Amaravati Nrithyotsav is a new venture and an added feather in the cap of dance aficionado Vikram Gaud Bathina, who is a Kuchipudi dancer. Straight away from its first year, he made a good start to a festival of dance in the newly-planned capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Being a dance lover, he has planned the Amaravati Festival meticulously and awarded the Life Time Achievement Award 2016 to the well known Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi exponent Yamini Krishnamurthy, who has also received the Padma Bibhushan and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her exceptional contribution to the performing arts. “Cultural heritage is our only pride. It is our treasure and it is everybody’s duty to protect it”, said the cultural baron and the reigning queen of more than three classical dance forms, when she was requested to address the audience.
Amaravati Nrithyotsav manifested the theme of unity in diversity. Nataraj Music and Dance Academy, the only organisation in Andhra Pradesh with Unesco’s International Dance Council membership and an ISO 9001-2008 certificate — also known for organising national and international festivals — has brought the second edition of the Amaravati Nrityotsav to fruition with support from the Andhra Pradesh government’s language and culture department at the Government Music College Auditorium, Vijayawada.
As the first presentation of the day, P Sai Jyothi from Visakhapatnam beautifully performed the Purandhradasu keerthana Gajavahana Veduvey in ragam hamsadwani and talam adi choreographed by Vempati China Satyam. She followed it up with a Thyagaraja Keerthana called Ramayanam in raga maalika and tala maalika. The Tharangam called Naarayana Teerdha Virachitham was about Krishna.
Next up was a stellar performance by Narayani Gotipua Kala Parishad, Odisha, which thoroughly captivated the audience. The ancient dance tradition performed outside the temples of Odisha from the 17th century was a piece of history, presented through acrobatic body movements and telling the stories of Indian mythology. The various characteristics of Devi Durga followed by Bandha Nrutya under the direction of Guru Banuli Bhuyan were depicted through yogic postures and huge formations of pyramids to the amazement of the audience. It was a pure delight.
MSV Vaishnavi Revathi from New Delhi, a talented and upcoming Kuchipudi dancer, enthralled the audience with her rendition of Saraswati Vandanam, Manikya Veena manjula vasina hamsa vahana, in manohara ragam along with Brindavan Nilaye in rathigowla ragam. A power-point presentation of Yamini Krishnamurthy’s presentation is a benchmark that dancers of the future would have to toil hard to reach.
Artistes from Rudraksha Foundation, Bhubaneswar performed Odissi under the supervision of its director Guru Bichitrananda Swain. Bichitra Behera, Santosh Ram, Samir Kumar Panigrahi, Sanjib Kumar Jena, Sumit Behera and Jaginder Pradhan performed three pieces of Swain’s choreographic work. They began their presentation with Surya Stuti Mangalacharan — there was grace and artistry in praising the son of Kashyapa before doing the difficult Surya Namaskar in all its splendour and glory. Fine tuned performers began their rendition with Jagannatha Swamy nayana patha gami bhavatu mei, followed by the chant to Surya, Jaba kusuma sankasan. Whatever the disciples of Swain did was swallowed up by the admiring audience. Taal Tarang, a pure dance piece showcased the intricate rhythmic patterns, prevalent in Odissi with the profuse use of yoga. Percussion instruments, mardala, mrindangam and khanjani accompanied the piece. Postures involving leaps, jumps, sitting with knees flexed with the use of difficult stretches were awesome. Kavyashree Nagaraj, Kavitha K, Shamika B and Shweta Venkatesh disciples of Kathak exponent Mysore B Nagaraj presented four Kathak pieces much to the delight of the audience. They were Ganapathy Mura — offering prayers to Lord Ganesha seeking his blessings, Trivat — a pure nritta item displaying the technicality of the dance form, Palanetra — an ode to Lord Shiva explaining his attributes and Raag Taal Maal — a technical piece showing intricate footwork in various ragas and talas with sublime grace and poise was their hall mark.
Sujata Mohapatra’s students from Guru Keerti Institution, Bhubaneswar mesmerised everyone with their beautiful rendition of Odissi dance. Beautiful dancing maidens that adorn the temple walls had literally descended on the proscenium stage. They performed Mangalacharan, which was a Vishnu Vandana in raag gujari todi set to taal tripata. The choreography was by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and the music was composed by Bijay Kumar Jena.
Megh Pallavi was in raga megh set to taal ardha jhampa, was also a Guru Ratikant Mohapatra choreography. Dasavatar in raag mohana set to taal jhampa was an unique creation of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra with music by the legendary Pandit Bhubaneshwar Mishra. The students of Guru Keerti Institution rounded off their presentation with Moksha in raag bhairavi set to taal ektali, choreographed by Kelucharan Mohapatra with music by Mishra. The performers Soumya Bose, Sancheeta Banerjee, Prashant Jena, Arpita Sengupta, Shilpa Suman Chowdhury and Sushree Mohapatra charmed the audience.
Promising child artist B Sachita from Visakhapatnam began her Kuchipudi recital with Itti Muddulade in raga anandabhairavi set to tala adi. She later presented Chinni Krishna Leelalu expressing various works of Lord Krishna.
The Bharatanatyam duo Shaly Vijaya, Bharatanatyam exponent and senior professor at Kalakshetra, Chennai and Tara Priyadarshini, dancer, teacher and choreographer from Tampa, Florida, USA, captivated the audience with their rendition of Alaripu in raga kalyani and tala roopakam. Devi Kauthuvam, Onkara Rupini Shivakama sundari Shankara ardhangini in raga malika and tala kandha, described the fish shaped eye of Mahamaya as well as her other physical and super natural attributes. Shankara Sri Giri Natha Prabhu, Nitta Birajito Chitra Sabha mei was a popular number performed elegantly. It was set to raga hamsanandhi and tala adi.
The festival proved to be a grand spectacle with a wide variety of dance forms and vibrant performances by the artistes. It will surely be remembered for a long time to come.