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Vempadappa Lakshmi – Growing out of struggle with dance

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Lakshmi Vempadappa

Vempadappa Lakshmi grew up facing societal discrimination and witnessing her parents’ struggles as domestic workers, when she was picked up by Kuchipudi Guru Sandhya Raju, and trained to be a classical dancer. Today, she is a talented dancer and dance Guru

Vempadappa Lakshmi – Gallery

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The event was Swathantra Pravesham, a momentous occasion introduced by the Nishrinkala Dance Academy, signifying a significant milestone in the world of classical dance. In contrast to the traditional Rangapravesham, this ceremony commemorates the moment when a seasoned and mature student emerges from the guidance of their Guru to establish themselves as financially independent and creative artists in the realm of Kuchipudi. With the Guru’s blessings, these students are encouraged to explore performances, choreography, teaching, innovation, and artistic individuality, all while maintaining a strong bond with their Guru, peers, and the institute.

At this particular Swathantra Pravesham event, the talented Kuchipudi dancer Vempadappa Lakshmi, a student of Guru Sandhya Raju, was the center of attention. The ceremony took place in the presence of esteemed guests, including Dr. Suchitra Ella, a Padma Bhushan Awardee and Co-Founder of Bharat Biotech, and Leela Samson, a renowned Bharatanatyam exponent and Padma Shri Awardee. Other notable guests included Nirmala Raja, Chair of Arsha Vidya Mandir and Director of Ramco CSR, Dr. Anuradha Tadakamalla (Jonnalagadda), a Kuchipudi exponent and HOD at the University of Hyderabad, Jhansi, a television presenter and actress, and a Nandi Award winner.

Lakshmi’s journey to this moment was not an easy one. She grew up facing societal discrimination and witnessed her parents’ struggles as domestic workers. However, her exceptional talent was discovered by Guru Sandhya Raju among 150 applicants in 2009, earning her a scholarship with the prestigious Nishrinkala Dance Academy. Despite facing challenges, including juggling school, beautician courses, and a long 5 km walk to dance class, Lakshmi’s unwavering determination set her apart and allowed her to blossom into a remarkable performer. Today, she not only contributes as a freelance dancer and full-time teacher at Nishrinkala but also extends her expertise to international students through online classes.

But Lakshmi’s story goes beyond her achievements as a dancer. Her inner beauty shines through in her selfless dedication to teaching Kuchipudi to underprivileged children in her neighborhood. Her inspiring journey serves as a powerful reminder of the value of persistence, following one’s passion, and giving back to the community.

Guru Sandhya Raju, a National award winner and renowned for her movie NATYAM, has always harbored a dream of taking classical dance, especially Kuchipudi, all over the country, with a focus on Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. She aims to encourage artists and support them endlessly through scholarships and other means.

The Swathantra Pravesham event celebrated not only Lakshmi’s accomplishments but also showcased the vision of the Nishrinkala Dance Academy. The Academy aims to push the boundaries of Kuchipudi by creating relevant presentations for contemporary audiences while preserving the traditional syllabus, choreography, and artistic style of the legendary Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam Garu. Additionally, the Academy offers free scholarships to aspiring dancers, positioning itself as a beacon of excellence in the art of Kuchipudi, nurturing and training young talents like Lakshmi.

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