Nrityaantaranga 21 – Vilasini Natyam by Purva Dhanashree
Puttur: Nrityaantaranga, a monthly dance series hosted by Sri Mookambika Cultural Academy (R.), Puttur observed its 21st series by a unique performance – Vilasini Natyam by Smt.Purva Dhanashree of Hyderabad. The event was conducted in Shashi Shankara Hall in the premises of the Academy. Vilasini Natyam is a traditional Devadasi dance form of Andra Pradesh and Telangana. This form was not much popular until legendary dancer Smt. Swapna Sundari practiced it and made it quite popular. Now her disciple, Purva Dhanashree is striving hard in popularizing this art form. So to the west coast, i.e., Karavali or Tulunadu, it is totally an unknown form even for most of the dancers themselves.
Sri Mookambika cultural Academy made an attempt to organize this rare performance with the support of Nrityaangan(R.) of Mangaluru. Smt Radhika Shetty, the artistic director of Nrtiyaangan was the honorary guest of the evening and inaugurated the event by lighting the lamp. Vidwan Deepak Kumar, director of Sri Mookambika Cultural Academy conducted the event. Vidushi Preethi Kala, Vidwan Girish Kumar, Bhavani Shankar and Smt.Shashi Prabha who were trustees were present. Prof.V.B.Arthikaje honoured the artiste and gue
Vilasini Natyam is a classical performing tradition practiced by the Telugu hereditary female dancer-singers who were attached to temples and royal courts. Apart from being a distinctive style, Vilasini Natyam retains the functional classification of the art, i.e. the ritual-specific (Gudi Seva), ceremonial-specific (Kacheri Ata) and dance operatic (Ata Bhagavatam). These have been suitably adapted for modern-day stage presentation by Padmabhushan Swapnasundari who learnt this performing art directly from several direct descendants of the tradition. Her dedicated efforts to sustain and further it are reaping rich results both through own performances as well as those of the dancers she is training.
A significant move undertaken for the first time in the country’s post-independence era has been the reintegration of ancient temple dances in Vilasini Natyam with religious rituals conducted during the Brahmotsavam of the 400 year old Ranganathswamy temple in Rangbagh, Hyderabad. This continues as an annual feature.
Critics and connoisseurs consider Purvadhanashree as one of the outstanding classical dancers of the younger generation. From 2000 to 2014 she learnt Vilasini Natyam under Padmabhushan Guru Swapnasundari. Sahitya Kala Parishad, Delhi selected Purva under the Young Talent Scholarship in the year 2002.
For the achievement in the field of Vilasini Natyam, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi awarded Purvadhanashree the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in 2008. She is an empanelled artiste of SPIC MACAY and has been regularly conducting workshops and Lecture demonstrations across the country. In 2015 Bhanja Kala Mandap, Bhubaneshwar honoured Purva with the Jayadev Puraskar.
Purvadhanashree is also “TOP grade ” Bharatanatyam artiste of Doordarshan. Born and brought up in New Delhi, her mastering of technique and depth of ‘Abhinaya’ have earned her the privilege of performing on the inaugural day of the December Festival 2000 at the Music Academy, Chennai. She was judged the best dancer at the Spirit of Youth concerts 1999 and was conferred the prestigious Dr. MGR Award. Since then she had performed in several prestigious festivals in India and abroad.
Some of the Major Vilasini Natyam performances:
– Nrityotsava, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Raipur, 2016
– Nritya Parva , Organized by Anjali Memorial Cmmittee and Faculty of Performing Arts, Baroda, February, 2016
– Concert Series of Kalashakti Mandapam, Kollam, Kerala, January, 2016
– Habitat Concert series, December 2015
– A tribute to Rabindranath Tagore, October , 2015
– Jayadev Samaroh, Bhubaneshwar, 2015
– Horizon series, organized by ICCR Hyderabad, January, 2015
– Umang series, organized by NCPA, Mumbai, December 2014
– Heritage Festival, Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi, Chandigarh, 2014
– Incredible India concert series, organized by Ministry of Tourism, New Delhi 2014
– Global Heritage Series, Ganesh Natyalaya, New Delhi 2014
– Mudra Festival, Trivandrum, 2013, 2007
– Natyanjali Festival, Kumbakonam and Chidambaram, 2012
– ‘Shivanjali’, 2 day dance festival organized by ‘Suswara’ , Chennai, 2012
– ‘ Unbound beats of India’, festival of Dance , Utsav Academy of Dance, Delhi, 2011
– Youth Festival, Music Academy, Chennai, 2010
– Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Kalaikoodam, (Smt. Komala Vardan’s organization) , 2009
– Khajuraho Dance festival, 2008 – Purvadhanashree was the first dancer to perform Vilasini Natyam in the festival. She was also the youngest participant.
– Indradhanush’08 ( festival of young artistes), 2008 New Delhi
– Vilasini’07, Festival of Vilasini Natyam, Chennai, 2007
– Delhi International Arts Festival, 2007
– Ammavaru Brahmotsava Celebrations, TTD, 2007
– Vilasni’06, Festival of Vilasini Natyam , Delhi, 2006
“Having learnt from the master-craftsperson herself, Purvadhanashree, Swapnasundari’s senior disciple, reveled in the sensuous grace of Vilasini Natyam. Her piercing abhinaya style is much like her guru’s and draws in the rasika to be a part of the performance” – Rupa Srikanth, The Hindu
“The divinity of dance is the most predominant feature of Vilasini Natyam and this was amply exemplified by Purva in every piece that she chose to present… Purva undertook the elaborate jatis in steady ascending cycles with astonishing accuracy to beats. She glided through the most complex footwork ever seen with alacrity and acumen. The artiste got transformed form the dedicated temple dancer to the poised court dancer and immediately and her demeanour underwent a drastic change… so much for Purva’s histrionics”- Ranee Kumar, The Hindu
“Unlike the meditative intensity of Purva’s Bharatanatyam, her foray into Vilasini Natyam elicits a more effervescent joy, and movement fluidity different from the crisp linear profile of Bharatanatyam ……
“The dancer’s commitment came into full play in the varnam “Saami Vinara” in Bhairavi”- Leela Venkataraman, The Hindu
“When the young gifted dancer Purvadhanashree put up a scintillating evening of the lesser known Vilasini Natyam, it was immediately clear that the form is now in good hands and the concerted efforts of Guru Swapnasundari have finally came to fruition”- U.K. Baneerjee, The Pioneer
“She is a rare dancer in today’s world, committed to the universal Divine in all of us expressed through her dance. A Devadasi for our time!”- Sharon Lowen, Asian Age
Submitted by: Vidwan Deepak Kumar, director of Sri Mookambika Cultural Academy