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Sree Rekha: An Empowered Dancer

Text: Paul Nicodemus

The empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description – Steve Maraboli. Generally, we find men continuing the family tradition but women like Rekha prove that women are no less. She is a perfect example for an empowered woman continuing the Temple Dance legacy that she inherited from her mother and grandfather. Even marriage did not stop her from pursuing her passion. She stands as an example for many others to follow.

Voleti Sree Rekha was born in an artistic family in Ahmedabad. She is the daughter of famed dance guru Voleti Rangamani and her grandfather CR Acharya was a renowned guru of Kuchipudi and Temple dances. Right from her childhood, she grew up in an atmosphere of dance, watching his grandfather and mother perform and teach. She began learning dance at the age of 6. Her first performance came on stage happened during her 7th grade. After few performances and recognition, her interest in dance turned into her passion. Since then, she has been dedicated to the art form of Kuchipudi. Continuing the family tradition she is specialised in Devalaya Aaradhana Nrityams (Temple dance).

She grew up in Hyderabad where her mother had established Abhinaya Darpana Arts Academy, an institute for Kuchipudi and temple ritual dances in 1980. Her mother Rangamani has been her role model, inspiration and teacher. Her grandfather CR Acharya was an internationally renowned and dedicated guru of Kuchipudi and temple dances. He was an acknowledged authority in Karnaas, Tandavams and Prenkhini  Natyams in which the dancer forms the holy portraits with footwork. He has brought back the ancient culture to limelight after conducting a rigorous research on this subject. His daughter, Rangamani was closely associated in his research work and continued the tradition. Acharya frequently visited Hyderabad and taught dance and Rekha imbibed the tradition from her Grandfather and mother.

Hereditarily acquired talent has helped her in learning the dance items in a short period. She has become proficient Kuchipudi dancer and participated in the programmes, conducted by her mother. Participation in the workshops and seminars helped her. She has performed key roles in several ballets. She has performed temple ritual dances, Simhanandini, Mayurakauthvam and Mahalaxmi Udbhavam several times at various places across the country. Her performance in Singapore received a standing ovation from the audience. Rekha says that the character of Vishnumurthy has been her favourite to recite. She loves Kuchipudi for its vachika abhinaya, subtle grace and the ample scope it provides to enactment and lip sync while performing. In the days to come, she wants to compose many dance ballets taking her mother’s choreography as an inspiration. Devalaya Aaradhana Nrityams have been niche items and she wants to propagate them for the future generations. Apart from being a performing artiste, she has also been teaching and training students. So far she has trained more than 500 students through the academy and its training centres. In the days to come, she aspires to establish more centres in the country.

Rekha possesses great command over Karanams, Tandavams, Javalis, Padalu, Shabdalu, Ashtapadulu and Daruvu of Kuchipudi tradition. She currently serves as the Assistant Dance Director at Abhinaya Darpana Arts Academy.

She completed her Certificate and Diploma courses in Kuchipudi dance from Government Music College and post-graduation M.A. in Kuchipudi dance with a distinction from Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University. She has given performances of Simhanandini (lion), Mayura Kauthvam (peacock), Mahalakshmi Udbhavam dances in Singapore, Dubai, Sharjah, Kuwait. She is specialised in performing Alamelumanga Vilasam, Bhama Kalapam, Girija Kalyanam, Kumara Sambhavam, Jaya Jaya Durge,  Mahishasura Mardini, Gajendra Moksham, Goda Kalyanam, Kumarasambhavam, Harithabharati, Samaikyabharati, Geetasachchidanandam and Sankranti Sambaralu dance ballets.     Her choreographed items for special occasions include Shiva Tandava Stotram, Alamelumanga Antharangam ballet composed with famous Annamacharya Keerthanas, Radha Krishna Premamrutham composed with famous Jayadeva Ashtapadi, Narasimha Stotram and Tyagaraja Pancharatna Keerthana – ‘Jagadananda Karaka’

She has organised short-term workshops at Vijayawada, Eluru, Hyderabad for advanced students in Kuchipudi and Temple Ritual Dances.