Kuchipudi carousel enchants audience in Hyderabad

Presented as a Ganesha invocatory piece, it was choreographed by Guru Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam.
Vyshnavi Korlakunta
Vyshnavi Korlakunta

HYDERABAD: Amidst the beautiful backdrop of art pieces adorning the walls of Dhi Artspace, with subtle lighting complementing the hall, Vyshnavi Korlakunta and Medha Srigiri together started to weave the magic of Kuchipudi. While Vyshnavi recited the Naandi Stuti (a pre-performance ritual), Medha graced the stage with dance at Kuchipudi Carousel, hosted by Dhi Collective. Kuchipudi Carousel aimed to showcase different types of performances and pieces that exist in Kuchipudi, ranging from dance drama theatre forms to solo performances.

With Purandara Dasa’s Keertana, set to Hamsadhvani ragam and Adi talam, Medha Srigiri commenced the show. Presented as a Ganesha invocatory piece, it was choreographed by Guru Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam. Subsequently, Vyshnavi presented the dance drama “Hiranya Kasyapa Daruvu,” taken from the Prahlada Natakam, the very first Yakshaganam in Kuchipudi. This Daruvu, set in Saveri Ragam and Adi Talam, depicts Hiranyakasyapa’s entry to his court.

“Kuchipudi generally is presented either in a solo format or in a theatrical style in performances. This time we wanted to show both styles together in a single performance, hence we chose the pieces from both the solo repertoire of Kuchipudi and a few excerpts from the theatrical style of Kuchipudi. We chose the pieces to show how Kuchipudi evolved from a theatrical style to a solo format, taking pieces from Yakshaganams, Kalapams, Sabdams, Padams, Tarangam, and Kriti format so the audience can understand how the literature, music, and movement formats evolved over time in Kuchipudi,” Vyshnavi Korlakunta elaborated.

Most of the pieces that Vyshnavi demonstrated are from the dance drama repertoire, reflecting her focused training in that style. In contrast, Medha, having learned Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam’s style of Kuchipudi, performed pieces choreographed for the solo repertoire. Together, they presented “Bhamakalapam,” the exquisite creation of the saint—poet Siddhendra Yogi. This piece holds a prestigious place in the line of Bhagavatha stories, having been sung and performed for centuries by the Kuchipudi Bhagavata families.

Among the principal characters of “Bhamakalapam,” Vyshnavi enacted the beautiful and confident queen of Krishna, Satyabhama, while Medha portrayed Satyabhama’s friend and confidant, Madhavi, who acts as an intermediary between Satyabhama and her lord. The performance of “Bhamakalapam” featured Madhyamavathi and Bhairavi ragas, where the conversation revolves around Satyabhama describing Krishna, as she is too shy to utter her lord’s name directly.

Talking about “Bhamakalapam,” Vyshnavi explained, “In the Bhamakalapam excerpts, (probably for the first time), Madhavi’s dialogues were done in English while Satyabhama speaks in Telugu. This is for the non-Telugu audience to understand the conversation and enjoy the humour, while the essence and beauty of Telugu is retained in Satyabhama’s voice, making it a bilingual conversation.”

Next, Medha’s performance delved into the beauty of “Ramayana Shabdam,” set to Mohana raagam, where the dancer praises Lord Rama. This piece, written by Melatturu Kasinadhayya and choreographed by Guru Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam, showcases the beauty of konagulu, a nritta section where the dancer links her toes together and dances. Medha elegantly presented this intricate section, highlighting the grace and rhythm of the choreography.

Vyshnavi then presented “Atthavarooriki Amperu Mavaaru,” a Muvva Gopala Padam attributed to Kshetrayya, taken from the notebook of Malladi Ramakrishna Garu. This piece portrays the anguish of a teenage girl who is being sent to her in-laws’ place. The young girl bids goodbye to Krishna, on whom she has developed affection in the meantime.

Medha concluded her performance with a “Govardhanagiridara Tarangam,” set to Darbari Kanada raagam and Triputa talam. This piece is from the Krishna Leela Tarangini, a text by Narayana Theertha Kavi. The excerpt features Medha dancing on the rim of the dance plate, showcasing her rhythmic prowess in a pure nritta section filled with primary jathis. This piece, too, is choreographed by Guru Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam.

The final rendition, “Bho Shambho,” a composition by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, describes the philosophy of Shiva. Vyshnavi enacted the Gangavathanam scene, depicting how the river Ganga was adorned in the matted locks of Shiva. “We are very grateful to Dhi Collective for this opportunity to showcase our craft in an interactive way to art and dance enthusiasts. While showcasing our dance abilities, we could also showcase our contextual knowledge from our masters in Kuchipudi courses,” concluded Medha Srigiri.

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