Second International Kuchipudi Dance Convention
- Sudha Sridhar

January 5, 2011

Recently Silicon Andhra, California, in association with Department of Culture, Government of Andhra Pradesh organized the Second International Kuchipudi Dance Convention at Hyderabad. The convention spread over three days from December 24 to 26, 2010 was held in two venues. The first two days it was organized at Hyderabad International Convention Centre, HITEX and the grand finale was at the sprawling GMC Balayogi Stadium.

The convention was officially inaugurated by Kiran Kumar Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The stage was set for an auspicious beginning with the performance of Poorva Rangam by traditional Kuchipudi artistes conducted by Pasumarthy Keshavaprasad. This was followed by Dr. Shoba Naidu's presentation of Satyabhama Pravesam. It was a heartening spectacle to see one of the best disciples of the illustrious Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam perform Satyabhama Praveshva daruvu in front of him, probably in the exact way as he taught her. Hats off to the organizers for providing such a unique opportunity for the connoisseurs of Kuchipudi dance form.

The inaugural ceremony continued with an equally enthralling performance from Dr. Alekya Punjala on Devi Stuthi. The convention design comprising of various sessions clearly segregating performance, seminars and lecture demonstrations was a well thought out and commendable effort from the organizers to cater effectively to the needs of all those concerned with Kuchipudi. The various performances by eminent artistes and their ensemble were featured in the evening sessions. Notable among them were that of performances by P Rajeshwari, Bhagavatulu Venkatrama Sastry, G Swati, Central University and Vedavalli Challa, adding to the variety dished out to the audience during the convention.
Guru Vedantam Radheshyam
Lec- dem by Smitha Sastry
The seminars / lecture demos, 33 in all, were handled by eminent personalities covering the whole gamut of topics on Siddendra Yogi, Kuchipudi Sampradayam, Natyam, Bhagavatulu, Yakshaganam, Sikshana Paddhati, Sangeetham and Sahityam, Aswashta Purushasyam, Kalapam, Padavarnamula Kurpu, Mudraas, Sutradharuthavamu, etc. The panelists included Dr. Sunil Kothari, A Balakondala Rao, Uma Devulapalli, Dr. D Sreedevi, Chinta Adi Narayana Sharma, Yeleswarapu Chalapathi Sastry, Dr. Umarama Rao, Dr. Aruna Bikshu, Pasumarthy Seetharamayya, Madhavi Purnam, Pasumarthy Sreenivasa Sharma, Vedantam Radheshyam, Bhagavatula Sethuram, Dr. Vasudev Singh, among others.

The flavor from other parts of India and world was also showcased by Smita Sastri of Gujarat, covering Guru CR Acharya's style of teaching and Anupama Mohan on Keralite Abhiruchi, while Rajyashree Ramesh of Germany covered the topic Nama and Roopa. The seminars conducted by the traditional Kuchipudi gurus left the participants in awe at the abundance and depth of their knowledge, extempore delivery and creativity. The aspirants were shown a glimpse of the subject, fueling a zest to learn more about the various nuances of the art form.

Topics covered by new generation Gurus brought their professionalism to the core and the need to adhere to a disciplined approach to the art form.
Anand Kuchibotla's interactive session with students
An interactive session conducted by Anand Kuchibotla of Silicon Andhra with the students was unique and brought out the various concerns of the students. They stressed their need for keeping the purity of the art form without more orientation for award and reward. They also appealed for the subject to be included in the main stream of curriculum of education as a professional choice in the right perspective for propagating the art form. There was a discussion on the art form - roles and needs of the hour. It was based on the centre theme of the convention Yuvatha Kuchipudi Bhavitha! The panelists included Dr. Sunil Kothari, Avinash Pasricha, Shyamhari Chakra, Madhavi Puranam, Vedantam Radheshyam, Pasumarthi Keshavaprasad and Dr. Uma Rama Rao.

The discussion was very absorbing, meaningful and related to prevalent issues that were grabbing the attention of the dance students who would like to take up the art form as a profession. The following are some of the points that came out of the discussion. The role of an art critic through the print media was dealt with in detail. The fact that art critics are basically friends to the artists and they primarily act as mirrors with a view to develop and propagate the art form was stressed during the discussion.

Role of Kuchipudi traditional teachers, all these centuries as torch bearers serving the cause of Kuchipudi and the individuals as a livelihood was highlighted. Further, Kuchipudi's ennobling effort in developing a good society with its inbuilt spiritual, mental and physical values thereby putting in right perspective the real meaning of existence with brotherhood, rajayogam moksha margam and dharma was acknowledged. The future of the art form being in the hands of the youth, the young talent needs to be harnessed carefully in such a way that the Gurus act as an encouraging ladder and lend hope to the youth amidst the prevalent directionless and clueless socio economic chaos observed in an automated / remote controlled era. The panelists called upon the youth who were now in the wherewithal of what to do to promote, propagate and sustain the art form to accomplish the same with their will power and discipline with renewed zeal and vigour.
Hindolam Thillana
Hindolam Thillana at GMC Balayogi stadium
The grand finale saw over 2800 Kuchipudi dancers from fifteen countries and different parts of India perform Hindolam Thillana scripted and choreographed by Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. Probably the eminent exponent of the Kuchipudi art form should have come out with this Thillana which is dedicated to Siddhendra Yogi (with a unique distinction of having the ancient seer's mudra), during Brahmamuhurtam, for whenever one sees, it takes them to a brighter world. This incidentally found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records. Any entry from Indian arts in the Book of World Records adds more value to the book rather than the art form, since our rich culture and tradition in the arts is very ancient and existing from time immemorial. The occasion was graced by Pratibha Patil, the President of India.

The grand success of the event could be gauged from the fact that over 5000 delegates registered for the convention while over 2800 Kuchipudi dancers took part in the grand finale. The entire city of Hyderabad wore a look of celebration of Kuchipudi and it was a very special feeling to attend such a convention. The organizers had worked in tandem with the various organizations to provide a much needed fillip to the art form in general.