Mahathi Suri, A Blessed Dancer

~ G V Anna Rao

Guru Nihanthri Reddy is a young but outstanding teacher of Kuchipudi dance who has developed a well-trained corpus of students of excellent merit. Having learnt from stalwarts like Dr. Sobha Naidu and Vempati Ravi Shankar, she has proved to be capable of carrying on their legacy with distinction. All of just 24 years she has around 300 students, inclusive of online students from other countries. For one so young in a highly competitive field to carve a niche and earn plaudits for her dance school titled “Akshadha Dance & Music Academy” is no small achievement. 

Impeccable quality marks out her students displaying the painstaking work put in by a teacher who is not easily satisfied but wishes her students to reach the peaks of the classical artform they are learning. It is rare indeed to find a Guru who is so dedicated and involved. Being the mentor comes naturally to her and the senior students being not far from her age are very closely bonded and have immense confidence in their teacher. She commands both respect and affection equally. 

First Rangapravesham: The first Rangapravesham debut performance from her school conducted on Saturday at Ravindra Bharathi was of Mahathi Suri, a doctor in the making who is studying medicine at Gandhi Medical College. Mahathi has taken part in several group performances and has all the attributes of a fine artiste. She is blessed with elegance, grace and charming features. 

The orchestra was outstanding with the vocalist Swetha Prasad delivering a concert level performance adding lustre. The lighting and decor were tasteful forming a frame for the dancer to shine. Being a rangapravesham, the aharya was changed thrice with beautiful costumes so as to bring out different facets of colours to engage the audience who were delighted by their shimmering brilliance. Orange was the predominant hue of the first with other colours added to give a rainbow look. Then a delicate creamy white silk with red border followed by green and pink. Opening the program were the usual melliflous notes of “Vani Paraku ” the traditional Kuchipudi anthem. 

Statuesque Poses: Mahathi came onto to the stage with the auspicious prayer to Ganesha – “Pranamamyaham” which gave scope for a series of statuesque poses done to perfection as the God who is the son of Devi was depicted. Her hasthabhinaya showed his Serpent Ornaments and the Modaka held in his hands. Mahathi instantly captured attention which never faltered throughout such was her dazzling solo premiere. She covered the stage with aplomb similar to a veteran dancer. Nritta was impeccable as abhinaya also kept pace while sketching out the God’s attire and ornaments and the blessings sought from him to remove obstacles. 

In “Alokaye” Krishna was radiantly portrayed with his golden Anklets tinkling, stealing butter and dancing on the Snake Kaliya. He lifts the Mountain Govardhana and frees his devotees from wordly bonds. This episode was especially creatively done through an energetic choreographic sequence of Krishna slowly lifting the mountain with divine strength. A virtuoso display of plate dance done with dextrous ease completed the item. 

Apt Expressions: Mahathi was a winsomely proud Satyabhama in an excerpt from the Krishna Parijatham ballet. Abhinaya was predominant in the javali “Apaduruku” where the heroine is subjected to scandal because of her fickle behaviour. She dislikes the rumors spread and tries to explain her actions. Mahathi gave a mature polish to this item as her expressions were apt in showing her displeasure and pain at the situation the nayika was placed in.”Akhilandeshwari” by Dikshitar is a distinguished item of great devotional significance embedded with multiple layers of esoteric meaning. The giver of divine knowledge is extolled in successive magnificent stanzas as adept in agamas, pervading the world, repository of arts, pure and full of grace. The dancer was successful in her completion of this exceptional piece which is difficult to essay. 

Thillana was in kadanakuthuhalam where Mahathi was applauded in her vigorous, brisk and sprightly movements displaying her stamina which had not flagged throughout such a long performance. Mangalam ” Ksheerabdi ” composed by Annamacharya was the last exceedingly melodious to hear and entrancing to watch lyrical concluding piece. 

Nattuvangam by Nihanthri was a delight to hear as her crisp enunciation was silvery and lucid with every syllable of the jathis crystal clear.

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