Dance Glorified in Andhra’s Alpha City

Amaravati Nrithyotsav, 2017

Octogenarian Padmashree Darshana Javeri giving a Matured and experienced performance during Amaravathi Nrithyotsav

         Dance festivals are integral part of the nation’s culture. These festivals showcase art forms which are performed to the strong beats of percussion music by artists who share the same culture.  Irrespective of any parameters such as caste, color, creed, sex and religion these festivals give equal opportunities to individuals to elevate their cultural savvy. These dance carnivals add to the merry-making and festivities.

As part of the same, Nataraj Music and Dance Academy had organized  Indian Dance Festival  “Amaravati Nrithyotav” on 2nd and 3rd December, 2017 at Siddhartha Auditorium, Mogalarajapuram, Vijayawada. The two-day event was a splendid blend of all classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak Odissi and many more. The motive of the  National Dance Festival was to showcase the hidden talent of the kindled spirits and flairs of the legendary  artisans across the country.

The event was categorized into two phases: Solo and Group performances. Many upcoming and renowned artistes were a part of it. The Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA & CA), Dr. Sreedhar Cherukuri was the Chief Guest of the function. Other dignitaries were Additional. Commissioners of Income Tax,  Sudagani Ravishankar Narayan  and CV Pavan Kumar, Ex MLC, CMD of Hotel Ilapuram, Ilapuram Venkaiah, Director of Department of Language and Culture Dr. D Vijaya Bhaskar, Retd. Deputy Collector SVL Narasimha Rao, Fesitval Chairman Ilapuram Raja and Editor-in-Chief of Monthly Cultural Magazine ‘The Dance India’ BR Vikram Kumar. The program commenced on a devotional note by lighting the lamp and offering salutations to Lord ‘Nataraja’.

The inaugural day’s program was superlative with some solo dance performances by country’s prominent artists. Especially, Geeta Narayan’s Kuchipudi performance “Choodaramma Satulala” which is a symphonic song by “Annamayya” who described Godadevi ; the divine consort of Lord Venkateshwara as “Andaal” who initially wears a garland and then adorns her deity with it. The song in  Ragamaalika raagam and  Aadi taalam was composed by the NMDA Principal, K. V. Lakshmi. 

Resident of City of Destiny- Visakhapatnam, Geeta Narayan while performing “Astapadi”,  gave her best to elevate the beauty of Lord Krishna and the sacred love among Krishna and Gopikas. She elegantly emphasized the real essence of the divine romance. Another  Ragamaalika song with Aadi taalam and music was composed by Jayadeva (12th Century), was recreated by K. V. Lakshmi. For her highest degree of involvement and contribution to the dance form and breath-taking performance, Geeta Narayan was conferred with ‘Amaravati Award’ during the event.

Padmashree Darshana Javeri, a Manipuri dance exponent from Mumbai has performed along with her team from Natanikkyan Jalpaiguri, North Bengal in the Nrityotsav. This dance item had four forms of styles which included:

  • Jugal Nartan where Lord Krishna and Radha dance with utmost joy and happiness. This chapter is about the Raas-leela which represent Taandav (masculine), Radha’s Laasya (feminine) of Manipuri dance form.
  • Manini Radha – it depicts four “Nayika bhedas” (States of Heroine in love). Here, this phase displays various stages of Radha who waits for Krishna for quite a long time.
  • Mandila Nartan – it is the dance performed during the festival of Jhulan Yatra in August, where the idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are placed on a holy swinger.
  • Mridang Vadan – it is a fascinating display of intricate rhythm patterns on the drum in different ways on “Taal Dashksah” of seven beats and five stresses along with “Taan Panchep” of four beats and one stress.  

The Life-time achievement award was conferred on Padmashree Darshana Javeri by the Jury of NMDA. Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Padmashree Darshana Javeri stated that all of her sisters dedicated their lives to Manipuri Dance Form and  she was the youngest among the sisters. She felt utmost privileged to receive the prestigious lifetime achievement award at Amaravati Nrithyotsav.

One of the eminent Kathak Dance organizations from Bangalore, Nirantara Dance Group, led by Somasekhar Chudanath performed ‘Gan Ganapathaye, Teen Taal and Shiva Vandana.’ Their performance was stunning with appealing costumes, wonderful dance postures and perfect  synchronization among the members of the group. The twirling moves has mesmerized the audience.

