Silicon Andhra 3rd International Kuchipudi Dance Convention
- Shyama Shasidhar

January 7, 2013

Silicon Andhra’s 3rd International Kuchipudi Dance Convention saw a glorious registration of about 6000 odd participants, a grand inauguration presided by the Union Minister for State, Dr. Daggubati Purandeswari (also the chairperson of the convention) studded with the starry presence of Dr. K Chiranjeevi. The Gachibowli Stadium echoed with cultural extravagance as every participant sashayed proudly in their traditional attire. The pomp and glitz that the inaugural aired was indeed one that made each artiste feel their presence worth every penny. 

The inaugural performance saw Dr. Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry’s group from the village of Kuchipudi performing a daruvu on Balatripura Sundari, the presiding deity of Kuchipudi. Vyjayanthi Kashi, Dr. Raja - Radha Reddy and Dr. Shoba Naidu along with their troupe exhibited their art. Truly an artistic delight, but an ardent student of traditional Kuchipudi dance form was left wondering as to the changes to the fundamentals of Kuchipudi in the guise of innovation. Afternoon saw a sumptuous meal waiting for people who were battling with hapless volunteers to make it first to the hall. 

The seminar began to a lot of vacant seats initially as participants were delayed in finding the seminar halls which could have been better marked and directed along with a display of the scheduled speakers. The spirit of Andhra was being emphasized at every given opportunity, yet, sometimes we wonder where all the cultural pounding has gone, as our children (and even adults most times) fail to respect gurus/ dancers, get up abruptly between a talk or performance, wave at friends like no one else is watching, drag along a fellow person simply because he/she is bored.

Dr. Ramadevi and group

Vyjayanthi Kashi and group

Shoba Naidu receiving honour from Silicon Andhra

Girija Kalyanam

From Kuchipudi village, Dr. Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry spoke on Kuchipudi Uddhata Patralu explaining how literature also has grown along with the development of Kuchipudi dance from 2nd century BC. Though the form of literature changed over a period, the rasa and bhava of human beings have remained the same as much as the poetic expression that Kuchipudi dance portrayed. Chinta Ravi Balakrishna spoke on the Kuchipudi Roopanurupam Prakriya of Late Vedantam Satyanarayana Sharma. He had another legend Pasumarthy Rattaiah Sarma enact the paravesha daruvu of Bhama Kalapam with aplomb. Ravi Balakrishna stressed the fact that they are legends because they learned all aspects pertaining to dance and drama like literature, music, dance, alankara sastras and imbibed chaturvidha abhinaya in their performances.

Lec- dem by Dr. Vasudev Singh
Bhagavathula Sethuram’s topic Kuchipudi Nrityamsala Roopakalpana was handled in his customary passionate fashion, his observation with regard to the need for opener.  Pasumarthy Srinivasa Sarma’s talk on Daruvulu Abhinaya Vidhanamu mentioned daruvus as unique repertoire found primarily in Kuchipudi Yakshaganam, which has a particular grammar of jathis, gathis, matras and talas including sampradhaya sangeetham. Guru Vedantam Radheysyam’s demonstration of nayaka, nayaki patras saw how an artiste needs to get into the skin of the character transformation before portraying the character.

Dr. R. Vasudev Singh explained the role of Kuchipudi Pageti Veshalu tradition which is not a contemporary prominent art form. He had the assistance of the performance of one of the last artistes of Kuchipudi Pageti Veshalu, Chinta Srirama Murthy to go with his presentation. Pageti Veshalu is enactment of social or epic characters by one or two artistes performed on the streets as sanchari brindam to drive home messages related to dharma, artha, kama and moksha to the common man. There are around 32 noteworthy Pageti Veshalus in Kuchipudi, out of which three were depicted by Srirama Murthy at the convention.

Yeleswarapu Chalapathi Sastry explained in detail with demos on the unique teaching aspects adopted by Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry specifically on mudra abhinayam. Yeleswarapu Srinivasulu spoke on the Kuchipudi Pratinayaka Patralu – Rasaposana. He said that even in negative characters like Hiranyakasipu, Banasura, etc, navarasas could be observed , not just roudra and bibathsa, but also karuna and santha rasas.

Lec-dem by Vedantam Venkatanaga Chalapathi Rao

Lec-dem by Yelleswarapu Chalapathi Sastry

Tadepalli Satyanarayana Sarma spoke from the heart regarding Kuchipudi Natya Vikasakra. His talk mainly centered on the concern to adherence to traditional values that has been so meticulously protected and preserved for generations by the Kuchipudi Bhagavatha families. He stated in very clear terms that in the guise of improvisations, let’s not change the traditional dance beyond recognition and pass it on as Kuchipudi dance to the next generation. He very uniquely brought out the fact that the main reason for the success of such conventions was the efforts put in by the parents by encouraging and ensuring the participation of their wards. Tadepalli also took this opportunity to place on record the Bhagavatha melam’s protest against the misinformation campaign of some of the so called art critics on female impersonation roles for which the Bhagavatha melam are well known for.

The priceless nectar of wisdom that flowed from these traditional masters was beyond mere inspiration. However, certain new age gurus turned out to be very sarcastic, as observed in one of the presentations when the guru points at her student assisting in demonstration, who could barely make a 45 degree angle with her legs and said, “Look how perfectly the legs draw a 90 degree angle!” We haplessly wondered if the sarcasm was meant for us or for the foreign student. 

The convention saw showcasing of new trends and innovations more in performances as against the traditional while the opposite was true when it came to seminars / lecture demos. The rich content dished out in the seminars / lecture demos of the traditional gurus of Kuchipudi village would have warmed the hearts of purists and traditionalists alike what with their depth of knowledge and ease of performance that went along with their explanations. With the organizers arranging for simultaneous lecture demos addressed by maestros at the same time, the inability to attend all the seminars gave a feeling of missing out on something valuable for the discerning delegates which could have been avoided with better planning. A good rich content souvenir ‘Sujana ranjani natya manjari’ worth keeping was released in this edition. The articles (bilingual) mostly research oriented are worth preserving and reading.

Mahabrinda Natyam

The Mahabrinda Natyam, the icing of the show in many senses, saw a huge tide of Kuchipudi enthusiasts gather at the Gachibowli International Stadium. Thanks to the organizers, the lines in the order in which the students had to stand was made much quicker than anticipated. Indeed, the sound of 5794 ghunguroos in rhythm was exhilarating. The support extended by families and well-wishers ensured that the dancers danced to a stadium full of viewers. The Silicon Andhra Convention spearheaded by K Anand, yet again set a new world record breaking the one they set two years ago. Praveen Patel from Guinness Book of World Records handed over the record for dancers representing 18 countries participating in the convention.

Since its inception, the convention has truly helped spread awareness about the dance form of Kuchipudi, which was the need of the hour a few years back. Statistics show a robust growth in the students enrolling for Kuchipudi classes as could be seen also from the number of artistes that turned out for the convention. Now that the need of the hour is met, I’m left pondering, won’t a little more of professional ethics take the art to still greater heights with more purposeful mission and vision statement for the betterment of the art and artistes by the organizers from the next edition onwards apart from creating sensational records!