Seelu Bidirina Sillu - A short story transformed into solo free style narrative dance  
- Bhramari Devi  
Photos: Shivaprakash Rao 
August 7, 2007 

Prof. Udyavara Madhava Acharya of Udupi, Karnataka, a noted Kannada short story writer, choreographer and director of dance dramas presented a solo ballet under the auspices of Prastapa, a Kannada literary group in New Jersey, USA on 29th July 2007. He adopted one of his stories "Seelu Bidirina Sillu" into an innovative free style ballet.  The theme was Shri Krishna's last phase of Avatara. 

Prof Acharya's performance of course does not belong to any specific form of classical dance (he is only a theatre person as he confessed).  He attempted the feasibility of theatrical presentation of a short story, using simple and minimal dance gestures and moods. He relied heavily on free but artistic movement of the body as well as expressions to convey the intricate moods of the story.  

"Seelu Bidirina Sillu" literally translated as "Shrill of the broken pipe" depicts the sorrow felt by Krishna while playing the flute, although his devotees feel utmost melody in the sound.  In essence, the story contains a revelation by Krishna himself of humane success and failure of an Avatara purusha's spiritual mission on this earth to his ardent devotee Uddhava on the sea shore at Prabhasa.  In the story, Prof. Acharya describes various stages of Krishna's life particularly noticeable were the short yet tender affection he enjoyed in his mother's lap inside the prison as well as outside the prison in Gokula in the midst of innocent rural folk. 

This complex theme was presented by Prof Acharya with necessary emotional expressions. The presentation began with the entry of an unknown person (revealed as Uddhava at the end) who meets a black charming person with a broken flute (Krishna).  Uddhava hears from Krishna's mouth the saga of eternal life.  The 50 minute production involved major events of Krishnavatara.  He translated each event, aptly into stage language through emotional rendering of story in his own voice.  His voice modulations were supported by bits of rhythmic musical links. The narration, the artistic movements, moods and expressions were carefully orchestrated by Prof Acharya to make his presentation more effective.  

The small gathering which witnessed this unique attempt later opined in their interaction that  
1. a trained dancer could take up this type of verbal background more efficiently than a theatre person 
2. the abstract aspects of the story at some points do demand more sophisticated dance techniques 
3. while commenting on the story, the group appreciated the meaningful connection between Vasthrapahara at Nandagokula and offering of unlimited sarees (akshayaambara) to Draupadi in the court of Kauravas by Krishna.  

Nevertheless the emotional impact of the production was well received. 

Acharya has produced more than 50 different dance dramas and theatrical productions under the banner SAMOOHA. During 2004, he had brought his cultural ensemble to the USA and presented traditional Yakshagana as well as experimental solo presentations Panchali and Shabari.