Satwika Penna, who performs Andhra Natyam and Perini Natyam, the two temple dancer forms with equal ease, recently performed Perini at Taramati Baradari and will be performing Andhra Natyam at the Second Feet on Earth Dharani Festival being held at Bansilalpet Stepwell on Sunday 26 November 2023. Speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, on dancing at Heritage sites, Satwika Penna, says: “At Taramati, it was a group presentation of Perini Natyam, while at Bansilalpet Stepwell, I will be giving a solo performance of Andhra Natyam. It feels absolutely great being a part of these events happening at the heritage sites as they hold so much of our history, art and culture and they represent the distinctiveness of that particular region.” The dancer states that Andhra Natyam and Perini have been associated with rich identity and preservation of age-old traditional practice which can be drawn as a historical parallel to these heritage sites.
Sharing her dancing experience at Taramati, Satwika says: “We performed Perini Natyam to a varied audience – few of them knew the differences in the styles of dances being presented there, few of them were intrigued to know more about how Perini was being reconstructed for women,” she says and adds that some of them were for the first-time witnessing Perini being performed by women. “Many have watched men centric Tandavam until then and conveyed appreciation to me and our group on our presentation,” the dancer says.
On her upcoming performance at Bansilalpet Stepwell, the “B- Grade” artiste from Doordarshan Kendra, Satwika confesses that she has never had a chance to visit Bansilalpet Stepwell, and this is going to be an experience in itself for her. “I will be presenting few excerpts from the repertoire of Andhra Natyam. I have planned the performance which includes the three techniques- Agama (temple ritual), Asthana (court dances) and Prabandham (Navajanardana parijatham) of Andhra Natyam,” she says.
On the personal front, Satwika got married in April 2022 and while a lot has changed around her, she has been fortunate enough to step into a family where performing arts are looked at with a lot of reverence and respect. “Being a Kuchipudi dancer herself, my mother-in-law encourages me to explore dancing beyond the styles I’m currently practicing,” she says. The dancer says that she has had the opportunity to perform at several noted events and gatherings. “I have performed at events, such as the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav by Telangana Govt., G20 summit, Natyaparampara Utsav in Bangalore, Kanchi and Tirupathi Brahmotsavas, ISRO Telugu community event, etc to name a few,” Satwika says.
Daughter of Late Lasyabhinayam exponent, Dr. Suvarchala Suresh, Satwika is the first artiste in Andhra Natyam to be selected as the recipient of “Young Artiste Award” by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. The dancer is pursuing Ph. D from University Of Hyderabad, and masterly juggles between her own dance practice and academic work.