Sydney pays homage to Guru Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Satyam

By Sumathi Krishnan

Vempati Narthanam, paid homage to Guru , the Kuchipudi dancer whose life’s dedication saw the evolution of an unique attractive and dynamic dance genre of Kuchipudi.

Kalabharathi Performing Arts and its collective dancers presented amongst others, the thoroughly captivating Kuchipudi dancer, Priyanka Vempati, from the Vempati lineage, and four other talented students of the Vempati style of dance, Sailaja and Shobana Kambhammetu and Vanaja Dasika at the The Independent Theatre North Sydney on the 17 November 2018.

The heritage venue prides itself in being one of the oldest situated in the prestigious north shore of Sydney  dedicated to Culture and Arts.

Despite the sparse marketing for the program, a healthy audience was present to witness Vempati’s style come to life.

True to the margam, the performance commenced with an invocation to Lord Ganesha in Vande Umasutham set to Ragam Hamsadhvani, composed and choreographed by Kalaratna Vempati Ravishankar set to Pancha jaathi and performed by Sailaja Kambhammetu & Shobhana Kambhammettu, exquisitely inviting the Lord to pave the way. The dancers presented beautiful poses of Lord Ganesha together and brought on the unique Ganesha walk, particular to this style and set the mood for the audience.

The second item was Narayaneeyam, set to a ragamalika. Naraneeyam is a traditional text by Melputhur Narayana Bhattathiri, and Manasa Sancharare. The verses of the Narayaneeyam were composed by Sadashiva Brahmendran, choreographed by Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Satyam in Adi thalam. This item introduced Priyanka Vempati and Vanaja Dasika to the audiences for the evening. In what was an exquisite portrayal of Lord Krishna’s life with rhythmic and fast footwork also portrayal of beautiful poses thrown in for good measure.

The next item was the famous composition of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Pannagendra Sayana set in a Ragamalika, choreographed by Kalaratna Vempati Chinna Satyam, set to Rupaka thalam was yet another eye catching padam presented by Shobhana Kambhammettu, as the forlorn nayika who awaits the arrival of her Lord who lies on the serpent. Shobhana was expressive and managed to convey the yearning nayika who is entranced by the beauty of the Lord.

In Narayana Ninna, Shuda Dhanyasi ragam, Adhi thalam, composed by Purandara Dasa and choreopraphed by Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Satyam
Sailaja Kambhammettu. Sailaja displayed a flexibility and rhythmic command in this piece, where she portrayed the troubled nayika, who carries his sweet name like nectar on her tongue and begs the Lord to always keep her in his embrace. She beseeches, hurry come to me, when can I see your gentle walk ?

The highlight of the evening was without doubt, the solo performance of Priyanka Vempati, in Alokhaye Sri Balakrishna, Ragamalika, Adi Thalam. A composition of Narayana Theertha, choreographed by Kalaratna Vempati Ravishankar. The performance was spellbinding in choreography, technique, stage coverage and footwork. The writer wished we could have seen more solo items from the dancer with an outstanding presence on stage and lineage to match.

The evening continued with a performance by Vanaja Dasika to a composition of Gopalakrishna Bharathi set to Adhi Thalam and choreographed by Kalaratna Vempati Ravishankar. The talented team concluded with a Thillana composed by Swathi Thirunal and scored by Dr M Balamuralikrishna, in Jhampa Thalam.

The team presented complicated footwork in unison, in which the panchagathis were explored. Namely different rhythmic fractions within cycles were depicted making it an interesting finale and a high note upon which to finish the evening.

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