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Kuchipudi Dance Festival

Kuchipudi Dance Festival is an event that took place between 17-Nov-2000 and 19-Nov-2000 in Hyderabad.
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It had the likes of Alekhya, Shobha Naidu and Pasumarthy Venkateswara Rao. Obviously then, the three day festival organized by Kinnera Arts Theaters saw a huge attendance. Presenting a day-by-day account.

Day 1, Nov 17
The festival commenced with a pleasant performance by Alekhya. Recently conferred with the title 'Abhinaya Tapasvini' at Rajamundry by many learned scholars, Alekhya lived up to her position by demonstrating an excellent expressional repertoire.

After a brief ritual dance attributed to the omniscient Ganesha, Alekhya chose a series of three numbers in continuation depicting the subtle romance of the divine flute player and a young maiden. Here the Nayika is a 'Mugdha' or an innocent heroine who daydreams of Krishna, and how she desires to unite with him. The extension song and dance showed the heroine in the company of her lover Krishna, taking the liberty to wake him up from his deep sleep. The breezy melody of Malaya Marutam "Meluko Sringararaya Meti Madana Gopala." created a delicate mood, while the dancer explored the poetry with equal grace.

The concluding Tillana in Brindavani was also an extension that showed a dancing and flute playing Krishna enchanting the Gopikas and also the animals and birds that flock towards him, mesmerizing all of them. Vocalist Sweta, percussionist Vinod Kumar and Nattuvanar Raghunandan comprised the musical support.

The following program was a dance ballet choreographed by young Kiranmayi. Titled "Mohana Vamsi", this ballet has many dancers performing the usual Krishna-Radha-Gopika series. Here Krishna's flute is treated as a heroine ever in union with the Lord, whose form is the mesmeric 'music'.

Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna graced the festival formally inaugurated by K Prathibha Bharathi, and with other chief guests like K V Ramana and Boyina Venkateswara Rao.

Day 2, Nov 18
Jagadanandakaraka: This was 'Ramayanam' depicted by Thyagaraja's poetry and Kuchipudi dance. Shobha Naidu appeared once again with her elaborate cast, musicians, makeup artists, set designers and, of course, the team manager. This second evening of Kinnera Art Theater's Kuchipudi Festival saw "Jagadanandakaraka" in all its garish colour and melodrama, which, however, delighted the many fans of Shobha Naidu.

Songs of Thyagaraja in various ragas were organized in a series to illustrate the story of the magnanimous Rama. From the practice of disciplining martial arts in his childhood, his varied adventures in the jungles and the dramatic episode of 'Sita Swayamvaram' to the exile in the forests and the great Lanka episode, the marathon, long- winded ballet almost haunted the audience till back home. Thyagaraja's subtle and much revered songs never seemed so heavy and drawn out.

Shobha Naidu and Padma Hemamalini enacted the lead roles of Rama and Sita, and were on stage throughout. Dr C Narayana Reddy and Dr Uma Rama Rao were the chief guests of the evening.

Day 3, Nov 19
The grand finale of the three-day Kuchipudi festival saw two brilliant dance ballet productions, one of Maddali Usha Gayatri and another of Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma. The former is a conceptual play scripted by Kakaturi Padmavathi, while the latter is a traditional masterpiece of Venkateswara Sarma.

'Yashoda Krishna' of Usha Gayatri, unlike the usual Krishna themes and concepts, draws the image of a universal 'motherhood' that symbolizes life. Yashoda is the picture of the mother who has the liberty to chide, command and give unconditional love to her little Krishna, none other than the Lord of the Universe.

A five-year-old tiny artist Geetika enacted Krishna, while Usha herself explored the role of the 'Universal Mother'. The play had other supporting characters like Nanda (donned by Sruti Reddy) and Rohini (Srilekha Srinivas) apart from a host of other artists. With music aptly composed by Srivalli Sarma, the play, in a broad-spectrum, was meaningfully gentle.

The post interval show, 'Keechaka Vadha', was an intense climax for the festival. This great excerpt from the Mahabharatha the dramatic plot of the Pandava brothers in exile taking refuge at King Virata's palace, where Draupadi confronts the lustful Keechaka. Pasumarthy himself enacted the vigorous anti-hero role of Keechaka, who enters the death trap.

The supercilious Keechaka ("Simha Baludani!"), a determined Draupadi, and the five Pandava brothers in disguises make the plot a through entertainer. Despite staging this production for over 110 times now, the play still attracts audiences, especially because of Pasumarthy's ever-enchanting treatment of the Nrutya Natika with mood music, dialogue and action.
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