Well-rehearsed and synchronised, Jaikishore Mosalikanti, Padmavani and along with dancers from Shivamohanam, fairly scorched the stage at The Music Academy with the Tyagaraja pancharatna kriti, ‘Jagadananda karaka’ (Nattai). The visualisation by guru Vempati Chinna Satyam was adapted by Jaikishore for a group — one should appreciate the perfect timing of the frequent entries and exits, but the action became tiring after a while, distracting from the beauty of the piece, whose order of charanams required correction as well.
Of course the performing arts ought to be dynamic for the sake of continuity.
As per the late scholar Sunil Kothari, there is historic evidence of the Kuchipudi dance drama tradition in the Telugu-speaking areas in the 15th century.
From the 1930s to the freedom movement, when indigenous art forms were being revived, Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri and his son Jagannath Sarma, travelled across erstwhile Andhra presenting solos for the first time. They went on to teach women, added Tarangams (dancing on the brass plate) and more to popularise Kuchipudi.
The solo style remained and women became the stars. But, now Kuchipudi group presentations are making a comeback, not as dance dramas, but by adapting solo choreographies or creating new ones. While this is more inclusive, it requires standardisation, sacrificing the beautiful lilt and folksy flavour of Kuchipudi.
There’s no faulting Jaikishore’s choice of songs and musicians — Sweta Prasad as singer, Easwar Ramakrishnan (violin), Muthukumar Balakrishnan (flute), along with S. Aadith Narayan (nattuvangam) and B.P. Hari Babu (mridangam).
‘Omkarakarini’ (Lavangi, Adi, M. Balamuralikrishna), a duet between Jaikishore and Padmavani, detailed Devi as Durga the fierce warrior and as the compassionate one, with a slow-paced jathi in between. Then came the piece de resistance of the evening, ‘Vedalera vayyarulu’ — a daruvu, an excerpt from Guru Vempati’s dance drama ‘Vipranarayana Charitham’. Set to raga Kedara Gowla and Adi tala, written by Devulapalli Krishna Sastri, music by Balantrapu Rajani Kanta Rao, it deals with a woman, Devadevi, ornamenting herself to entice saint Vipranarayana. Her walk and smile were a delight to watch; it brought out the best in Kuchipudi. It was performed by Vedya Sphoorthi Konda, Ala Gopal and Lekshmi Reghunath.
Again Siva Tarangam (Narayana Tirtha, set to Ragamalika and Adi tala, music by Ramesh Jetty, choreography by Jaikishore Mosalikanti) was an ensemble event, highlighted by the nadai-bedam brass plate sequence. Kudos to the dancers and musicians for the perfect timing. The other dancers in the group were Abhinav Ashok, Sammohana Mosalikanti, and Sathwika Reddy. Jaikishore Mosalikanti’s ‘Kuchipudi Nrityamaalika’ was high on energy but not on bhava.
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