Delightful Kuchipudi performance by Vempati Srimayi
- B Venkat

June 6, 2010

Vempati Srimayi's Kuchipudi performance at Kalabharathi, Visakhapatnam, on World Dance Day, April 29, 2010, holds special significance on more than one count. Srimayi's performance was on the occasion of the felicitation to her Guru and father-in-law, Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam, by AP Government, VAADA, VSSS, and Suvarna Pooja by his disciples and students.

For her selection of kirtanas, it was but natural that she chose the items choreographed by Dr. Vempati. What added specialty is that the three items she performed brought to the connoisseurs, three kirtanas from three saints, her way of felicitating her Guru. The three great saints are Jayadeva, Annamayya and Narayana Thirtha.

The first item that she performed was a Jayadeva Ashtapadi, Pasyati Disi Disi - Jhenjuriti, Bhagyashree, Thillang and Suddha Peelu (all Hindustani ragas), Adi talam.

A reputed dancer mentioned that the item was so composed as to test the dance skills of the performer. With grace in abhinaya, crisp jatis, and depiction of Radha in her loneliness and in separation from her beloved lover, Srimayi did full justice to her reputation.

The second item of her performance was Annamacharya kirtana, "Singara Murthy..." - Kamas ragam, rupaka talam. The item is a visualization of Teppa Utsavam at Tirupathi, of Lord Venkateswara enjoying the flower-bedecked boat ride (poovula teppala meedha). This item was performed well with all its descriptive richness.

Srimayi concluded her performance with a masterpiece "Pooraya mama kamam...", a Narayana Thirtha kirtana - Belahari, Kaara Vaani, Dhanyasi, Kalyani, Kedaragoula and Savari, Adi talam. Here it was, the pièce de résistance. The composition is to be likened to an exquisitely carved sculpture by a master craftsman summoning all his knowledge in the art to provide a visual delight that is timeless and in its beauty extraordinary. Dr Vempati with his unparalleled knowledge and genius in Kuchipudi, composed this item.

Meant for such a special event, Srimayi chose to perform this item as a gift to the audience in Visakhapatnam. This item needs in-depth understanding of not just the literature, not just the feeling and emotional content, but even demands years of practice and facility to the nuances of Kuchipudi dance. Performing this item would qualify the dancer to belong to a select few of Kuchipudi performers. The composition tests the all round ability of the dancer. Srimayi executed the exclusive charis and karanas to perfection. Tisram, Khandam, Misram, and Sankeernam, all Jatis are featured in the composition and found their execution with precision; her feet rhymed with every single beat to accurate timing and rhythm.

In this tarangam, Srimayi re-incarnated as a gopika all knowing that Lord Krishna is the incarnation of Maha Vishnu. The gopika prays for the sake of fulfillment of her desire and mentions about Lord Vishnu's matsya, kurmavatara… the avataras. One gets to notice that the choreography for this item is in contrast to the traditional dasavatharam.

Her performance met the high expectations that one would have of an illustrious student of Dr Vempati and no doubt her Guru was pleased too. Photographers were seen clicking Srimayi's daughter of about five years performing off the stage what Srimayi was performing on the stage.

The organizers Visakha Art and Dance Association and Visakha Samskruthika Sabhaa Samakaya felicitated her at the end of the event.