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BY GIRISH MODI
Smt. Bala Kondala Rao’s name may not be very famous in North India and in Bollywood, but she is one of the greatest exponents of Kuchipudi Dance. She is a disciple of Padmabhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam who has trained famous dancers/actresses like Hema Malini and Vyjanthimala in the past.
Her colleagues, disciples and fans lovingly call Smt. Bala Kondala Rao Bala Akka. She was accompanied by her dancer son Aditya Bulli Brahaman and daughter-in-law Konduparthi Malyada and Akhila Takkallapalli (a student of our Atlanta teacher and performer, Sasikala Penumarthi). Three of them performed several dance items from solos and ballets depicting Lord Krishna, Radha and Gopi. Balla Akka choreographed the entire show.
No dance performance is complete unless able singers and musicians accompany it, especially an Mridangam player who can match every Taal and laya with the footwork of performers. Anand Srihari (Bala Akka’s older Son and Malyada’s Husband) is such an able Mridangist who added extra flair to the dance performances. Bala Akka was conducting the Orchestra on the Nattuvangam and was joined by our Atlanta Artists Jayashree on Vocal, Ramesh on Violin. All the dancers along with singers and instrumentalists gave an excellent performance, which will reverberate in my mind for many years to come.
The Master of Ceremonies of the show Smt. Sasikala Penumarthi, who herself is an excellent dancer and runs the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance in Atlanta, introduced the artists at the beginning and presented a bouquet of flowers to each artist as well as a sari to the main singer / teacher Smt. Balla Akka at the end. Two priests showered blessings on the Artists at the end of the program.