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Kuchipudi Rangapravesam: Amoolya Narayanan

Veena Pillai

Amoolya Narayanan, disciple of Guru Smt. Sumithira Anand, performed her Kuchipudi Rangapravesam, on June 27, at the South Windsor High School Auditorium, South Windsor, CT. She is the daughter of Dr. Kumar Venkitanarayanan (Uconn) and Mrs. Uma Iyer. Amoolya had her initial training from Smt. Padmavathy Reddy. As a dedicated student, Amoolya studied classical dance for more than seven years. In the last year, she began to prepare for her Rangapravesam under the tutelage of Smt. Sumithira Anand.

Amoolya’s beautiful facial expression, graceful hand gestures, eye movements, attractive stage presence, and pure ecstasy for dance made the dance debut an indulgence to watch. Her poised and elegant presentation was a tribute to all the hard work she had put into the performance.  

The Rangapravesam commenced with an invocatory song by the talented musicians and a pair of cymbals (nattuvangam) to bless the performance, which filled the auditorium with an auspicious atmosphere. Amoolya began her performance with Vinayaka Kowthavam in praise of Lord Ganesha followed by Jathiswaram, a pure dance item in Kuchipudi to exhibit technique. The next item in the presentation was Dasavatharam. Here the dancer portrayed the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu – Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (wild boar), Narasimha (half man half lion), Vamana, Parashurama, Lord Rama, Balarama, Buddha, and Kalki who has yet to appear in our lives to rid the world of evil.

As a tribute to Lord Shiva, Amoolya then performed the popular Bo Shambo Kriti, representing Lord Shiva’s cosmic and mystic dance of rhythm and energy. This piece is a mix of expressive dance (abinaya), pure dance movements, followed by intricate footwork. Amoolya was able to elicit the idea of complete surrender to the Lord.

The second half of the repertoire began with a folk item for a tamil song. The purity of the dance was within the precincts of Kuchipudi. This was set to Maand ragam and in Aadi thaalam. This was followed by Thillana--a dance symbolizing happiness, joy, ecstasy and mastery over the techniques. Amoolya danced with exuberant joy and complex rhythmic variations set to fast tempo music. She abandoned herself purely to the joys of rhythm and movement.

Amoolya immersed the audience by her beautiful expressions in Krishna leela in the most traditional item Tarangam. This dance marks the highlight of a traditional Kuchipudi recital. It depicts famous stories from Lord Krishna's childhood, and ends in a display of exquisite virtuosity as the dancer executes intricate rhythmic patterns by dancing on the rim of a brass plate while balancing a pot of water on the head and lights on hands. The recital concluded with a Mangalam at which the dancer offers a salutation to God, Guru, and the audience for their blessings.

The audience then gave her a rapturous applause and a standing ovation for her spectacular performance. Amoolya afterwards gave a speech thanking teachers, musicians, family members, friends, and everyone who had come to support her on that day. She enlightened her abiding passion for Kuchipudi and would continue her relentless devotion, dedication, and determination to this fine art.  Amoolya feels gratified and thanks her Guru Smt. Sumithira Anand for refining her skills and leading her to this milestone.

The traditional orchestra added beauty by its perfect tone and thalams. The live orchestra consisted of the vocalist Smt. Sangeeta Shroff, on the Natuvangam was Guru Smt. Sumithira Anand, supported on the Mridangam by Sri.Gaurishankar Chandrashekhar, and on the Violin Sri Surya Sundararajan. Each one of these artists performed excellent professional performances. The instrumental interludes performed by these artists were greatly appreciated by the audience. Smt. Sumita Anand has skillfully created the choreography while maintaining the traditional purity and Amoolya implemented the dance beautifully. Amoolya has also studied other classical dances and her talent in dance has earned her many prizes in Connecticut and in New England.

This performance was the result of a fellowship received from Southern New England Arts apprenticeship program by both Smt. Sumithra and Amoolya. This program is supported by National Endowment of Arts, the Institute of Community Research, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and Massachusetts Cultural Council. “Amoolya is the third fellowship recipient from Connecticut since the beginning in 1997 of this apprenticeship program,” said Ms. Lynne Williamson, the Director of the Institute of Community Research.

This dance performance was dedicated to raising education fund for the CT Tamil Sangam. This education fund is used to support eligible youth in India to get better education. A junior next year at Glastonbury High School, CT, Amoolya is an active member of Glastonbury High School Orchestra, Robotics Team, Math Club, Key Club and India Club. She is interested in doing research work in science and this year, she won first place at the Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and second place at the Connecticut State Science Fair. She participated for the National Science and Humanities Symposium in Colorado Springs and also Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nevada. Amoolya is looking forward in continuing her goals in academic research as well as maintain her talent in dancing and during her free time she enjoys playing tennis and basket ball. Amoolya has distinguished herself as a dedicated and talented young person. We would like to see more of her performances in the future and wish her every success in her future endeavors.

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