I am rearing ahead in full speed: Kuchipudi dance exponent Dr Alekhya Punjala
Kuchipudi dance exponent Dr Alekhya Punjala speaks to CE about her journey as an academician and a performing artiste spanning over decades and more.
Published: 25th August 2022 12:47 AM | Last Updated: 25th August 2022 12:47 AM | A+A A-
HYDERABAD: From being a student at the Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University to becoming its first woman registrar, Kuchipudi dance exponent Dr Alekhya Punjala has come a long way with sheer hard work and dedication. An exponent in both the Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam styles of dance, recipient of the prestigious Ugadi Visisht Puraskar for the year 2002 by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, as well as the highly coveted Hamsa Award for her service and commitment to Dance, Dr Alekhya started dancing at a very tender age of three under the tutelage of Late Dayal Sharan.
Continuing with Dr Uma Rama Rao. “I am privileged that I was born and brought up in Telangana. I am blessed to be trained by the best and my three-decade-long journey has been a passionate one,” shares Dr Alekhya, adding, “Recognitions, awards, felicitations that I receive give me a lot of satisfaction. In 2015, just after Telangana state was formed, K Chandrashekar Rao, the Chief Minister of Telangana, felicitated me along with others for our contribution to the creative field. After all these years, the happiness and gratification of being felicitated again by him is a great feeling.”
Dr Alekhya has performed at some of the prestigious festivals and venues in India and abroad. She also was awarded the highly acclaimed Prathibha Rajiv Puraskar (2009). Not many know, that Dr Alekhya is a graduate in English Literature, psychology and philosophy and also holds a bachelor’s degree in dance (Bharatanatyam) at Osmania University. She also holds a postgraduate degree in ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology. Dr Alekhya has been awarded a PhD for her extensive work on Kshetrayya Padams' importance in the Abhinaya Aspect of Kuchipudi dance, A Historical perspective.
Apart from her on-stage performances and the above-mentioned academic pursuits, Dr Alekhya has been actively involved in teaching and propagating dance. “Just before Covid-19 took place, I took VRS from my role at the Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, to concentrate on teaching and performing. During the pandemic it was a tough time for all artists as through online platforms only a bare minimum can be done, that too without much creative satisfaction,” she shares.
Talking about what she is currently working on, she says, “I was recently a part of a multi-style production that fused dance and theatre to shed light on the stories of seven of India’s iconic women in Delhi. Titled Warrior Women of Bharat, the hour-and-a-half-long dance ballad saw seven of India’s top danseuses Prathibha Prahlad, Shovana Narayan, Anita Ratnam, Gopika Varma, Sharodi Saikia, Meera Das and me pay tribute to the invincible spirit of Rani Velu Nachiyar, Rani Chennamma, Rani Avanti Bai, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kanaklata Barua and Captain Lakshmi Sehgal. I played the role of Rani Velu Nachiyar, the queen of the Sivaganga estate from the 1780s. She was the first Indian queen to wage war with the East India Company in India. She is known by Tamils as Veeramangai.”
Dr Alekhya is planning to get the production in Hyderabad too. “I am in talks with Ravindra Bharathi for suitable slots. Apart from this, I am also working on two other projects which are in the pipeline. I don’t want to stop now, just rear ahead with all my might,” concludes the danseuse.
Recently on the occasion of 75 years of Indian Independence, Kuchipudi dance exponent Dr Alekhya Punjala was felicitated by K Chandrashekar Rao, the Chief Minister of Telangana, for her contribution to the performing arts (dance) field. CE speaks to her about her journey as an academician and a performing artiste spanning over decades and more.