Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram celebrates 19th anniversary
- Bhavanvitha Venkat
e-mail: bhavanvitha@gmail.com

December 22, 2016

Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram celebrated its 19th Anniversary on 24th November 2016 at Kalabharati Auditorium, Visakhapatnam. Founded by AB Bala Kondala Rao, every year the institute presents a new dance production on the occasion of the anniversary celebration. Last year it was Kuchipudi dance drama ‘Lalitambika.’ This year Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram presented ‘Kuchipudi Nritya Malika’ comprising group performances followed by ‘Bhama Kalapam’ by Akhila Takkallapalli from the USA. 

Akhila began her dance training with Guru Sobha Naidu, and has been groomed under the tutelage of Sasikala Penumarthi, Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam’s illustrious disciple and Guru Bala Kondala Rao of Vizag. 

The group performances “Maha Ganapathim” (Muthuswamy Dikshitar) and “Sree Lalitha” (Jagannadha Acharyulu), choreographed by Bala Kondala Rao,  were presented by students Aswitha, Hasini, Mahathi, Ananya, Viswaja, Vennela, Padmavathi, Varsha, Girija, Roshan, Pooshan, and Pushyami. There is a new flow of thought into group items of Kuchipudi and it’s refreshing. Group items that have beautiful footwork and combinations have the power to lift the program on energy and also to showcase the talent of the dancers in their abhinaya, provided the choreography is meticulous. Coming soon after the Ranga Pooja invocation “Vani Paraku,” the pieces made for an ideal start through catching the attention of the audience. The more experienced a choreographer, that much intricate are the combinations. “Maha Ganapathim” was performed with energy and joyful abhinaya, as it reflects Lord Vigneswara. Young dancers seemed to have enjoyed the item as did the audience. ‘Sree Lalitha,’ the second group item performed was in praise of Goddess Lalitha and it was chosen from the ‘Lalithambika’ dance drama that the guru has choreographed.

Akhila’s ‘Bhama Kalapam’ included Jada Vruthantham, Bhama Pravesa Daruvu, Siggayane, Madana, Lekha (abbreviated) and Shakunalu.  Her performance concluded with Satyabhama united with her lord Sri Krishna (enacted by Aishwarya). Akhila as Satyabhama was all dignity and proud as the character demands.  Her nritta was crisp as she moved with grace and agility. The items get the appeal in the manner abhinaya is expressed to the literary content and in the reciprocation to the other characters, Madhavi and Sri Krishna, in the drama.

In the Pravesa daru, she could clearly distinguish each word with its emotive content and her training and experience showed in the way she interacted with Madhavi (played by Gopiraj) and Krishna in Lekha, Siggayane, Madana. Overall her engagement in the emotional portrayal was deep and at times transcending. Such performances of senior dancers are rare to come by and Akhila impressed the rasikas with her application to the art. The drama element has conversation between Madhavi (male singer) and Satyabhama (female). Gopiraj a senior student, himself a dance teacher took time to get into the character but gradually gained confidence as Madhavi. 
His facial expressions especially when expressing displeasure (of rapid movements with mouth) at being denied a wish stood out.

One point that was observed and since it is an anniversary event where students from different batches get an opportunity was that it had a variableness - different level of skills  and the accompanying coordination, in the group performances. During the program, on different occasions the senior artists lifted their performances through their experience to aid and help the younger to make it a sustained quality level - “on-the job advanced learning” so to say. The vocal support of Pavani was nice, though at times the pitch of the male and female singers varied. 

The performances were ably supported by nattuvangam of Guru Bala Kondala Rao, singers Pavani and Pasumarthy Srinivas, mridangam by Anand Srihari, violin by Anjaneyulu, flute by Kumar Babu. Organized by Kuchipudi dancer Aditya Bulli Brahmam, the anniversary celebrations were well received.  

Bhavanvitha Venkat is a writer and Kuchipudi dancer. He is a finance consultant, advisor to cultural institutes and likes to work on creative ideas.