Continuing the spirit, the second day’s program started magnificently with the lighting of lamp by the dignitaries, Additional Commissioner – S. Ravi Shankar Narayan, Festival Chairman -Ilapuram Raja, Festival Director- B.R. Vikram Kumar. The Additional Commissioner while addressing the gathering mentioned about the need for a ‘Kalagramam’ – a cultural village for every city and district to protect and promote the region’s culture and art. He also said that, ‘such projects will be encouraged to the maximum possible extent ’.

It was an eye-treat to the audience to see a foreigner Mariia Osmachko, an Odissi dancer from Ukraine dancing in an Indian Dance Festival. She performed on “Hari Riha Mugda”. Radha’s intense experience of love and longing compliments which reflects on Lord Krishna was well depicted through her performance. Her work on Odissi was not only wonderful but also won accolades . She travels all the way from Ukraine, for three months every year to learn Odissi and perform in various programs. Expressing her views on Indian culture, Mariia Osmachko said that “India is a country of diversity which is really rich in cultural heritage.

It is the responsibility of every Indian to preserve the original essence of the various art forms and should continue the legacy to the coming generations. Every individual should be encouraged to uplift the cultural heritage of India”.  

One of the reputed dance groups of Mumbai Thakshasila headed by the Bharatnaatyam exponent Kashmira Trivedi gave one of the best performances.  The participants include-  Swathi Badle, Madhura Pawaskar, Prathibha Kulkarni, Shital Veer, Sakshi Kulkarni, Yadavi Ganguly and Sanika Devalekar. The troupe performed on a theme which praises Lord Ganesha along with Malhari. The concept and choreography was by Kashmira Trivedi. Another item was on “Kirtanam Kshirasagara”, which is the famous Kriti of Saint and poet Tyagaraja who praises Lord Vishnu, choreographed by Guru Deepak Mazumdar, which was individually performed by Kashmira Trivedi not only mesmerized but also left the audience spell-bound.

A great enthusiasm by the viewers was witnessed in all the performances, followed by  and applaudes.

Sumita Bhattacharjee from Kolkata magnetized with her perfection in Bharatanatyam. She performed “Parashakthi” composed by Papanasam Shivan and choreographed by Dr. Saroja Vaidyanathan with a perfect blend of Hamsadwani Raagam in Aadi Taalam and sung by Snigda Venkataramani.

It was a multi-faceted theme of the empowered Goddess- Shakthi, who was extolled to confiscate all the evils, spreading peace and harmony.

Another, Bharatanatyam dancer, Kshitija Barve from Goa showcased her talent through a theme of “Mudhrashtakam” in Ragamaalika Raagam with Aadi Taalam. It is a composition of Shri Vallabhacharya in praise of Lord Krishna, who has a persona of sweetness. Her performance was highly appreciated and was a great attempt adding the cheerfulness in her work.  

Yet another Bharatanaatyam dancer, Sai Sanjana from Chennai performed a “Varnam on Karna” from Mahabharata in Ragamaalika and Aadi taalam. The entire theme revolved around the story of birth and donating of Kavacha-Kundanalu. The charanam elaborated on the qualities of the protagonist. Finally, the varnam ended with a happy note of bhakthi for Karna.

Akruthi, a Kuchipudi dancer from Visakhapatnam has performed on “Krishna Shabdam” which is a traditional composition and a synonymous with Kuchipudi dance style. This item was a  combination of Nritta and Nritya with equal amounts of Mukha-abhinaya. It was in Mohana Ragam and Aadi Taalam.  Though it was a good attempt from her in performing Kuchipudi, but it was noted that the dancer needed ample practice and effective guidance from her teacher in order to give a top notch performance. Much more of perseverance was expected from the art lovers.

Another Kuchipudi dancer from Visakhapatnam Maanasi performed the “Krishna Shabdam” which was always an integral part of the Kuchipudi repertoire right from the Yakshagana period. The Shabdams, literary mean sounds in Telugu are compositions where a Deity or a King is praised by the composer and the dancer. This item was also a combination of Nritta and Nritya with refined facial expressions. It was  Mohana Raagam and Aadi Taalam. Her performance was  commendable.

Narayana, a Kuchipudi dancer from Visakhapatnam performed Shiva Padamanjeeranadam. It  described about the struggle of Lord Bhagiradha who tries to bring Goddess Ganga on to the earth. It continued with the prayer to Lord Shiva to bear the step of Ganga. The play also depicted the lockage of Ganga in Lord Shiva’s hair which is well known as Jata-jutam. The item was in Khanda Taalam.

