Into the land of Dwaraka  
- Padma Dadi, Toronto 

October 14, 2006  

The first long weekend of September would indeed be memorable for a long time among the art lovers of the Indian community in New Jersey. The students of Nritya Madhavi School of Dance along with their Guru Divya D Yeluri, enthralled the audience with a scintillating classical Kuchipudi dance ballet, 'Sri Krishna Parijatham' at the auditorium of the Bridge Water temple in New Jersey on Saturday, September 2, 2006. 

Kuchipudi ballets enjoy a unique standing in South Indian classical dances. Usually woven around interesting stories from mythology, the story unfolds itself in several acts. 

This ballet, which was originally choreographed by Divya's guru, Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, is ever so popular as it is one of his most exquisite choreographies combining all aspects of the dance form in expression and content. Also one of the main characters in this ballet is Satyabhama, the legendary heroine of Kuchipudi and the main subject for a plethora of dance ballets in the Kuchipudi repertoire.  

The ballet revolves around 4 main characters, Sage Narada depicted by the young and ebullient Natasha Antony, Lord Krishna by Rekha Kamireddy; Rukmini by the talented Nandini Chakraborthy and the bewitching Satyabhama, by Divya Yeluri herself. 

The ballet opens with Sage Narada, who is popularly known as "Kalahabhojanudu," meaning one whose appetite is only satiated after conniving a sumptuous quarrel, pondering over a palatable plot to instigate a quarrel between Lord Krishna and his favourite consorts, Rukmini and Satyabhama. He then comes up with a wonderful idea wherein the celestial flower Parijatham becomes the stimulant for the quarrel. The role of Narada, which bears a hint of sarcasm and humor, was explicitly conveyed through the young and hearty Natasha Anthony. 

The second scene marks the entry of Rukmini who later accompanied by her beloved Krishna performs the well known tarangam "Neelamegha Sareera" on the brass plate. In the same act, Narada plants the seed of jealousy and rivalry by persuading Krishna to adorn the beautiful Parijatha flower in Rukmini's hair, thereby instigating the wrath of Satyabhama. 

Both Nandini Chakraborthy and Rekha Kamireddy have done justice to the characters of Rukmini and Lord Krishna. The tarangam piece and the devotion demonstrated by Rukimini to her Lord etched a lasting impression on the audience. 

The third scene is the heart of the ballet and comprises of episodes such as the 'Bhama Pravesam' - entry of Satyabhama with the ever so popular "Bhamane...Satya Bhamane," the much acclaimed "Lekha" which is Satyabhama's love letter to her Lord, wherein she pours out her anguish of separation, and then the "Satyabhama Sapatham" where  Satyabhama, (after Narada informs her that Rukmini is the beneficiary of the celestial flower and Krishna's love) is upset by the whole episode and makes a vow to make Krishna fall at her feet. 

Satyabhama's role in this ballet encapsulates the Nava Rasas in totality and the character of Satyabhama was deftly depicted by Divya with ease and dexterity. The ballet concludes with Satyabhama being de-robed of her pride and vanity and realizing that devotion (Bhakti) alone is the means to attaining oneness with the Lord. 

The program organized by the HTSC of Bridge Water temple was indeed a feast for all art lovers, who at least for these 2 hours were transported to the divine land of Dwaraka through this delightful dance performance. 

Padma Dadi has worked for Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle in India, followed by a 3 year stint as a journalist in Reading, UK. As a freelance journalist, she continues to contribute articles mainly to the Art and Culture sections of publications. She is presently based in Canada.