Subtle nuances spring forth

Dance festival

In a dance form like kuchipudi that was originally dominated by men, it is interesting to see the contribution of women over the years.

  As a means of celebrating women achievers who have made the dance what it is today, a national dance festival and seminar called Nayika took place at Khincha Auditorium, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on International Women’s Day.

Organised by Shambhavi School of Dance and spearheaded by founder director Vyjayanthi Kashi, the day-long festival began with a unique seminar on ‘Contribution of women to kuchipudi’.

Artistes from different generations — starting from the 60s to modern day — shared their perspectives on the dance. The speakers included legendary danseuse Yamini Krishnamurthy, Kothapalli Padma, Suvarna Latha, Anuradha Janolgodda, Usha Radhakrishna and Vyjayanthi Kashi.

For the non-academic lovers of the dance, the evening session of performances was more appealing.

First up were bharatanatyam and kuchipudi duet and solos by Prateeksha Kashi and Rukmini Vijaykumar, who brought out the subtle nuances of each form.  Then came a duet by Shovana Narayana and Vyjayanthi Kashi, followed by their solo performances.
While Shovana’s kathak moves in Koham mesmerised the crowd, Vyjayanthi’s depiction of Gandhari and Satyabhama portrayed the strength of women.

The last performance was by Anuradha Vikranth and Shama Krishna, who combined bharatnatyam and kuchipudi to bring out the power of goddess Lakshmi.

As part of the festival, the Natyashastra Award was awarded to Yamini Krishnamurthy, following which a documentary on her was screened.

Also launched on the occasion was ‘Magic of Kuchipudi’, a DVD made by Vyjayanthi Kashi that presented old kuchipudi pieces that have been reinvented by her.

Asked about the response to the festival, Vyjayanthi said, “Women have contributed immensely towards kuchipudi. Unfortunately, there’s no documentation of these women, be it as performers or gurus. Our intention was to highlight the works of the well-known and lesser-known women who have taken kuchipudi to the global platform. The academic seminar was needed as youngsters and anyone interested in the dance needs to know certain facets of it. But it was the evening’s performances that drew an overwhelming response.”

Interestingly, there were more women than men in the crowd. The number of youngsters present was also impressive.  “The seminar was great because not only did each speaker share a unique perspective but also demonstrated the various styles. The dances were also wonderful and each woman seemed really connected to their individual pieces. It was a pleasure to watch,” said Janaki, an audience member.

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