Gururaju performs Kuchipudi solo in Jammu & Kashmir
June 5, 2023
The leading cultural organization dedicated to the promotion of art, culture and regional languages in the present Union Territory of J&K is 'The Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages' (JKAACL) that was set up in 1958 by the then state Government. The Academy has a state-of-the-art Abhinav Theatre in Jammu. While it is doing a commendable work in the field of folk dance and music of the region, it falls short in adequate promotion of Indian classical music and dance.
An alumnus of the University of Jammu and native of nondescript village Purkhoo in the Jammu district has been silently working with a single-minded pursuit of promoting Indian classical music and dance. Founder of Tarakeshwara Foundation based in Visakhapatnam in the State of Andhra Pradesh, Swami Jnanaprabhu (formerly Sehdev Singh) has organized numerous programs over the last nine years, including music concerts, dance recitals and art and photo exhibitions. No artiste himself, yet inspired by the National Program of Music on All India Radio in his childhood, he plans every aspect of his programs minutely.
His Foundation's regular venue is an enviable open air stage known as Annamayya Vedika, located at a prominent place, right on the Ramakrishna Beach road in Visakhapatnam. The venue is flanked by a world-class TU-142 Aircraft museum on one side and Asia's only Kursura Submarine museum on the other. The charm of performing at the venue under the vast expanse of azure sky, with the majestic Bay of Bengal as an eternal witness, attracts vidwans, young artistes and child prodigies from far and wide. The popularity of the initiative has provided impetus to the revival of classical music in the region, prompting the launch of many new music sabhas all around.
Like Tarakeshwara Foundation in Visakhapatnam in the South, Swami Jnanaprabhu has founded another parallel initiative in the North by the name of Jammu Music Akademy in Jammu for the promotion of classical music and dance in the present Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In its inaugural program on 21st April 2022, Visakhapatnam based Chaitanya Brothers and their seven disciples presented a Carnatic vocal recital based on the compositions of Sri Thalapaka Annamacharya; Anusmita Bhattacharjee from Kolkata performed Odissi solo, and a local Kathak dancer presented a Kathak recital. Later, on the Krishnashtami day, the former director of All India Radio and of the erstwhile Radio Kashmir, Jammu, Vijay Sambyal, popularly known as Rangeeley Thakur, presented a Hindustani vocal recital. This was followed by a Bharatanatyam recital by Surat based Jugnu Kiran Kapadia. These programs are being organized jointly by Jammu Music Akademy and Sacred Heart Public School at Purkhoo Camp in Jammu, in collaboration with Tarakeshwara Foundation.
To commemorate the first anniversary of these programs and of the School ashram, the promoters of the initiative organized a Hindustani vocal recital by Jammu based Dr. Mukteshi Sharma, a Kuchipudi dance recital by N. Gururaju from Bengaluru, a Kathak Jugalbandi by the duo of Suraj Kumar and Aastha Gupta from Delhi, and a school children's dance on Friday, the 21st April 2023. Furthermore, a twin exhibition in Hindi and English on Sri Paramahansa Yogananda's commentary on Chapter One of the Bhagavad Gita was also a part of the evening program.
Trained by Guru Vyjayanthi Kashi, N Gururaju has been an integral member of his guru's Shambhavi Dance Ensemble. He is at once a performer, teacher, choreographer and a yoga practitioner. Commenting on the performance, senior cultural correspondent Velcheti Subrahmanyam, now retired, of a leading English daily, says: "Splendid is the word that sums up the chic performance of Bengaluru based Gururaju. With a pervasive gleam of elegance around, the serene ambience at the Sacred Heart Public School in Jammu reverberated to the jingling of ankle bells as he danced his way into the hearts of the dance lovers. Endowed with a flair for kinetic phraseology, particularly in the core gestural vocabulary of Kuchipudi idiom, he dabbled early and soon evolved into an artiste of substance."
Describing the content of the recital, the veteran journalist continues: "The session, though a brief one with just four items, carried the emotive quotient of a full one. It opened on a brilliant note with Jaya Jaya Jithaveri, a composition of Sage Narayanathirtha. In depiction of the divine attributes of Lord Ganesha, the piece stood well-delineated in its charming choreographic patterns, in harmony with the expressional finesse. In Ramayana shabadam, an amalgam of various episodes from the birth of Lord Rama to his coronation, he delineated an array of emotional shades in a wide range of sancharis; particularly, his portrayal of different characters such as Rama, Jatayu, and Hanuman, etc. deserves a special mention for its poised presentation. Replete with vivacious footwork and expressional elan, Sandhya Tandav, the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva evidenced his grip over both the intricate patterns of floor design and the exploration of emotive nuances. He capped it with a lively Tarangam.
The moment he glided onto the stage, he at once captured the imagination of the audience with his impeccable movements, salutary gestures and unparalleled abhinaya. In the climactic end, the dancer portrays himself as experiencing the vision of Lord Krishna in a blissful state. With his remarkable abhinaya, Gururaju left an indelible mark in the minds of the audience, thus introducing Kuchipudi dance form to the Jammu audience."