Guru Samarpana in the USA
- Shankar Iyyer

November 5, 2012

On October 20, 2012 the students of Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam presented Guru Samarpana at Watkins Mill High School, Maryland.  Fifty or so dancers participated in this event organized by Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu and Dr. Prasad Reddy.  I have been to many performances of Vempati’s students just to listen to Kanakadurga’s voice and Vempati’s nattuvangam. I was told that Guru Samarpana was divided into three sessions.

The day started with morning session and classroom style workshop. I attended the afternoon and evening sessions. The items presented were Master’s choreography and I was slightly disappointed that it was not with live orchestra. However, most dancers played the Master’s recordings. I could recognize his voice and that of Kanakadurga’s. Each dancer brought a new flavor by performing varieties of items. Some items were more inspiring than the others. Srinivas’s Ramayana Shabdam, Jyotsna Potharaju’s Bhamakalapam, Mrinalini Sadananda’s Radhika Krishna, Aditya’s Sivastuthi, Bala Kondala Rao’s Eruka were outstanding. The charm and arrogance of Sathyabhama was well brought out by Jyotsna.  Aditya's posture and control was noteworthy. The shabdam performed by Srinivas Devarakonda definitely deserved applause. The nritta and the nrithya were in perfect harmony. Bala Kondala Rao showed her experience and expertise on the stage. I understand it was a last minute request from the dancers and the organizers.

Mrinalini Sadananda’s Radhika Krishna, a Jayadeva's ashtapadi in ragamalika, was the highlight of the program. She was very effective in conveying the bhava and hence deserves a special compliment. Her stage presence was commendable. The separation of Radhika from Krishna was exquisite. Her alluring expression evoked the rasa, the viraha, very clearly. She utilized the full scope of executing the charm of a young woman, who was in love and was unable to bear the separation from her beloved. Mrinalini has all the qualities needed for a stage artiste, beautiful face, nice figure and expressive eyes. Her vibrant movements at times must have stolen the heart of Krishna.

Another striking dancer was Lakshmi Babu. It was heartwarming to see her come to the stage with a typical Kuchipudi gait performing Vedalena Vayyarulu in Ragam Kedaragoula. Kamala Rajupet and Sasikala Penumarthi performed a dance from Master’s masterpiece, the popular dance drama Rukmini Kalyanam. They were well coordinated. The program ended with most of the dancers doing Thillana in raga Hindolam, talam adi. None of the dancers performed in dance costume.  The students of Vempati Chinna Satyam indeed paid a fitting tribute to their guru in this day long celebration.