An Epitome of Indian Classical Dance

Text and Pics: Paul Nicodemus

Vysakhi Nrithyotsav 2018 Andhra Pradesh at Kalabharathi Auditorium in Visakhapatnam on 29 and 30 September

Vysakhi Nrithyotsav 2018, the 11th all India dance festival organised by Nataraj Music and Dance Academy with the support of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Department of Culture, Andhra Pradesh at Kalabharathi Auditorium in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh on 29 and 30 September turned out to be an epitome of Indian Classical dance. The festival saw the likes of Padma Bhushan awardee and Bharatanatyam guru, Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan; Bismillah Khan awardee and Kuchipudi exponent, Dr Chinta Ravi Bala Krishna; Chhau exponent, Dr Shashadhar Acharya and Odissi exponent, Dona Ganguly.

Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan and troupe

On September 29, Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan and troupe presented a Bharatanatyam ballet, Namami Gange, exploring the contemporary relevance of river Ganga in present times. The ballet highlighted the need for clean water bodies. The 15 member troupe from Ganesa Natyalaya under Saroja’s choreography did a fabulous job with perfect sync. Guru Saroja began the ballet with flawless abhinaya and other artistes followed suit. It was indeed a great moment for gathered patrons of Indian dance to see her in action. 

Dr Chinta Ravi Bala Krishna

As a second performance of the day, Dr Chinta Ravi Bala Krishna who hails from a traditional family in Kuchipudi village near Vijayawada presented the tale of Mohini Bhasmasura in Yakshagana style. The presentation was lucid and the audience thoroughly enjoyed it. Dr Chinta recently received the Ustad Bismillah Khan Award from the Sangeet Natak Akademi. All the characters in the ballet did their part deft touch and contributed to the success of it.


On the occasion, the Academy presented the ‘Golden Ghungroo Award’ to Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan and ‘Naatyasri’ to Dr Chinta Ravi Bala Krishana for their contribution to Indian performing arts.

Chhau performance by Dr Shashadhar Acharya and troupe

The final day of the festival began with a vibrant Chhau performance by Dr Shashadhar Acharya and troupe. Acharya has been propagating the art form of Seraikella Chhau all over the world and toured over 60 countries. The unique dance form with its roots in Indian martial arts had brisk yet flowing moments. Unlike other classical dance forms, Chhau does not have the concept of abhinaya as the face of the artiste is covered with a mask.  Artistes lost their identity and got the identity of the character. Acharya (costume) played a major role in expressing and even the slightest of movements had a meaning. Dancers conveyed emotions with their body language and interesting costumes, resembling night, moon, peacock, Radha and Krishna. Dr Shashadhar Acharya, Sukanth, Kumar Acharya and Chandranarayan Mohanty presented Chhau in two parts and received a huge round of applause.

Odissi exponent Dona Ganguly and troupe

Later on, Dona Ganguly, Odissi exponent and wife of former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly performed Odissi with her troupe. The popular story of Mahishasura Mardini was presented in Odissi style in three parts. Different avatars of Durga was showcased in the first part. In the second part, the troupe brought the killing of Mahishasura by Durga to life. The third part emphasised the importance of man and women in the universe. Dona must be credited for showing the story through vachika abhinaya and footprints without losing the purity of the tradition.

Bathina Bhagyasri

Bathina Bhagyasri, a young Kuchipudi artiste from Visakhapatnam performed ‘Choodaramma Satulala’ with grace and poise. The dance recital in Ragamalika and Adi tala was a perfect interlude to Chhau and Odissi. Her performance recieved a huge round of applause.


Towards the end, the academy presented ‘Vysakhi Excellence Award’ to Dona Ganguly, ‘Naatyasri’ to Kottakkal Nandakumaran Nair, Kathakali exponent from Kerala and  ‘Yuva Naatyasri’ to Bhagyasri.

Several eminent personalities including Y Lakshmana Rao, chairman of ICCR, Hyderabad; Ramana, Executive Director of HPCL and Sudagani Ravi Shankar Narayan, Additional Commissioner of Income Tax attended the festival as guests. Dr Perala Balamuralikrishna did a great job with his timely poetic narration.

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