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An evening of authentic Kuchipudi from India

September 22
21:48 2015
 Prateeksha Kashi, Guru Vyjayanthi Kashi and Srivani Vokkarane.

Prateeksha Kashi, Guru Vyjayanthi Kashi and Srivani Vokkarane.

CHICAGO: Sriranga Dance Academy organized a cultural evening presenting Kuchipudi dances on Saturday, September 12 at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. It turned out to be a memorable event as beautiful tales from India were brought to life by the brilliant choreography of Vyjayanthi Kashi, renowned Kuchipudi danseuse.

The accompanying dancers, Prateeksha Kashi – daughter and disciple of Vyjayanthi and Srivani Vokkarane – Artistic Director of Sriranga Dance Academy did justice to the choreography through their flawless dancing.

The recital began with a unique item titled ‘Body the Temple’. Inspired by the concept of Gayatri Mantra and Poorva ranga vidhi (the invocation item in Kuchipudi), the item laid emphasis on body being the instrument of expression for a dancer. It was a powerful start with beautiful annotations stressing on body language, speech, way of presentation and subtle expressions. Vyjayanthi and Prateeksha complemented each other in portraying masculine and feminine aspects respectively with ease and perfection.

Next was a piece centered on the concept of five elements – sky, wind, water, fire and earth. The well narrated English commentary by Vyjayanthi in between the songs proved her versatility. The Vedic chants and the Panini stotra, the 14 syllables that emerged from Shiva’s damaru, was well incorporated with the display of Karanas that made it a visual treat. The creative usage of colorful properties enhanced the overall effect of this piece.

The story of Lord Rama from his birth to coronation was depicted in a crisp manner by Srivani in her solo piece. She effectively executed the various episodes of Ramayana Shabdam and her command over the technique in the rhythmic passages was impressive. The Mohana Raga chosen for this song brought out the lilting aspect of Kuchipudi.

Prateeksha chose for her solo piece the fast paced item ‘Shankara Srigiri’. In this popular composition of the famous poet Swati Tirunal, she powerfully brought out the Tandava aspects of dance. With steps that were energetic and controlled expressions, Prateeksha won the hearts of the art connoisseurs.

The recital came to an end with a grand finale, the story of the ugly hunched woman Kubje, a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna. Every road she walked, every corner she turned, Kubje faced humiliation.

Stones were pelted, water sprayed and glances turned away. Srivani enacted the introduction of Kubje and expressed the act of mortifying Kubje. Vyjayanthi was so engrossed in her presentation of Kubje that it brought tears in the eyes of the audience.

It was a good example to show that when Bhava is deeply embedded in a dancer, the audience will automatically experience the bliss of Rasa. Prateeksha immediately switched into the attire of the young and charming Lord Krishna. The Natya elements of Kuchipudi were significantly seen in this piece.

It was a warm gesture by the Chief Guest Dr Saradapurna Sonty and her husband Dr Sriram Sonty who felicitated Srivani for her efforts in organizing the program. Then came the surprise element when Srivani honored her Guru Vyjayanthi Kashi with the ‘Vyjayanthi Vibhooshite Award’ for her immense contribution to the field of dance. This was an emotional moment and a befitting way to conclude the evening.

Sunthar Visuvalingam

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