Veteran Kuchipudi dancer Usha Gayatri presented a beautiful ballet on Rukmini and Satyabhama.
Rukmini and Satyabhama are consorts of Lord Krishna, having different stories behind their marriages with the Lord. Usha Gayatri, noted Kuchipudi dancer and guru, thought of presenting these characters in contrast in a single ballet titled Rukmini-Satya. For this purpose, she used the available text in Pothana Bhagavatam and some tarangas of Narayana Teertha to narrate the episode of Rukmini, and then the full text of Siddhendra Yogi's Bhamakalapam to reflect Satyabhama's temperament and dedication to Lord Krishna. This ballet was presented at Ravindra Bharati under the auspices of the South Indian Cultural Association.
Both the stories of Rukmini and Satyabhama are well known.
How to fit them in the ballet format is the question. Usha sensibly used classical elements in the Sanskrit lyrics of Narayana Teertha from his Srikrishna Leela Tharangini while narrating the popular story of Rukmini Kalyanam, where her father Bhishmaka initially proposes to give his daughter to Sisupala, not to Srikrishna, whom Rukmini dearly loves. The dance bits to the vocal rhythmic syllables at one stage were well gone through by Usha Gayatri. She sends a letter through Agnidyotha to Srikrishna to take her away. Srikrishna happily responds to her request and whisks her away on a chariot that was also shown on the stage as a technical addition.
This part also incorporated Krishna's dance in Dwaraka in joyous mood for a popular Tarangam depicting queer footwork in the lines Vyatyasta Paddaaravinda and so on.
When it came to presenting the episode of Satyabhama, Bhamakalapam was at hand. On the occasion, Usha presented the full text of the kalapam with all the Daruvus, Kandardhas, the intermittent exchanges between Satya and her maid Madhavi, and so on. The letter writing scene, in metrical element choornika was well-presented by Usha.
The way she presented different pieces of drama in the Rukmini and Satyabhama episodes were well gone through with an underlining theme of ‘union of Atma with Paramatma'. Usha Gayatri had two Krishnas: Gauthami for the Rukmini episode and Abhirami for the Satyabhama episode, while Usha figured both as Rukmini and Satyabhama. Ramya Veni was Agnidyotudu, who carried the letter in the Rukmini episode, and Sahiti was Madhavi who too carried Satyabhama's letter to Krishna.
Srivalli Sarma provided vocal support, while Pasuparthy Seshubabu lent vocal support to male characters and also conducted the dances. Sridharacharya was on mridangam. Anilkumar on violin, Sudhakar on veena, Murali on flute, and Srikanth providing effects added to the ensemble's richness. Surabhi Poorna provided sets and lighting effects.