Lifestyle Books and Art 16 Sep 2017 Shaping society with ...

Shaping society with poise, posture and presentation

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NARAYANA VISHWANATH
Published Sep 16, 2017, 1:16 am IST
Updated Sep 16, 2017, 1:17 am IST
With high academic qualifications including a masters in the performing arts (Kuchipudi), she has several awards and titles to her credit.
Swathi Somanath
 Swathi Somanath

The guru sishya parampara is almost destroyed in India, not in classical dance alone, but also in other areas.  The onslaught of television and internet is the main cause. Nowadays, students record the item and practise at home, says leading Kuchipudi dancer Swathi Somanath of Andhra Pradesh, founder director of the dance institution Nritya Bharathi in Hyderabad.

With high academic qualifications including a masters in the performing arts (Kuchipudi), she has several awards and titles to her credit. She has received the best Kuchipudi dancer award from the former Vice-President of India, the late Sri Krishna Kant and Nritya Kaushal award conferred upon her by M. Chenna Reddy, former Governor of Tamil Nadu. 

 

Her uniqueness in presentation: I do not believe in separating art from the artiste. The presentation should reflect the artiste's feelings and emotions. I focus on exclusive imagery, movements, and lighting effects. Recently, my revolutionary ballet, ‘Hindutva, revealing the conflict between Sanathana dharma and Hinduism and how it is an appendage to Christianity, gave me an opportunity to address issues which the society is facing.

She is emphatic: I can definitely proclaim that Draupadi, Kamasutra  and Hindutva are reflections of my attitude towards contemporary society. These are my fundamental reactions to certain situations and reflect my character and temperament.

 

Her dance ballet Kamasutra, based on Vatsayana's epic, though critiqued by many orthodox dancers for the alleged depiction of sringara on stage, won the appreciation of rasikas.

Landmark performances abroad: I have performed in several countries (more than 20) on invitations from institutions abroad and the ICCR.  The presentation I cherish the most is the one at the prime ministers summit of India, Brazil and South Africa meet.

Her unforgettable choreography: I have choreographed more than 100 solo dance items and several Kuchipudi dance and dramas, including Sharanam Govindam and Soundarya darshana on the life of Sree Ramanuja. My presentation Sarvagnya Shankara was based on the life of Adi Shankara, proving the tenets of sanatana dharma  satsange nissangathvam, that with the right company one can achieve anything in life. However, my best performance-oriented ballet is Draupadi beginning from the swayamvara and ending with mahaprasthanam.

 

I am a member of the Central Audition Board for Kuchipudi dance, New Delhi, and earlier, was a member of the National Film Censor Board, and several film award committees.  I have also been serving as the principal, College of Music and Dance at Hyderabad.

Plan on restoring tradition: I am constructing a farmhouse at my father's village at Dusi on two acres. I have built a beautiful dance hall in sylvan surroundings to retain archival cultural references so that the right mode of gurukulam training is imparted free of charge.  This will be my sincere tribute to Kuchipudi.

 

(The writer is a well known music critic who has won awards both in India and abroad for propagation of classical arts and music)

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