KUCHIPUDI: Dr. Alekhya turned every piece into a work of art.
At first sight, all one could see of Dr. Alekhya was the shimmer - the shimmer of a heavily brocaded copper sulphate blue georgette dance costume and the shimmer of generous layers of jewellery on her person. But once you got past the shimmer and could focus on the dance and the dancer, you realised just how talented she is.
Alekhya, noted Kuchipudi dancer, is a disciple of gurus Dr. Uma Rama Rao and Pasumarthi Krishnamurthy. She teaches at the Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, and runs a dance school, Trishna, too. Her doctorate thesis was 'Kshetrayya Padams and their importance in the Abhinaya aspect of Kuchipudi dance.' But these qualifications mean nothing when compared to her artistry. The dancer could turn every piece into a work of art with her vibrant presence, good timing and brilliant acting.
Alekhya's Kuchipudi style retains some of the informality of its parent style, the Yakshagana. There is no linearity in the movements, the steps themselves have a limited role, the pace is always brisk and there is the dominance of the earthy loka dharmi style of expression.
The masterpiece that evening was undoubtedly, 'Ati Nirupama Sundarakara' (Pantuvarali, tisra gati Adi, Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer) on Krishna and his incomparable beauty. As Alekhya completed Krishna's description in the 'Kalinga Narthana' sloka (Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer), her eyes filled with tears in awe. She bent over in supplication and snap! In seconds she was back again as a performing artist. Crisp korvais set in cycles of 4, 3, 5 and 7 executed with strong footwork and dramatic sound effects (Renuka Prasad- nattuvangam, Vinod Kumar-mridangam, Srikanth- kanjira, tabla) filled the ears as Alekhya went back into the 'awe and surrender' mode in the end. What a show!
Again in the 'Maheshwari Mahakali' composition (Misra Sivaranjani, misra chapu, Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao) Alekhya's beautiful doe-shaped eyes did the talking. Contrasting the ghora or fierce form of Kali was the saumya or the gentle and compassionate form of Maheshwari, both highlighted side by side with only a small change in expression and stance. Preceded by the opening lines of the Lalitha Sahasranamam and succeeded by the Mahishasura Mardhini sloka and the Devi mantra 'Ya Sarva Bhuteshu', there was not a dull moment.
Alekhya had some wonderful musicians who made a difference: K. Chandar Rao (vocal), V.B.S. Murali (flute) and Ganesh (violin). The costume was by Sudarshan.