BY MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by G.V. Rao
Atlanta, GA, April 2017: Nataraja Natyanjali Kuchipudi Dance Academy presented an enthralling 4th annual dance recital, ‘Darsayami 2017’ and it’s 5th fundraiser, this time for AmanVedika-a Hyderabad, India based non-profit orphanage that shelters, educates and empowers children in need, at the Berkmar High School on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
The show was graced by leading members and leaders of religious and cultural associations of the Indian community; parents and well-wishers. Consul D.V. Singh could not attend the recital but gracefully conveyed his greetings and congratulations to all the performers, organizers and sponsors.
The show was emceed with grace and verve by Malathi Nagabhirava and Juhitha Porika.
Siva Gaddamanugu warmly welcomed all and noted, “Our academy was started in the year 2006 with goals of promoting kuchipudi dance, Indian culture and to respect, understand and contribute to social causes through the means of dance. In the past, the academy has helped raise funds for Hanuman Mandir, Alpharetta; Sravani – an old age home inKakinada,India;GuruDattaTemplein Gangapur, Maharashtra and Govt. of AP – for HUDHUD Cyclone,Andhra Pradesh,India. Today’s recital is to raise funds for Aman Vedika, a chapter of Aman Biradari, which currently houses 400 children in four shelters inHyderabad. They are sheltering and educating 250 girls and 100 boys aged from 6 to 19 years. The founder/Director of the Academy, my wife Neelima Gaddamanugu and I humbly request all of you to visit Aman Vedika when you are inHyderabadand continue supporting this wonderful organization.”
He thanked the 75 enthusiastic students of the academy; some are as young as four years.
Deepa prajwalana (lighting the diya) ceremony was performed by Bhogaravu Pappu – well-read scholar, true multi-linguist – a master in Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and Marathi, and professionally working as a VP at EBIX RCS; Shobha Gaddamanugu – Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank Winston Salem, NC; Padma Nuthivana ;senior freelance journalist Mahadev Desai and Neelima Gaddamanugu.
The academy’s youngest students, from Tiny Bells section, confidently performed for the first time, a prayer dance to Lord Ganesh, Lord Siva, Goddess Saraswathi and Goddess Mahalakshami. This was a tribute to iconic Carnatic vocalist M.S.Subbulakshmi, the first musician ever to be awarded Bharat Ratna and earned wide applause. The Tiny Bells team also performed a second dance to ‘Devi andKrishna’ slokas, including the enchanting slokam ‘Kasturi Tilakam’. The youngest in this group, 5 years Aditi Sangam endeared herself to the audience and won resounding applause. The two other students who also shone out were: In Middle age group junior section – Akhila Konakanchi and in Senior group – Akhila Ballari and Meenu Reddy. The show was a breathtaking magical and exuberant extravaganza of 17 traditional classical dances with spiritual and devotional content;innovative,imaginative, and creative choreography of Neelima and renowned Kuchipudi Guru ,late Vempati Chinna Satyam; fetching vibrant colors, brilliant lighting, pulsating music; shimmering costumes, facial,ankle,waist and hair adornments, , youthful exuberance, extraordinary depth and range of Carnatic music which mesmerized the audience. The dances were joyfully performed by Academy’s talented and well-trained 75 students ranging in ages from four to twenty years. The captivating dances had lot of energy, precision, fast moves and formations and expressive nuanced facial gestures to convey a story or mood. Out of fifteen riveting dances, ten were choreographed by Neelima and five by the late Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. All the students put their heart and soul in showcasing their dancing talent and in their spirited effort to raise money for a very worthy cause. Lingastakam dance was choreographed by Neelima in a traditional format, whereas Subramanya Astakam and Annamacharya dances were in Kuchipudi fusion styles. The Hindustani Thillana in Kuchipudi style with 32 participants was a rare treat for the audience.
After the finale, the beaming Neelima came on stage with all her participating students and the packed to capacity audience rose on its feet and gave a standing ovation. Complimenting her students, Neelima said, “I am so proud of my 75 kids who gave a tremendous performance this evening. Their performance is tremendous because they did this in the span of 5 weeks in the middle of exams, chess tournaments, advance courses and hundred other things that are happening around them.”
“When you see groups of over 15 students performing one dance, learning and rehearsing during different schedules in their own pockets, and in a short period of time and then come here as one on the stage speaks volumes of their aptitude to learn, perform as a team and be fully committed to the noble cause.,” she added.
Neelima thanked all the sponsors, parents, well-wishers and volunteers for their unstinted cooperation and support in helping present the academy’s annual shows and raise funds for worthy causes.
“My heartfelt thanks to Srinivas Lavu & Bharat Maddineni from Delta Information Systems; Lakshmi Parimala & Sruthi Sangam from Native Trenz Boutique; Lakshmi & Radhakanth Swayampakula for the memento sponsorship; Praveen Bethi, Anjaih Chowdary Lavu–TANA Community services coordinator; Srinivas Nimmagadda –VenSai Technologies; Kiran Pasham – EIS Technologies; Satish Musuniri – Sri Krishna Vilas; Manasvi Reddy Gaddam - Dream Realty Group; Sriman and Neelima Jannu from Taste of India; Anika Kommareddy, Madhuri Vitta, Sri. Appa Rao Mantha fromBirmingham, AL. and several other anonymous sponsors. Donations were also received fromNorth Carolina, andCalifornia”.
She also thanked Sri. Sridhar Vakiti of Vakiti Creations for their videography, Sri. Venkat Chundi, Dr. GV Rao – for photography, Jogy – Divinity Audio Visuals, tireless volunteers Sunitha Chaparala; Aruna Anathanu, Ram Durvasula; Musician/Singer Shanthi Medicharla and Violinist Jassotha; Berkmar School Management along with Biyanka and Josh. Neelima also thanked her family – Roshani Dronamraju, husband Siva Gaddamanugu & Son Amsh Gaddamanugu for their continuous support, encouragement and patience.
Bala Reddy Indurti, Sandhya Bhagat, Anjaih Chowdary Lavu, Venkat Chundi, Radhakanth Swayampakula, Sunitha Chaparala, Malathi Nagabhairava presented trophies, prizes and certificates to students.