Display of wisdom through Kuchipudi

Artistic maturity isn’t an aspect often bound by age, but it’s a rather accepted notion that real-life experiences go a long way in enriching a dancer’s understanding of sahitya in the form one chooses. The 14-year-old Rajahmundry-based Kuchipudi dancer Hari Priya Pranesh proved one could be wiser beyond their years in channelising their innermost layers of emotion and devotion in a recent performance organised at Bhageerathi Gana Sabha in Hyderabad. Making the most of her abhinaya and dazzling nritta, the brief performance showed the vulnerability and sensitivity an artiste ought to have to reach the hearts of the audiences. Not a soul in the mini hall was left unmoved by her four-piece act on a weekend morning.

The disciple of Chinta Ravi Balakrishna opened her performance with the Ganesha stuti in Vasantha ragam, written by Dandibhotla Vaikunta Narayana Murthy. Sans any element of exaggeration, while also not losing the essence of the bhakti rasa, Hari Priya made good use of the number’s rich descriptions to portray the salient features of the elephant-headed God. The key element behind the strong impact of the performance was her ability to make the piece her own with a deep sense of involvement.

Shifting between the roles of Yashoda and Krishna through Krishna Nee Begane, Hari Priya effortlessly portrayed the selflessness of motherhood, where she efficiently used the stage space to explore a series of swift yet delicate movements. She set the tone for the piece with a sloka from the Sri Krishna Karnamritam and took the piece forward with expressive body language, bringing to life the anxiety of the protagonist to find the apple of her eye. Hari Priya’s hint of exaggeration was visible and yet effective in her portrayal of Yashoda while her depiction of Krishna was more instinctive and free-flowing.

Offering a riveting twist to Narayana Theertha’s Jaya Jaya Durge in Shanmukhapriya ragam, it was only natural that the outpour of divinity and rhythm in the vocals gave more impetus to Hari Priya’s performance. The metaphoric comparisons of the various features of Goddess Durga with the motifs of nature brought out Hari Priya’s pleasing sanchari-bhava. The piece also included the customary brass plate-dance, which she had performed with greater joy. She gave the climactic segment of the tarangam a definitive flourish while highlighting the ferociousness of the Goddess.

A Namdev abhang, Bhakta Jana Vatsale, was her final item and one that had the crowd in raptures for the sheer spiritual joy it provided. There was a sense of liberation in her performance owing to the fast-paced nature of the composition. The lack of inhibition certainly helped her in expressing the sincere devotion of the poet with alacrity, especially while ending the item with repeated chants of ‘Panduranga’ that the audiences enthusiastically clapped to. The lokadharmi aspect in her recital brought a larger appeal to the event and one was surely left wanting for more.

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