Deepika Reddy: ananda nritta on Sivaratri  
- Padma Jayaraj, Thrissur  

March 13, 2006 

Sivaratri is the time of the year when the grace of Lord Siva descends from Kailas, sweeping the subcontinent. Sivaratri is the season when the artists pay their homage to Dakshinamurti, their ultimate Guru. Sivaratri is the day when Nataraja dances his ananda tandava in human hearts. 

Deepika Reddy, a fine exponent of Kuchipudi, danced her offerings to Lord Siva in the premises of Wadakkannathan, one of the oldest temples in Kerala, the birthplace of Adisankara. As dusk deepened, as stars twinkled and lights glimmered around the sanctuary, it was ananda nritta that the audience witnessed. Retelling familiar stories in margam style, tradition dominated the mood, a tradition that is kept alive down the centuries in the subcontinent, the worship of Siva. 

Deepika's performance commenced with mahadevasutam, an invocation to Ganesha, the son of Siva.  A composition of Mangalampalli Bala Muralikrishna set to Arabhi Ragam and Adi Talam, choreographed by Kishore, had the stamp of her Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. 

A Tarangam unique to the Kuchipudi repertoire followed: shiva shiva bhava bhava sharanam set to ragamalika, Adi Talam, and written by the renowned saint-scholar Narayana Teertha. The episode portrayed Gangavatarana. The phenomenal Ganga is a trickle that flowed down when Lord Siva loosened a few of his locks as a gift to his devotee King Bhageeratha. Then the curse lifted, and the people of the land have been blessed ever since. Indian art celebrates the glory of Nature and its commitment to its conservation down the millennia. Indeed, the Ganga, our perennial source of life flows from Kailas in myriad theertas. 

A Siva stuti, in ragamalika, performed by Mihira Pathuri, a student of Deepika Reddy narrated the various attributes of Lord Siva. The verses invoked the splendor of the joyous cosmic dance of the Lord along with his consort Parvathi, accompanied by Lord Vishnu on the mridangam, Lord Indra on the flute, Lord Brahma on the cymbals, goddess Saraswathi on the veena, goddess Lakshmi on vocal, enjoyed by the celestial audience. 

Then Deepika danced the famous Annamacharya Keerthana 'Paluku Tenela Talli,' set to Abheri Ragam and Khandachapu Talam. A delightful composition of Annamacharya, an ardent devotee of Lord Venkateswara, the dance let the drama of love and life unfold themselves in graceful, sensuous expressions. The maids of the goddess Alamelu Manga entering her chambers at the break of dawn find her still in bed, disheveled and drowsy but extremely enchanting. The tell tale signs are that of an ever enthralling drama of love. Deepika's abhinaya revealed her maturity as an artist with exquisite expressions. 

The concluding item, Sivashtakam, composed by the great Adi Sankara himself in praise of Lord Siva, was a fitting finale. Set to Mohana Ragam, Kandachapu Talam, Deepika and her student portrayed the eight verses in brisk, vigorous movements, and in iconographic poses. The only defect was a glaring contrast between the student and the teacher in charm. In a group performance, it is very important that each complement the other to knit a piece in rhythm and beauty. 

The enthralling piece of dance on the rim of a brass plate executing an intricate and rhythmic sequence of steps was scintillating. Set to a synchronizing orchestra, (nattuvangam - D Srinivas, vocal - M Sarada, mridangam - Sridhar Acharya, and violin - Dinakar), Deepika's performance remained etched on the horizon. 

Blessed with a pair of large, expressive eyes, her fluid, swinging movements and stage presence, makes Deepika a name to reckon with. Born to dance, she has grown into maturity with years of training. A winner of many awards and fame at her beck and call, Deepika is set to scale greater heights. 

Padma Jayaraj is a regular contributor to