KOCHI: When Kuchipudi dance couple Devi and Girish stepped onto the stage at the Festival of India event held at Mandalay in Myanmar, they were happy to see the huge turnout for their show. This was the first time, after many years, the Myanmar government was opening the doors of its capital to host the event organised by the Ministry of Culture in India.
“It was also interesting to note the turnout of the Malayalees for the show at Mandalay. The people of Myanmar were also very welcoming. By the end of the show, many people, who have never heard a Sanskrit dialogue, said they found our performance enthralling and they took back many life lessons,” said Devi regarding the dance drama ‘Arjunah Deasanameeyam’.
The production is originally designed in Sanskrit and it is the essence of the Mahabharatha through ten names of Arjuna. At Nay Pyi Daw, Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attended. “When we saw that she was the special guest at the event, we felt a bit worried. However, after the event, she had the grace to come up to the stage and congratulate us on our performance. She was specifically glad to see my young daughter who is aged six also perform on stage with us,” she said.
‘Festivals of India’ project
Devi, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, and Girish who is from Andhra Pradesh are empanelled artists of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. For the past seven years, they have been graded as ‘Promising Category Artists’ to work with the Ministry of Culture in the ‘Festivals of India Abroad’ project as part of focused strategy for strengthening international cultural relations and enhancing India’s soft power. At Myanmar, the event was conducted as part of the 70th Indian Independence Day celebrations.
The couple are the founder members of Aathmakalpa Dance Ensemble, where they impart training in Kuchipudi. Girish and Devi initially performed together internationally in China at the Festival of India under the aegis of Indian Council of Cultural Relations. They have also performed for the 12th World Women’s’ Congress 2014 which was held in India for the first time that focused on the theme ‘Gender in a changing world’.
Promising category artists
The artists have been graded as ‘Promising Category Artists’ to work with the Ministry of Culture in the ‘Festivals of India Abroad’ project