LEXINGTON, MA–Vision-Aid, a Lexington, MA based non-profit organization serving the visually impaired in India, held its 13th annual fundraising dance drama “Shakthi – the Essence of Empowered Women” on Sunday. This year’s show was unique because it came to audiences virtually in the midst of a pandemic!
Months of hard work by a large team which included the Producer, Artistic Directors, event organizers, volunteers and dancers paid off big dividends. Vision-Aid reported that 707 tickets were sold to households globally to its virtual show and estimated the viewing audience to be much larger (well over one thousand) since each household had multiple viewers.
Ujwala Phene, volunteer Vision-Aid Director, in charge of the complex ticketing logistics remarked – “It was really exciting to see the huge spike build up as we got closer to the start. In just the last hour of the show, we were getting one ticket order every minute , but fortunately we had prepared well and all systems ran smoothly. Everyone who wanted to join us, did!”
This show was brought to audiences virtually and was produced by renowned choreographer Guru Madurai R. Muralidaran of Chennai India, ably assisted by his daughter Kavya Muralidaran and Boston area Artistic Directors Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Sujatha Meyyappan, Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, Marishakthi Muthuswamy, Thenu Raajan, Hema Iyengar and Dhanashree Karmakar pulling together sixty of the brightest dance talent in the New England area. The Artistic Directors are also supported by senior dance students like Anjanadevi Govindaraj, Chitanya Gopu, Priyanka Joshi, Shilpa Narayanan, Neha Pillai, Adithi Venkatesan and Ananya Venkatesan.
Mr. Puran Dang, Chairman of Vision-Aid, welcomed the audience and introduced the Chief Guests. The Chief Guests/keynote speakers were Anuradha and Prashanth Palakurthi, a very well-known, dynamic couple in New England, much admired for their personal talents and accomplishments, philanthropic endeavors as well as encouragement of arts and culture. A significant surprise followed Palakurthi’s powerful keynote address – with the announcement that the couple will fund the creation of a new Vasantha and Krupa Sagar Palakurthi Vision-Aid center to be opened up in Hyderabad India soon.
Chief Guests Anuradha & Prashanth Palakurthi
The Chief Guest’s speech was followed by Guest of Honor Ram & Meetu Gupta of Carlisle, MA. Mr. Ram Gupta spoke about how he feels inspired by the heavy volunteer engagement in Vision-Aid, noting that in the US it is a 100% volunteer run organization, whereby the donor’s money goes to work directly in projects in India with no expenditure on overheads.
Guests of Honor, Meetu & Ram Gupta
Other speakers included Venkat and Pratima Srinivasan, Vivek and Vandana Sharma, Subu & Virginia Kota, Dr.(s) Suraja & Debashish Roychowdhury, Ranjani & Anil Saigal, and Nalini & Raj Sharma.
Guests of Honor, Pratima & Venkat Srinivasan
Guests of Honor, Vandana & Vivek Sharma
Guests of Honor, Virginia and Subu Kota
Guests of Honor Dr.(s) Suraja & Debashish Roychowdhury
Guests of Honor Ranjani & Anil Saigal
Guests of Honor Nalini and Raj Sharma
Notable addition to the featured guests included Aditi Shah, a former Vision-Aid student who now works at MicroSoft in Seattle and through the company’s giving program generates financial support for Vision-Aid, making this a unique example where a former beneficiary is a benefactor for the cause. A short film was screened featuring Aditi Shah and her mentor Sonal Patel.
The producer and Artistic Directors weaved together 60 dancers into a unique, themed show where every dancer’s movements were video-edited with other dancers to produce a masterful choreography. Even though every dancer performed in the safety of their own home, brilliant video editing resulted in a unified show.
This year also Vision-Aid awarded its highest recognition – “The Vision-Aid Ambassador”, to those dancers who had helped to raise the most funds for Vision-Aid’s cause during the event. The winners this year are Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Ashmita Boopathy, Adilakshmi Gollapudi, Shefali Bakre and Arya Swamy.
Jeyanthi Ghatraju’s significant contributions to this event need a special mention. In addition to being the Founding Artistic Director and a Vision-Aid Ambassador, she was one of the early proponents of going “Virtual for Vision-Aid” at a time, when many wondered if it was feasible.
