Sandhya Raju, a popular exponent of kuchipudi, performed a concert, at the Tirupati Hall, Rajapalayam, in memory of her great grandfather P.A.C. Ramachandra Raja, founder of the Ramco group.
Sandhya’s presentation included classical pieces that she had learnt during her training under guru Vempatti Chinna Satyam, as well as those composed by renowned performer and choreographer, Kishore Mosalikanti. Sandhya’s disciples – Sarmishta, Janani, Nirmala and Darshini – perfomed along with her in the initial and final pieces. Her dance jewellery in red stone matched her costume in pink, and it was a slightly modified version of a typical kuchipudi costume. Her pupils were dressed in identical costumes of white.
The invocation ‘O Vani’ was followed by a pushpanjali. Sandhya portrayed the grace of the dancing lord Siva, through the well-known ‘Brahmanjali,’ which was enlivened by a few short jatis. Kuchipudi is usually not performed to tamil lyrics. But guru Kishore Mosalikanti had found the lyrics of Periyasami Thooran’s ‘Kaliyugavaradhan’ for creating a dramatic and emotional experience. The dancer’s performance, especially when she enacted surasamhara with virtuous anger sparkling through her eyes, was appreciable.
She then took up the challenge of the varnam and performed several jatis that brought out the sprightly verve and quick grace that is the hallmark of this genre. This too was choreographed by Kishore Mosalikanti for Balamurali Krishna’s ‘Amma Jagadambika.’ Her dance for the latter, as she moved backwards on the stage, and attempted several poses were interesting. The bhakti bhava of Tyagaraja’s ‘Ksheerasagara’ in Devagandhari was divine. The dramatic element in Kuchdipudi was exploited to the fullest by the dancer, who enacted several important scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, portraying characters such as Shakuni and Ravana, as well as feminine entities such as Sita and Draupadhi with skill and grace.
Students of her ‘Nishrinkala Dance Academy’ performed the tillana. The final piece, a mangala harathi, was innovative and showed the dancer worshipping the ten avatars of Vishnu sequentially. On the whole her performace was an attempt to preserve the elegance and authenticity of Kuchipudi despite a few innovative inclusions. It goes without saying that she earned the blessings of her great grandfather for her dedicated performance.