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Ardhanareeshwara comes alive on stage
- G Ulaganathan

December 12, 2021

Dr Vasanth Kiran is an academic and also a well-known Kuchipudi dancer and teacher. Having been trained by the Vedantam family in Kuchipudi, Vasanth was until recently the dean of department of Performing Arts at a university in Bengaluru.


In the first week of this month, as part of the Nadam Festival in Bengaluru, Vasanth presented his latest choreographic work Ardhasaankaram, the story of Lord Shiva as Ardhanareeshwara - a perfect unison of Shakti and Shiva in the form of Prakriti and Purusha to bring in the impeccable balance in the cosmos. Vasanth, along with his 20 disciples, kept the audience at ADA Rangamandira spellbound for an hour with a vintage Kuchipudi dance drama with elaborate make-up, settings, rustic music, including characters like Ganapathi, Sutradhar and usage of thira (screen) to bring in the characters on stage. Usually the powerful prayer song is only a song and not a dance item in the Kuchipudi style and Vasanth brought in Ganapathi to whom the dancers paid their obeisance. The sutradhar even paid his tributes to Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry from Kuchipudi village who wrote the lyrics for the dance drama.

Narada's (Vedantam Vagdevi Prasad) quest to know the real reason behind the happiness and perfect sync in the world sends him to Shiva and Parvathi to find answers. Shiva (Krishna Kiran) and Parvathi (Krishna Sneha) were robust, brought out the perfect sync and were a bundle of energy and grace. Then came the stunner - Vasanth in the role of Ardhanareeshwara with half of his face made up to look like Shiva and the other half as Parvathi. He held a plain white cloth in his hand and avoided coming face to face with the audience.


In his dance, which he did sideways, he brilliantly showed the grace of Parvathi and the manly vigour of Shiva on the other half. It is rare to see the dance drama tradition these days and this was one such which received a standing ovation. The lyrics were by Guru Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry from Kuchipudi. The make up by Murali from Hyderabad deserves a special mention.

G Ulaganathan
G Ulaganathan is a senior dance critic based in Bengaluru.

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