Kuchipudi dancer Visalakshi Potukuchi, daughter of Atchyutaman and Jayanth Potukuchi, currently pursuing first year medicine from Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, confesses that she is attracted to anything that has rhythm and healing. “This explains why I am into dance as passion and medicine as career. I am a volunteer of ‘Art of Living’ and enjoy yoga, meditation and Seva programmes,” says the 19-year-old dancer.
Visalakshi says that since she was a child it was her dream to take medicine as a career. “I try to maintain a good schedule so that I can use most of the time productively. I set a target and try not to have long hours and complete my target and alternate my work with passion which is dance. Moreover, studying dance helps me gain confidence, critical thinking, self-discipline, physical health, and the ability to work collaboratively—all beneficial in the 21st century career path and quality of life,” says the young Kuchipudi artist.
On her entry into the field of dance, the young medico student admits that dance was a passion from an early age. “Listening to the beats of a dance number and not necessarily Kuchipudi but any moments of rhythm gave me immense happiness. My mom recognized this early and at the age of seven enrolled me as a disciple under Guru Renuka Uday Garu, renowned Kuchipudi exponent,” she says and adds that after learning the basics, she enrolled with Muvva Nirtya Raaga Nigamam to pursue learning with Guru Dr. Himabindu Kanoj. “I have been learning with Dr. Himabindu ma’am for the last seven years and Guru Gangadhar Garu for the last three years,” she says.
Speaking highly about her gurus, Visalakshi says she is fortunate to be a disciple of Gurus like Natya Visharadha Renuka Uday Garu, direct disciple of Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam Garu, who helped her with sound basics in Kuchipudi dance, Dr. Himabindu Kanoj Garu for her endless patience, encouragement, and belief in her. “I thank my teachers for always pushing me to do our best and for inspiring to reach full potential as dancers. They have been an invaluable part of my journey and I am so grateful for their guidance and support,” says the youngster. Visalakshi learnt “Laya Exercises” under AMS method and that’s how she came in association with the legendary Akella Mallikarjuna Sharma Garu.
Visalakshi has been a part of multiple dance performances of Muvva Troupe in prestigious venues and programmes – Srujala Sravanthi, Chidarambaram Natarajar Temple/ Hyderabad Shilparamam/Konark in 2017-2019; India International Dance Festival, Bangalore, 2016; Naada Neerajanam conducted by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, 2016; World Cultural Festival, Art of Living foundation – Kuchipudi Dance, New Delhi, 2016; India International Dance Festival (IIDF), Bhubaneswar, Celebrating Sankaracharya Jayanthi Utsav under the blessings of HH Jagadguru Sankaracharya Swamigal, Kanchi Peetham, in Mukkamala, Andhra Pradesh; among many others.
Sharing her views on whether it was essential to pursue dance under the Guru-Shishya Parampara, Visalakshmi affirms it. “I strongly believe that Guru – Sishya Parampara is very essential to pursue education in dance for performing on stage and that too for classical dance forms like Kuchipudi or Bharatanatyam. The learning process under a guidance of Guru plays a significant role in the overall grooming and continuing the dance journey for years together. Only when one goes through the flame of learning can knowledge be acquired as the dancers need to sustain their interest and passion for Indian classical dance and could pursue it further,” she says.
When queried if it wasn’t learning Kuchipudi, what other art form she would have learnt, she says that this never occurred to her. “I have never thought about it actually as I was initiated into Kuchipudi at an early age and no regrets whatsoever after that. I still do YouTube shots in filmi songs as well. More for fun and relaxation,” says the teenager.
Visalakshi says she began learning Guitar as a hobby and got some brownies during her campus lifestyle. Currently pursuing “Level 2 at Trinity College London Acoustic Guitar, the Kuchipudi dancer plans to complete her certification in Guitar under Guru Rajesh, Rock Studio.
The dancer, who is clear in her head, sharing her future plans says: “I have short and stretch goals as I believe in the power of compounding. My immediate goals are Distinction in MBBS and clear my USMLE exams for post-graduation in medicine. Also, appear and clear Diploma in Kuchipudi Dance and further my education in Kuchipudi dance and continue honing the dance skills and manage to perform in prestigious dance festivals,” says Visalakshi.