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Nataraja Natyanjali Dance Academy Enthralls Audiences With Two Kuchipudi Recitals


Alpharetta based Nataraja Natyanjali Dance Academy treated Indian classical dance lovers in Atlanta to two back to back Kuchipudi Rangapraveshams. Under the tutelage of Guru Neelima Gaddamanugu, students of the Academy, Meenu Reddy and Geetika Jape performed their Rangapraveshams at North Atlanta High School and at West Forsyth High School on August 13 and August 20 respectively.

The Sanskrit word ‘Rangapravesham’, literally means Stage (‘Ranga’) Entry (Pravesham’) when split into two words. The occasion marks the transformation of a student into an artiste when he or she is presented on stage for the first time as a solo performer. This journey from a student of dance, to being presented at their Rangapravesham requires years of dedicated practice, learning and commitment.

It is interesting to note that two students from the same Guru accomplished Rangapraveshams within a span of one week, a first in Atlanta. Despite being the youngest Indian classical dance Guru in Atlanta, Neelima Gaddamanugu managed the task with ease and perfection.

Deepa Prajwalana (Lamp lighting) by Guest of Honor Narendar Reddy marked the start of Meenu Reddy's rangapravesam. The first dance, Ganesha Kautvam, a customary prayer item on Lord Ganesha was followed by Kuchipudi signature item Bhama Kalapam, which Meenu performed with elegance and ease. A thrilling Siva Tandava Stotram (written by Ravana Brahma describing Lord Siva's Beauty, Power and Dance) followed. In the next performance Kanjadalaayadaakshi a famous Devi Stuti written by Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar, Meenu depicted the graceful Goddess beautifully. In Mukhari ragam and Adi talam, Meenu presented Narayanatheertha's famous Krishna Tarangam – Krishnam Kalayasakhi with grace and amazing expressions. The performance ended with Thillana displaying various “Paada bhedas” and demonstrated the "nritta" aspect of the classical performance. Chief guest Dr. M. JaganMohan Rao felicitated the orchestra, Guru Neelima Gaddamanugu and Meenu Reddy on the occasion. He congratulated Meenu Reddy for a splendid performance. An enthusiastic crowd of over 450 applauded and enjoyed the program. Pavani and Prabhakar Putta thanked the audience for their blessings.

Siva Gaddamanugu welcomed the audience to Geetika's Rangapravesam. Guest of honor Subhash Razdan and Chief Guest Ravi Ponangi kicked off the program with Deepa Prajwalana. The first performance of the evening, Ganesha Sloka, was followed by Siva Stuti where Geetika portrayed the fierceness and masculinity of Lord Siva. She followed this with a sweet depiction of Muddugare Yashoda, an Annamacharya Keertana where she showed various expressions comparing Bala Krishna as a lovely toddler with amazing powers reminding audience on Lord Sri Krishna’s birthday the following day. Next piece, Mahishasura Mardhini composed by Jagadguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya had Geetika showing various expressions depicting Goddess Sri Chandi. Sri Dharmapuri Subbarayar's Javali received special applause for the dancer's portrayal of Sringara (romantic) rasa. She followed this with a mesmerizing rendition of Tarangam (traditional dance style performed on a brass plate) with ease. The program concluded with rhythmic Thillana in Kunthalavarali ragam.

Chief Guest Ravi Ponangi felicitated the orchestra along with Guru Neelima Gaddamanugu and Geetika Jape. Ravi Ponangi and Subhash Razdan congratulated Guru Neelima and Geetika Jape for preserving and continuing the ancient Indian classical dance tradition. Parents of Geetika, Tanuja and Vivek Jape thanked the capacity crowd of 650 audiences.

Both programs were competently supported by Kumari Jagati Vempaty as main vocalist, Smt. Prasuna Vempati as supporting vocalist, Santosh Chandru on Mrudangam and V.R. Dileep on Violin.
Neelima Gaddamanugu started her Kuchipudi journey at the age of four under the guidance of Guru Smt. Mythili Prabhakar, a senior student of Guru Sri Bhagavathula Ramakotayya. She also trained under Guru Sri Dandhibotla Narayana Murthy who is a senior student of Guru Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam Garu. Neelima is critically acclaimed as a young choreographer for her dance compositions, particularly for Mahishasura Mardhini Stotram, Asta Lakshmi Stotram, several Annamayya Kruthi’s (Alarulu Kuriyaga, Yemuko Chiguruta Adharamuna, Adigo Alladigo, Vedukundama Venkatagiri, Tandanana Hare) and Javalis. Her commitment to Kuchipudi dance has been evident both from her active participation in dance seminars and organization of dance festivals in Andhra Pradesh. In addition, she took upon fund raising responsibilities and performed for numerous social, charitable and religious causes. She also learnt Carnatic Vocal from Guru Smt. Sita Mahalakshmi for six years and Veena from Guru Sri Buchibabu for four years.

Neelima started teaching since age 12. She has been teaching Kuchipudi since 2003 in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Her passion and commitment to this art form motivated her to form Alpharetta based Nataraja Natyanjali Dance Academy with a goal to further popularize Kuchipudi dance through teaching and continuing the tradition. With over 60 students, the Academy has contributed to various social, religious & cultural causes through dance performances.

Natya Guru Neelima Gaddamanugu, Vivek Jape, Tanuja, guest of honor Subash Razdan and chief guest Ravi Ponangi of India tribune.

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