Roopa Gayatri, a Kuchipudi dancer also from Visakhapatnam, performed for an item which described about Lord Sri Krishna, one who converses with the wise essence of all the vedas as he is the King of kings. She conveyed the praising by sages; Sun and Moon as his eyes through her dance performance. Therefore, the item has set to Attana ragam and Aadi taalam, composed by K. V. Lakshmi. Though it was a good attempt but it was observed that the artist needed ample practice to overcome the stage fear. Because “Practice makes a Man perfect”.

Rachana, a Kuchipudi dancer from Visakhapatnam  has performed on the theme “Brindavana Nilaye” which was a beautiful composition by Oothukadu Venkata Subba Iyer in Reethigowla Raagam with Aadi talam. This composition was later choreographed by Late Guru Vempati Chinnasatyam, a legend in Kuchipudi dance form. Undoubtedly, Rachana did good work and chosed a fine ballet. However, a little more of focus on her foot work and good facial expressions would enable her to present a master-piece.

A. Divya Sree, from Tenali performed  “Gajavandana Beduvey”  in Ragamalika raagam and Aadi taalam. As Ganesh is the Lord who removes obstacles, Divya Sree had performed Kuchipudi dance form for this theme. Despite being the youngest among the participants, Divya Sree stood at par with others as she carried rich facial expressions and postures.

Adding one more to the list of best performances, was Girija Nair from Mumbai whose goodness is known for the maturity levels in the Bharatanatyam fraternity. She presented “Krishnarpanama”. The main concept revolved around the mischief of Lord Krishna where he is found the whole universe in his mouth. Later, the devotee realizes that it was all “Krishna Maya”and surrenders with joy to Lord Krishna. This fantastic act was a concept and choreographed by Guru Deepak Mazumdar. Girija Nair had been best in elevating the concept to reach the audience in a perfect manner.

Madhura Mukherjee, from Kolkatta performed on “Ganapathi Kirtana in Hamsadhwani raagam and Aadi taalam. It was a Kirtana on Lord Ganesha. The item consisted of playful movements which expresses pranaam. She also performed on Kalika Stotram which is an elaboration of different forceful actions and the beautiful grace of Maa Kaali.

Pinkey Choudary , an Kathak exponent from New Delhi performed on “Ganesha Vandana” which included taat, aamad, thithai, etc., and ended with Sargam. Her costume seemed to be most fascinating as it was a wavy lehanga of Persian style with pleasing contour. She mesmerized the audience group with her grace, foot work, expressions and successive twirls.  She got trained and nurtured from legendary artists of the country in Kathak.

As the sky turned dark, the audience developed keen interest to witness the valedictory of this season Amaravati Nrithyothsav. The last stunning performance was “Manishasura Mardini” by K. V. Lakshmi and group from Visakhapatnam. The team members were B. R. Vikram Kumar, Sudha, Teja Sree, Bhagyasri, Joshika, Sujana, Padmini, Tejaswi, Sanjana, Sachita, Aruna Paramesh, and Shreya Pushkar.

As we all know that Goddess Kaalika has assassinated Manishasura who was a demon, this theme also depicts the same. It represented the contemporary situation of women who face many social consequences such as dowry system, acid attacks, suicides, molest, female infanticides in various phases of life. The group attempted to elevate these social issues of women and came up with a message stating that women should be empowered and should be fearless.

They also portrayed how women should act spontaneously during any obstacle and should come out with appropriate ideas in order to save them. Self defense arts should be taught to the women in order to protect themselves from other evil minded humans. The difference between a motherly pain and worldly pleasures are to be well-known to the mankind. With this fantastic dance item of Kuchipudi, the auditorium was filled with laurels and a standing ovation was given to it. It was composed by K. V. Lakshmi. This act clearly explained about the societal evils and brought awareness among the public through this classical art form.

This group also performed “Thillana”, where a thillana is a rhythmic piece in Carnatic music that is generally performed at the end of a concert and was widely used in classical dance performances. A Thillana uses taalam-like phrases in the pallavi and anupallavi with lyrics in the charanam. It was in Raagamalika raagam and Aadi taalam which was composed by legend Dr. late Dr.Mangalampalli Bala Murali Krishna.

This was followed by felicitations by the Chief Patron B. R. Vikram Kumar to all those who were instrumental in the successful organizing of the festival.