Banyan Tree (Vata Vriksha), the magnum opus dance-theatre production of Bharatanatyam guru and choreographer Lakshmi Vishwanathan is to be presented all over again this September in Chennai.
It was premiered in Brandeis University in 1995 and the September 9 show will be held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai.
With a new cast of ten dancers, joining Lakshmi and Vinayan, this original work reveals the story of dance in South India, and takes the viewer on a journey of discovery.
Banyan Tree was Lakshmi's first large canvas.
She produced it with the extensive research and painstaking teaching of every move, every expression and every step to new groups of young dancers.
Banyan Tree played ten shows in 1995-96 season, toured the USA, played in Indian dance festivals and was shown also on national television.
This oeuvre has also been a subject of research by foreign dance scholars and was written about in journals, says Lakshmi.
As a trained musician under gurus Thedhiyur Narayanaswamy (Semmangudi's disciple), Tiruvayyar Krishnamurthy, Alamelu Viswanathan and T.Muktha, Lakshmi takes charge of the music for her shows, selecting original music, as well as using classic compositions, arranging the score played by various instruments, and composing suitable tunes for verses like those of Subramanya Bharathi.
Lakshmi says she also designs the appropriate costumes, choosing hand-woven cottons and silks.