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Augmenting Sublimity

Noopuraraavam, The Second Day
(Image courtesy: Lasyakalpa Foundation For Arts)

Resolving to high standards of delivering brings with it both expectation and responsibility to match up to! Noopuraraavam, the three day Kuchipudi dance festival commenced with panache and effortlessly flowed to the next day to attract an overflowing house in the auditorium. At the risk of being criticized, Lasyakalpa Foundation maintained uncompromising standards of organization. The backstage was made a peaceful zone for the artiste to concentrate, the staff worked relentlessly to ensure undisturbed movement of audience and the makers conducted the programme most effectively, making it an exemplary experience.

The Vempati brothers’ (Pedda Satyam and Chinna Satyam) consummate choreography in films was the exhibit under ‘Venditera Kuchipudi Velugulu’. Their work when viewed together, stands distinct for its credibility to make films a spring board for the development and propagation of Kuchipudi in and from a city like Chennai. Having the best of dancers as the visual imagery for their artistry, the two brothers have fully administered the technique irrespective of the dance forms, conveying the strong message that differentiation between forms is only a tool.

Tanikala Bharani and Deepika Reddy : Inaguration

The ‘Kamsa Nrutyam’ sequence of duet was a befitting example of Pedda Satyam’s vision of dance that he intended to portray through films. His choreography on Kamala Lakshman seemed to be attuned to her, as she mirrored the court dancing practices of those times. What drew attention was the savour of the dance – most beautiful and elegant putting a question if dance in films has actually followed the downward graph to where it stands today.

Chinna Satyam was more of a showman in synthesizing larger than life patterns. While ‘Bhakta Ramadas’ explored classical dance in a free wheeling attempt gloriously done by the dancers, Satyam’s own spirit saw him donning the role of a Harmonium artiste hopping around with the dancer lip-sing tamil lyric! It is but re vetting to watch the work of Gurus two generations ahead of us, realize how pertinent it falls in the current context and the importance that longevity of an artistic expression needs.

Sahiti Reddy Vedire
Kuchipudi’s ingress into the solo format is to a large extent symbolized by different schools of training and interpretation of the basic grammar. This being the case, most presentations seem to be binding continuations and replicas of the dance- drama format. For a very refreshing change, Sahiti Reddy Vedire brought none of these into her solo presentation which seemed to be a concentrated effort. Only two pieces were presented and they relegated the performance away from mundanes to a point of perfected silting of lyric, technique, music, interpretative element, and choreography. D.S.V Sastry’s high point lies in the treatment of the start and the end of an item – it becomes his virtual playground of creativity to reach a peak and then fill the interim with deep caste variety.
Sri Gananatham Bajare was a classic example of this and devoted dancing by Ms. Vedire. The jathis were tonic yet not running to a finish with highlighting the effect and importance of silence! The dancer could probably work more on sustenance through self worked expression in the prelude changes between the stanzas.

The next item was an excerpt in a ‘Shabdam’ format on the multitude roles of Hiranyakasyapu. Laced with swara passages and Jathis incorporating swift jumps and bramaris, the dancer executed them very adeptly, still retaining a good amount of stamina for the absorbing abhinaya that followed. Sahiti’s portrayal of the character of Hiranyakasyapu stole the show affirming her grip over abhinaya. The character's very stance, his awe-struck expression on the vision of Vishnu (I must repeat the importance given to silence here!), the slow and powerful build up to the crescendo of Vishnu taming Hiranyakasyapu was a hallmark of excellence. A team effort lead by D.S.V Sastry and followed religiously by the dancer, music ensemble and lighting technicians.

Nartanasala : Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry
'Nartanasala’ by Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry served an archetype in the presentation of dance dramas through the elements of characterization, lyrical similes and quality of portrayals. The role of the dance teacher doubled to suit the context and pass a message of real existences, the anti protagonist (played by Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry himself) could be revered while in his character, beauty in lyrics was grained out of the mileage of dance, and portrayals did cast a shadow of the story line blended with good humour.

The Pandavas are in ‘Agnatavasam’ at Viraa Raju’s court, Arjuna assuming the role of a dance teacher and Bhima that of a cook! Keechaka misbehaves with Draupadi in a wicked at of love and Bhima deceives and kills him. With individual characters excelling in their part, the ballet though looked a lit outstretched through solo ‘Daruvus’ presented one after the other. Though the climax looked and felt over dramatic, since the knitting together was carefully done by Sri Sastry, it was well received.

Famed produced Tanikala Bharani and danseuse Deepika Reddy spoke emotionally on the effect that such high quality artistic endeavours have in supplementing the genre of Kuchipudi. Their very thought had immediate validation through a view of the auditorium which had audience right back in their seats well past 10.15 pm!