Sri. Vempati Chinna Satyam troupe’s - Sri Krishna Parijatham Mesmerizes Bay Area
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25 September 2014

Padma Bhushan, Maestro Sri Vempati Chinna Satyam whose name is synonymous with Kuchipudi dance form itself has over 180 solo dance choreographies and over 15 dance dramas to his credit. Sri Krishna Parijatam is one of his first dance dramas that immensely popularized the Kuchipudi Art Academy started by the late Guru Chinna Satyam. Although he is not present among us today, his unsurpassable legacy still continues to enchant and amaze us through the performances of many of his students and his immediate family members. Bay Area had the rare opportunity to witness a combination of these beautiful compositions set forth by an elite group of dancers that were directly trained by the great guru himself. This performance was proudly hosted by Bay Area Telugu Association.

This artistically rich evening started at 6pm as the curtains were drawn at The Center for Performing Arts in the premises of Menlo-Atherton high school in Atherton, CA. A classically decorated stage with garlands of flowers and swags was a perfect background to showcase the dancers. To the left of the stage was a shrine adorned with flowers for Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam and to the right was a shrine for Lord Nataraja the protective deity of dance. Ms. Vijaya Aasuri, the cultural chair of Bay Area Telugu Association welcomed the guests and eloquently sounded the praises of the late Guru Chinna Satyam. She then extended a warm welcome to the young nine year old Lakshmi Kameswari, granddaughter of Dr. Chinna Satyam on tour for the first time. After a brief invocatory song, Lakshmi Kameswari enthusiastically opened the stage for the evening with Ganesha Kautwam, set to ragam, gowla/arabhi and talam, Adi. The lyrics were set originally by Dr. Bala Murali Krishna. With the grace and technical ability of an adult dancer, the little nine year old, marveled the crowd with her dance skills.

This was followed by Manduka Sabdam, another solo performence by Amaranth gosh. Set to Ragam: Ragamalika, Talam: Adi and Scripted by Kasinatha kavi, it’s the story of Gajendra an elephant king caught in the Jaws of a crocodile who was unable to free himself despite his might and power. Finally he calls for and surrenders to lord Vishnu who releases him from the crocodile’s clutches and saves him. This dance story was so beautifully performed, it barely needed any explanation. Amarnath’s hand gestures, expressions and body movements so gracefully portrayed a dancing peacock, skipping deer and a majestic elephant indicating peace in the jungle and as the story progressed, immediately transformed the mood to portray a fierce battle between the relentless crocodile and the desperate elephant king. The piece ended with the involved depiction of surrender and prayer by the majestic elephant king to Lord Vishnu the savior.

The little nine year old Lakshmi Kameshwari returned back to stage to wow everyone with yet another solo performance, Siva Stuthi set to ragam: Ragamalika, talam: Adi and Script by Devilapalli Krishna sastry. This piece depicted lord Nataraja in his various dance forms while many of the gods watched awestruck by his captivating display of artistry. Lakshmi Kameshwari also captivated the present audience by transforming in to various rigorous poses which require agility only acquired through practice and perseverance. Each pose was received with applause from the delighted audience.

This amazing child immediately returned back on stage to perform Ramayana Shabdam joined by Amaranth and Manvita. Set to ragam: Mohana, talam: Adi and script by Kasinatha kavi, this is an abridged form of Ramayana. Combined, the trio took turns to tell the story of Rama by portraying various characters of Ramayana including Lakshmana, Rama’s brother who never left his side, Sita his devout concert, Hanuman his highest devotee who oversees building a bridge to Lanka and Ravana in a fierce battle with Rama.

Next came Thillana, an item specifically choreographed by Dr. Chinna Satyam to showcase the foot work and technique of pure dance through various combinations of steps known as Jatis performed at a varied pace. Set in Ragam: Hindola, talam: Adi, this piece payed homage to Siddhendra Yogi, the father of Kuchipudi. It was performed by Aruna akella, Kanchana Allanki, Vishnupriya Veerina, Ishita Valluru, and Manvita who were trained in the last week in an intensive workshop by Vempati Ravi and Vempati Srimayi.

