteering as a GCSE Maths tutor at a secondary school in London, teaching rhythmic gymnastics to children and playing in the University’s basketball team. In her spare time Martina enjoys debating, reading, writing and learning languages.

In terms of dance, Martina hopes to hone her technique and enhance her knowledge on the theory of Bharatanatyam. For this purpose she intends to go to Bangalore this summer for further training with Padma Murali and Rukmini Vijayakumar. Finally, Martina would like to find ways to grow as a dancer by merging her Italian cultural background and her passion for current affairs with Bharatanatyam.


The Guru (Teacher)

Krishna Zivraj-Nair is an Indian classical dancer, choreographer, founder and artistic director of Sanskruti School of Dance, Cambridge, UK. She is trained in the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam, Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Natya Ratna Guru Smt. Padma Murali, director of Padmalaya Dance Foundation in Bangalore, India.

Krishna is a recipient of the Nritya Ratna award by the Government of Odisha, India for her contribution to Bharatanatyam. Krishna sees herself as a dancer, a dance teacher and a choreographer. To keep up with these roles, she continues to receive mentoring by her Guru Padma Murali, Pushkala Gopal and Anusha Subramanyam. She is a member of the ISTD and has also conducted her first Arangetram in February 2015. With these experiences Krishna is ever ready to extend her creativity and reach a wider audience. Her plans for the future are to find methods to grow as a dance artist, create new thought-provoking work that reaches to a wide audience, give performances, and of course continue to teach dance.

As the artistic director, Krishna’s vision is to make Sanskruti School of Dance a reputed centre for learning Indian performing arts and to ensure that the training imparted is of high quality. To this end, Krishna has expanded Sanskruti’s classes in other performing arts including Carnatic Vocals, Veena and Odissi by recruiting experienced, highly motivated and committed teachers to the school. For those who want to do something more light hearted, Krishna has also initiated classes in the popular Bollywood dance style. With a number of performances in various countries, and performing Bharatanatyam for over 28 years, Krishna humbly offers Sanskruti School of Dance to the Cambridge community.