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Young Kuchipudi dancers in the limelight
- G Ulaganathan
Photos: R.N. Sudhi

April 3, 2022

After a long break it was refreshing to see a bunch of brilliant Kuchipudi dancers on stage at the ADA Ranga Mandira in Bangalore. Organised by Roopa Rajesh, herself a Kuchipudi exponent, the programme called Noopura Sangama, which we were told, was an annual festival until a few years ago, the evening of Kuchipudi showcased the disciple of two young acharyas, Rajashree Holla and Avijit Das, both of whom are Bangalore based.

Rajashree Holla's group

Rajashree Holla's choreography was marked by precision and choice of bright, uniform costumes in traditional Kuchipudi style for the dancers, including herself. Her dance institution Lasya Lahari sticks to the basics and all the students, Mahima Holla (who donned the role of Lord Narasimha), Sanjana Prasad B K (Prahlada), Lalitya Ghadiyaram and Vishnavi Chukka were a delight to watch.

They began with the Gajavadhana Beduve, an invocatory item to Lord Ganesh in raag Hamsadhwani. It is a delightful choreography by Guru Dr.Vempati Chinna Satyam. In this Purandaradasankirtan, Ganesh has pasha which is the noose typically carried by God of death Yama. Here he shows that he is beyond death and if you go to his feet you don't worry about death.

Rajashree Holla's group

Then came the story of Prahlada in Ragamalika. The choreography in traditional theatrical format, bore the stamp of vintage Kuchipudi as the dancers followed the movements taught by Yeleswarapu Srinivasulu in Kuchipudi village. The whole piece had a rustic touch. The familiar story of Prahlada's bhakti for Lord Narasimha, his father Hiranyakashipu's anger and his ultimate death in the hands of the furious Narasimha was vividly portrayed and full credit to Mahima Holla who brought about very effectively the various moods of the Lord, especially the change from roudra to shantha rasa.The only drawback was the fast pace at which this item was executed, making it difficult to follow the story. Perhaps the music was fast tuned and needs to be toned down.

Then followed the thillana in raag Kadanakuthuhala, a composition of the legendary Dr. Balmurlikrishna and choreographed by Rajashree Holla. This thillana was a beautiful tribute to Krishna, the charmer with the flute.

The dancers displayed good grasp of the Kuchipudi idiom and were able to perfectly complement each other with fluent movements and gestures. Balasubramanya Sharma's vocal support and Srihari Rangaswamy on mridangam and Jayaram Kikkeri on flute enhanced the total impact. Nattuvangam was by Karthik Dattar.

Daamini steals the show

Then followed an absorbing recital by the disciples of Avijit Das who is a rising star in the field of Kuchipudi, and is popular across the country. He had performed at Khajuraho last year and has been much in demand for his innovative choreography. One of his prime disciples who has been learning under him for nearly 7 years now, Daamini Vishalakshi, began with the Abhinayavibhava, set to Ragamalika and Talamalika.

In Jatiswaram, four of his disciples Vaishnavi, Jhanvi, Adithi and Nidhi presented the complex choreography of Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam in raag Attana with ease and brilliant movements across the stage.Then came the piece de resistance, Adi Sankaracharya's Shivashtakam set to raag Mohanam and here Daamini revealed how hard she has worked in perfecting the bhavas and gestures. Vempati's choreography for this piece will take a lot of effort and will test even the senior Kuchipudi dancers.

Daamini came out with flying colours in this long tiring item. She is bound to go far if she continues with the same seriousness.

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

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