After a short break in the program, finally it was time to unveil the well awaited dance ballet, Sri Krishna Parijatam. As briefly described by Vijaya Aasuri, this ballet contained four scenes which were scripted by S.v. Bhujanga Raya Sarma, set to music by Dwaram Bhava Narayana and Patrayani Sangeeta Rao and composed by guru Vempati Chinna Satyam.

The first scene opens with Madhuri Kishore as Rukmini Devi praying and welcoming lord Krishna played by Himabindu Challa with utmost affection and devotion for the lord which leads to a beautiful, romantic dance routine. This piece captured the essence of divine love and yet showcased the mastery of these seasoned dancers as they each gracefully mounted the rim of a copper platter atop which they danced exhibiting control and finesse without missing a beat or expression. While in divine trance, the couple got interrupted by Saint Narada played by Amaranath Ghosh who so playfully enters the scene as if he floated on to the stage over a cloud to present Lord Krishna with the rare divine flower Parijata and urges him to give it to his favorite concert. As Krishna places this divine flower in Rukmini Devi’s braid, the scene ends.

The second and third scenes belong to the famous princess Satya Bhama, played by Srimayi Vempati. A beautiful Satyabhama in her very long famed braid, adorned with the most prized jewels sings and dances with pride of her position, power and beauty. Yet, she starts pining for her lord and swallows her pride to express her loneliness and longing for lord Krishna in a letter. At this very moment Saint Narada visits to deliver the news that Lord Krishna might have presented Rukmini with the Parijata flower. The wonderful myriad of emotions expressed by Ms Vempati as a proud and pining Satyabhama until this moment were only the start. As the third scene proceeds and Lord Krishna enters, her abhinaya achieved an exceptional level taking the audience on an expedition of Satyabhama’s emotions of pain, anger and love for Krishna clouded by her own pride. It was captivating and entertaining to watch Satyabhama manipulate Lord Krishna with her cold shoulder and sharp throws of her braid to present her with the whole Parijata tree.

Then came the last scene where Satyabhama realizes although the tree is in her yard, the flowers are reaped by Rukmini and storms into the loving embrace of Krishna and Rukmini where a physical fight for the lord ensues between Satya Bhama and Rukmini. The foot work and hand gestures set to a fast paced music in this scene create a climactic ending where Saint Narada reappears to settle the issue. After an explanation from Narada, Satyabhama surrenders her pride and accepts that Lord Krishna belongs to everyone and cannot be her own. The ballet concludes with a beautiful dance in praise of lord Krishna and his divine love.

All the remarkable dancers reappeared on stage and were gracefully honored with trophies, flowers and shawls. Sri Vempati Venkat who headed this tour, spoke fondly of their experience in the past week and expressed thanks to the excellent help and support provided by Bay Area Telugu Association. He promised to be back in the next couple of years with another dance ballet. Vijaya Aasuri then introduced Kalyan Kattamuri, the president of BATA who in turn, invited the entire committee and volunteers on stage.

He introduced the BATA committee consisting of  Sireesha Battula(Vice president), Yaswanth Kudaravalli(Secretary), Sumanth Pusuluri(Treasurer ) , Harinath Chikoti(Joint Secretary),

Steering Committee consisting of Prasad Mangina , Ravi Thiruveedula, Ramesh Konda, Kamesh Malla & Karun Veligeti,

Cultural Committee - Sridevi Pasupuleti, Kiran Vinnakota,Srilu Veligeti, Taraka Deepti & Rathna Pandian, Logistics committee - Srikar Boddu (Video & Photos), Naresh Gajula & Hari Prasad Moyyi, BATA “Advisory Board” Jayaram Komati, Vijaya Aasuri & Veeru Vuppala.

He thanked the incredible effort put forth by the performers to carry the legacy of late Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, and last but not least the wonderful patrons of the night who made the performance a grand success.




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