Text & pic: B Venkat, Visakhapatnam

February 5, 2011

A Kuchipudi dance recital titled Virajitha was organized by Visakhapatnam's Arts and Dance Association on December 23, 2010. The recital featuring students of Swathi Gundapaneedi (Siddhendra Kuchipudi Art Academy, USA) and her team took place in the Kalavani Auditorium and received good response. The show had to be organized a day later than scheduled as the dancers arriving from USA had an unexpected Heathrow halt due to snow.

With added advantage of having Ravi Shankar Vempati on vocal and Swathi on the nattuvangam, the program started with "Natesa Kowthuvam" from Hanish. He exhibited the energy and pace demanded by the item. “Jagadananda” that followed had seven to nine dancers that took turns and maintained the tempo of this popular Thygaraja krithi dance composition of which we see many variants in Kuchipudi these days. It is imperative in a group dance that coordination becomes vital, and choreography the key differentiator. The group exhibited both these and the relayed transitions were seamless and skillful.

“Parulanna maata…” (Dharmapuri Subbarayar), an abhinaya item is about a swiya nayika. The nayika converses to keep her nayaka in good humor, and is sure that she has his love. The young dancer Tripura Padullaparthi demonstrated the expressive content well and in fact, the javali stood out. Swathi succeeded in getting the right expressions from her student.

In Virajitha, we got to see the brothers Hanish and Manish shine, matching each other step by step in footwork, in perfect mudras, and in executing typical movements so characteristic of Kuchipudi. Their progress would be a positive development for the future, for Kuchipudi. In quick succession, Brindavana Nilaye, Krishna sabdam, Shiva Sthuthi, Koluvaithiva, followed. There was a break where Sri Ravi Shankar and Swathi were honored.

The artistes included Vaishnavi Kota, Hanish Polavarapu, Malika, Manish Polavarapu, Umar Maruti Chavali, Varsha Garla, Tripura Padullaparthi, Maya Tatikola, Mahathi Chavali, Pramoda Bapatla, Manasa Grandhi. Those in the music team included Ravi Shankar, Swathi Gundapaneedi, Venkata Rao (mridangam), Kumar (flute), Satya (violin).

Performances in Virajitha connected well with the audience. In fact considering that all the dancers landed in Hyderabad, reached Visakhapatnam that morning by bus, the students of Swathi’s Siddhendra Kuchipudi Art Academy with their performance brought appreciation to event organizers VAADA. One however feels the organizers should have muted the usage of banners. Those who attended were happy that the dancers from USA followed the ethos and culture of India. The troupe had to rush to Hyderabad the very next day to participate in the 2nd Kuchipudi International Dance Convention and we hear they received appreciation there too.