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Forgotten traditions

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Swapna Sundari.
Swapna Sundari.

A. RAMALINGA SASTRY

Swapna Sundari presented a lec-dem.

The 10th annual fete of Andhra Music Academy got off to a grand start last week with the one-hour vocal recital presented by Vishnupriya of Tirupati. She set an aesthetic ambience for the elaborate lecture-demonstration session that followed by Swapna Sundari.

A recipient of many prestigious awards including the Padma Bhushan at a young age, Swapna Sundari is a dancer, composer-singer of dance music, choreographer, and expert exponent of Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi. She proved to be an incisive researcher too, reinterpreting the forgotten temple traditions of Andhra as Vilasini Natyam.

She rendered a lecture-demonstration preceded by a PowerPoint presentation on how she was trained and guided by traditional gurus like Maddula Lakshminarayana. It also brought out how noted writer-poet and lyricist Arudra helped her to establish that the age-old literary works in lyric form she found in some Orissa museums reveal the Bharatham of Andhra temple and court dancers, and indicate the need of their separate identity.

Some of her disciples demonstrated nritta and nritya aspects, highlighting some of the specific features of the form of their naatyam. Hence, it was recast and termed as Vilasini Natyam. Standard Telugu-English dictionaries denote Vilaasini as a frivolous or even coquettish woman. So how the temple and court dancers who were hitherto known as devadasis and Rajasthana Narthakee Manulu could be grouped together as Vilaasinis and their naatyam as Vilasini natyam, became a moot point among connoisseurs.


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