Watching experts do things always makes them look so simple. And the audience for this popular annual festival of dance has seen so many Kuchipudi experts perform, excellence is about the bare minimum that it expects. And that is what makes their rising in thunderous applause to the Tarangam of this lady something to write about. What is more remarkable is that she is all of 19 years old. If there were any doubts about the decision to cast her in this festival at such an early stage, they were surely dispelled.
Vidya has been seen as a prodigy even earlier on - she proved to be a proficient Kuchipudi danseuse even when she performed four years ago in town, at barely fifteen. Hailing from Visakhapatnam, the girl is now a student of medicine, and yet finds time to pursue dance with the same zeal and commitment, a fact amply borne out in several facets of today's performance.
The artist of the second day of SICA's Nrityotsav commenced her performance with 'Endaro Mahanubhavulu', a Thyagaraja Pancha Ratna Kirtana. The elaborateness of the song provided ample scope for her abhinaya, and she impressed instantly as an artiste of caliber. And she carried on flawlessly, with every step in time and every bhangima held in perfection. The tempo of the item was brisk.
"Bhajare Gopalam", the next item, was set in Yaman Kalyan, deviating from the original composition in Hindolam. The reason for this became apparent only when the following item started - it was in Hindolam. The Kuchela episode was well executed, and carried the stamp of Guru Bala Kondala Rao's choreography. The interwoven slokas were melodious, thus justifying the choice of Yaman Kalyan, a naturally mellifluous raaga.
Vacche Alamel Manga was an item that depicted the Sringara aspect of dance. The dancer, being still young in years, could not touch on this aspect too well. However, the limelight was taken by the young Mridangist, who included the Dholak too in this item. He played both instruments with equally high degrees of professionalism.
And then came the Tarangam, the best item. It revealing the dancer's prowess fully. The complicated jathis executed on the brass plate won Vidya thunderous applause. "Lekha", an episode from Bhama Kalapam, was well executed, but not as well conceived. It could have done with less elaboration of "Sakunalu Manchivayenamma".
The tillana was brisk, a befitting finale to the program. Vidya, with her natural
grace in nritta and abhinaya, proved to be quite a right choice for this Nrityotsav.