Jaikishore and Padmavani Mosalikanti dazzle Bay Area rasikas
- Phanisri Kuchibotla
e-mail: vedasri@hotmail.com

Sepember 25, 2012

If there was one event that Bay Area was waiting for with bated breath, it was the Kuchipudi dance performance by the Mosalikanti couple, Jaikishore Mosalikanti and Padmavani Mosalikanti on August 26 at Santa Clara. Though he has never performed in the Bay Area, Kishore is no stranger here and has been a household name through his workshops and his choreographies performed by his students like Samidha Satyam. What was even more exciting was that he was being joined by Padmavani, his better half in life and dance.  Yuva Bharati that hosted this performance has been making great strides in bringing quality performances to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The thematic presentation aptly named ‘Nrityamalika’ brought forth the fragrance of the various flowers that made up this garland of dance and showcased the versatility of the performers in all aspects of dance   – nritta, nritya and natya. The performance was resplendent with choreographies of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam and Kishore Mosalikanti. The program opened with the traditional invocation to Lord Ganesha with Ananda Nartana Ganapatim choreographed by Kishore Mosalikanti. With perfectly synchronized costumes and steps, the duo set the pace for the rest of the program with a scintillating and fast paced performance to this popular composition by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer. They effectively conveyed the joy experienced by Lord Ganesha while dancing to the melody from various instruments played by the Gandharvas. 

Next was the evergreen composition by Saint Tyagaraja, Ksheera Sagara Shayana. While one needs no words to describe Tyagaraja’s devotion to Lord Rama, one is also rendered speechless at this choreographic masterpiece of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. While I did have my reservations about this slow paced song depicting drama through the various mythological depictions, full marks to Mosalikanti for proving himself to be one of Master’s able successors through his impeccable performance. The singer Kuldeep Pai did great justice with his rich modulations to the sancharis. Mosalikanti easily switched amongst the various characters depicted in this song. Gajendra moksham and the liberation of Saint Ramadasu from his shackles in the prison were conveyed with great poise. Draupadi Vastrapaharanam episode gave the dancer scope to emote and bring out the variance in the contrasting characters. He excelled in his portrayal of this scene and transitioned from Shakuni to Dushasana to Draupadi with such ease that it was difficult to imagine that it was the same person performing all the roles. Switching over to play the role of the Vanaras in the Setu Bandhana scene was no challenge for this seasoned artiste. If Kishore asserted himself as a versatile artist in Ksheera Sagara Sayana, Padmavani proved her mettle by living in the role of the charming queen Satyabhama. When one talks about immortality, Sri Siddhendra Yogi’s Bhama Kalapam has stood the test of time through the centuries, and Bhama Pravesha Daruvu has the capacity to enthrall the audiences again and again.  Vani delivered a fine performance as the jealous, passionate, arrogant and favorite queen of Lord Krishna.

The next item Jaya Jaya Durge, a Tarangam from Saint Narayana Theertha’s Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini was considered the highlight of the program by many. Used to seeing Tarangams depicting the deeds of Lord Krishna, it was very refreshing to see a Tarangam that deviated from this theme. With Kishore living the role of the demon Mahishasura, Vani donned the role of Goddess Durga with great finesse. The couple taunted and challenged each other and took the audience to a fever pitch with the battle between the good and the evil. Accentuated with significant pauses and statuesque poses, the mythological drama brought out the wrath of Goddess Durga and culminated in her successfully vanquishing the evil demon. Kishore once mentioned a unique aspect of his choreography for Tarangams – when the Narayana Theertha  mudra is played, he takes the song to a tempo giving due emphasis and importance to the Saint’s mudra and then raises the song back to a fast tempo. This was evident in Jaya Jaya Durge as well and it is definitely a signature style of Mosalikanti.

Jayadeva, yet another saint whose works influenced all classical dances made his presence felt through the Ashtapadi Sanchara dadhara. Replete with shringara rasa, the Ashtapadi is yet another of Master’s masterpieces and Vani paid homage to the great guru by living the role of Radha pining for Krishna. Her sensitive and sensuous portrayal of Radha suffering the pangs of separation from Lord Krishna was praiseworthy.  Was it the same dancer who had just destroyed Mahishasura? Her transition was remarkable!

Kishore definitely saved the best for the last. Saint Annamacharya’s energetic and philosophical Brahma Okkate was indeed my favorite of the entire program. The dance was performed with much gusto and he very capably brought out the folk element in the song. The step performed for Tandanana Ahi Tandanana pure Tandanana Bhala Tandanana Bhala Tandanana stayed with the audience even after the performance. This is indeed one of his best choreographies and I hope more of his students learn the dance and popularize this choreography. The grand finale was Carnatic virtuoso Dr. Balamurali Krishna’s Behag Thillana. It was short and sweet. The thundering applause received by the couple at the end of the show showed their deep respect and appreciation for the talented artistes.
Speaking on the occasion, Kishore Mosalikanti paid his respects to Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam and grieved at the loss of his guru. Jyothi Lakkaraju, Bay Area’s pioneer Kuchipudi guru, felicitated the artistes. Wishing them great success for the rest of their US tour and hope to see more such talented artistes treating the US audiences!

Phanisri Kuchibotla maintains a blog kuchipudikalakar.blogspot.com