The talented Kavya Muralidharan from India and the Artistic Directors Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Sujatha Meyyappan, Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, Marishakthi Muthuswamy, Thenu Raajan, Hema Iyengar and Dhanashree Karmakar were joined by sixty amazing dancers from the New England area:
Aanya Challuri, Aarna Mahadevan, Aarya Atale, Aashna Diddee, Abhilasha Banka, Adhithi Venkatesan, Adhiti Hariram, Adilakshmi Gollapudi, Amal Balachundhar, Anamika Nair, Ananya Venkatesan, Anika Nambiar, Anjanadevi Govindaraj, Archita Nemalikanti, Arya Swamy, Ashmita Boopathy, Ashvitha Eyalarasan, Avantika Nair, Bhargavi Devarajan, Chetana Yella, Chitanya Gopu, Dhanashree Karmakar, Disha Surajiwale, Eesha Gangal, Gayatri Chaturvedi, Harini Jeyaraman, Janya Utkarsh, Kaavya Kumaran, Kaiyal Kumaran, Katya Scaria, Kavya Krishnan, Kavya Muralidaran, Lara Scaria, Mihika Abraham, Neha Rajesh, Neha Pillai, Nikita Minocha, Nishi Manikandan, Pooja Kawatkar, Praksitha Rajasekaran, Prisha Nambiar, Priyanka Joshi, Sanvi Reddy, Sejal Shirole, Sheethal Udupa, Shefali Bakre, Shilpa Narayanan, Shirin Bakre, Shivani Suraj, Shivani Shah, Siddhi Talekar, Sijie Wang, Sonal Setty, Sonia Lakshmanan, Tarika Sridhar, Vaidehi Moorthy, Viritha Reddy.
Vision-Aid Leadership team members who worked on the Event Committee tirelessly for weeks leading upto the event, on ticketing, brochure, logistics and fundraising included Puran Dang, Lalit Sudan, Veena Handa, Revathy Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna Raju, Syed Ali Rizvi, Paramesh Garimella, Ujwala Phene, Sonal Bakre, Rita Vachani, Vineeta Kumar, Ravi Rastogi, Sudhir Varma, Dr. Aparna Raghuram, Dr. Bharti Gangwani, Lovely Singh, Dr. Ramkumar Ramamirtham and Dr. Arun Kumar Krishnan.
Vision-Aid thanked videographers, Krish Velmurugan of KrispFotos fame, Anand Kavalapara of AKA Imagery fame, Nara Narayanan and JK Sathyamurthy, for the amount of time spent over weekends for the video shoot, followed by hours editing the clips. Vision-Aid also thanked the Choreographer Muralidharan and his daughter, Kavya for imaginatively putting together the videos for 4 of the dance items, and expressed grateful thanks to Anand Kavalapara, Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, Hema Iyengar, and Suja Meyyappan for editing the videos of the remaining four of the dance items.
Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, one of the Artistic Directors remarked after the show “I never expected a virtual show could be this engaging. As always, Vision-Aid has set the bar for how professional a program can be. Awesome logistics. It is a privilege to dance under Guru Muralidharan’s direction and in collaboration with the vibrant New England community of dancers and teachers to support Vision-Aid’s stellar mission. In these unusual times, the production has provided an especially rewarding opportunity—through both the practice sessions and show itself- to connect virtually yet meaningfully with so many others. I am humbled to take part and am in even more awe than ever at the impact Vision-Aid has on the lives of the visually impaired, in spite of the hurdles of the pandemic.”
Mr. Puran Dang summed it up for Vision-Aid when he said, “The noble mission of Vision-Aid excited the entire community here and abroad. Hard work of the Founders, Board Members, Advisors and our admirable Volunteers elevated Vision Aid to a new level. The entire Dance and Song stars of Boston prepared the dazzling show under the amazing Guru Muralidharan in India. It was a technology challenge to cover the entire USA and India and some other countries! Our Technology Team did wonders! The great English poet Byron, wrote in one of his poems ” Facts are stranger than fiction ‘” ……The colorful rainbow of huge success proved that it was no fiction but a shining example of what devotion to a noble cause can accomplish. I invite all to join us in the cause of educating and empowering the vision impaired children and adults to live a dignified life. I have no words to thank our sponsors and well-wishers who joined and contributed to propel Vision Aid to greater heights”
To learn more about Vision-Aid or support us please visit www.VisionAid.org