Pasumarti Natya Vaibhavam was indeed a celebration of Kuchipudi dance with three ballets showcasing beautiful choreography, dazzling performances, rich costumes, brilliance in poetry and music
Pasumarti Ramalinga Sastry spearheaded the three-day dance ballets. Gloomy skies and torrential rain did not deter the motley group gathered to witness the exceedingly beautiful tribute paid to Kuchipudi Guru and recipient of the Sangeeta Natak Academy award, Pasumarti Ramalinga Sastry, which was spread over three consecutive evenings at the Telugu University auditorium in Hyderabad. I had planned to see just one of the dance ballets, “Gajananeeyam” which was being performed after decades but after watching it I couldn’t stop myself from returning to witness the remaining two ballets.
As the invocation to the goddess Sharada was completed each evening after which the ballet began, I was riveted to the stage lost in the beauty of the beautifully written, choreographed and staged ballets that were dripping with beauty and the essence of the Kuchipudi tradition. Pasumarti Ramalinga Sastry who hails from a traditional family in the Kuchipudi village trained under legendary gurus Vedantam Parvateesam and PVG Krishna Sarma and caught the attention of Bharatanatyam legend Rukmini Arundale, who took him to Kalakshetra where he was exposed to the Bharatanatyam style. Students had thoughtfully placed the photographs of his gurus including that of Ms. Rukmini Arundale on the stage where they stood out as a fitting tribute to all styles of classical dance that have their own uniqueness.
Gajananeeyam which traces the origin and greatness of Ganesha and unfolds the story of Ganesha becoming the Lord of the ganas was beautifully executed taking the audience to an exalted state wherein the Sangita, sahitya, abhinaya and above all the exceptional choreography and lighting in the right measure made it a memorable performance. The scene where Parvati creates Ganesha from the turmeric applied to her body and endows him with life touched a chord as the lights went off for a second to reveal a little boy seated at his mother’s feet when they come on.
Sri Rama Katha Saram staged on day two, saw energetic audiences cheering all the way as Rama’s endearing story had them soaked in devotional fervour and they responded to every scene and every little nuance with unconcealed admiration. The scene where the monkey brigade builds the Ramasethu bridge was choreographed to perfection as the “Vanaras” (monkeys) danced with raw energy, their tails twirling in unison and they executed foot moments in rhythmic intervals eliciting loud cheering, whistles and clapping.
I was also mesmerised by the dance of Ravana’s Sister Shurpanaka who smitten by Rama tries to win him over and the scene where Ravana abducts Sita wherein the dancing movements of Sita and Ravana give us the illusion of the earth beneath them moving.
Tripadi Ganga traces Ganga’s origin from Vishnu’s feet and the story of her descent onto earth because of the penance of Bhagiratha who wanted to liberate his forefathers who were cursed and said to attain moksha only after their sins were washed away by her pure waters.
The ballet flowed like the divine river taking in its sweep audiences experiencing myriad emotions with every scene. The well scripted ballets, the first one by D.N.V Murthy and two others by Bnim, powerful singing by DSV Sastry and Padma Ramalinga Sastry and flawless choreography by Pasumarti Ramalinga Sastry made the tribute by Pasumarti students an outstanding display of devotion to the guru and the art. One needs more of these performances to create awareness among the younger generation about our glorious dance traditions that will wilt if they do not receive the encouragement they rightfully deserve.