AIKYA BHAARATAM (a chain of classical and folk dances of India) (1970) (Collaboration)
The first major break came when the Dhananjayans were invited to be part of a cultural exchange. In 1970, they were invited, to perform in SE Asia with their troupe. Someone had seen the variety program presented by them and for the inauguration of the then Malaysia Singapore Airlines, Bharata Kalanjali was nominated to be taken there for a cultural program exchange with their counterparts visiting India later. The group at that time consisted of very young students, with only Shanta and Dhananjayan being the older members of the troupe. In order to have a regular professional company, they harnessed their colleagues from Kalakshetra like Adyar Lakshman, the newly married Narasimhachari and his wife Vasanthalakshmi who was a tender 15 years of age, and formed the Bharata Kalanjali Dance Troupe. They envisaged an innovative program called Aikya Bhaaratam comprising of folk and classical dance from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Aikya Bhaaratam, the Dances of India was designed to integrate India through folk and classical dances from different regions, with authentic costumes, music and dance. It vividly depicted the Indian culture, the life and rhythm about the abundant beauty of rustic rituals in dances and music covering the length and breadth of India. The presentation commemorated the introduction of MSA’s new Boeing 707 fanjet service between Singapore - Kuala Lumpur - Madras and symbolized the new link between the 2 countries.

Aikya Bhaaratam was such a big hit that it has been performed more than 3000 times over a span of 30 years. The legacy, including costumes, has been transferred to senior students of Bharata Kalanjali who, with their students, present the various items, maintaining the basic structure but with changes in repertoire.

Following the success of this foreign tour, Bharata Kalanjali became a name to be reckoned with and there were lots of invitations for Shanta and Dhananjayan to perform not in conservative Chennai, but out of town, as a duo.

"I got this idea from a program I had done with the students as a faculty member of Kalakshetra, to collect funds for the jawans during the Indo Pak war of 1965 / 66. This idea did not go with Kalakshetra’s strict adherence to tradition but was successful all the same and collected a lot of money. It was a very colourful show. There was no money to make costumes, so we borrowed some money and Shanta made them at home."

"Being Kalakshetra products, we were well trained in everything from making costumes to dance makeup, architecture, lighting… everything with relevance was taught at Kalakshetra. Costumes for Kalakshetra dance dramas had been made by the students who observed and worked with specialists coming in from Kerala, thereby learning how to make crowns, jewellery items, even ankle bells that we used to sew ourselves. All that knowledge came in useful to prepare for this tour."

"Malaysia Singapore Airlines had organized a beautiful tour at very big venues, with a lot of publicity. The Bharata Kalanjali troupe and the Malaysia Singapore artists gave a combined recital at the University Centenary Auditorium in Madras. It was a grand success and gave a big boost to the reputation of the Bharata Kalanjali troupe."

AIKYA BHAARATAM - Reviews - Photo Album