Padmasree Sobha Naidu , the most outstanding exponents and unique promoter of Kuchipudi Dance
Padmasree Sobha Naidu, today is one of the most outstanding exponents of Kuchipudi Dance.Her greatness lies in her total dedication to the exacting genre with classical base. A fiercely un compromising purist, she is highly imaginative with a sense of deep involvement but without losing contact with contemporary taste and sensibilities. She has been Principal ofKuchipudi Art Academy at Hyderabad since 1980.It has the credit of producing 15 ballets and more than 80 solo items.
Her major achievements are the Choreography and Presentation of the BalletsVipranarayana, KalyanaSrinivasa m, Sri Krishna Saranam Mama, Vijayosthuthe Naari, Ksheera Saagara Madhanam, Sarvam Saimayam, Jagadaananda Kaaraka, Girija Kalyaanam , Swami Vivekananda and the latest Navarasa Natbamini in which she was the main protagonist and donned various roleslike Satyabhama,Chandalika,Devadevaki,Padmavathi,Mohini,Sai baba,Goddess Parvati and many more which won her great appreciation.
As an artist in the homeland she is currently conducting classical dance training program “Sadhana” on Sri Venkateswara Bhakthi Channel.(2008 till date).She was a presenter for the program “Siri Siri Muvv” on sanskruthi channel to promote budding artists showcase talent in the art form.Impressed with her performance as Padmavati in Kalyana Srinivasam,the Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam organized a series of programs all over India and also sponsored for the video recordings of a few ballets.
Her performances won accolades not only in the motherland but also all around the globe.Sobha has presented a series of performances at different venues in USA sponsored by the TANA.She represented India and performed in places like U.K, U.S.S.R, Syria ,Baghdad, Kampuchea, Turkey,Hong Kong,Bangkok.Sobha also led a cultural delegation on behalf of Govt of India, to West Indies,Mexico,Venezuela,Tunis,Cuba followed by a visit to West Asia.
As a Guru(teacher) she has trained more than 1500 students from India and abroad too.The academy recently celebrated its completion of 30 years in 2010.Most of her students are settled in India and abroad too and are propagating the art form by establishing learning centers in India and abroad.
She has been awarded the coveted title of “Nritya Choodamani” by no less an institution than Krishna Gana Sabha of Madras, followed by a prestigious award by Central Sangeeta Nataka Kala Academy in the year 1991.She is the recipient of “Nrityavihar” given by Sri Sringara Samsad of Bombay in 1991.In 1996 Nungambakkam Cultural Association, Madras awarded the title “Nritya Kala Siromani”. She has been given award by State Government of Andhra Pradesh, on the Birth Anniversary of Late Sri N.T. Rama Rao. Telugu University has honored her with Telugu University Puraskara Award.She has been given “Hamsa award” by State Government of Andhra Pradesh.
The Govt of India honoured her with prestigeous “Padmasree Award”. Wedded and dedicated to her art, she has rejected lucrative offers from the film industry with a feeling that art should be developed with its Pristine purity .
Kuchipudi Kuchipudi is the classical dance form from the South-East Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram, a small village about 65 kms from Vijaywada. For a long time, the art was presented only at temples and that too only for annual festivals of certain temples in Andhra Pradesh. According to tradition, Kuchipudi dance was originally performed only by men and they all belonged to the Brahmin community. These Brahmin families were known popularly as Bhagavathaluof Kuchipudi. The very first group of Brahmain Bhagavathulu of Kuchipudi was formed in 1502 AD. Their programs were offerings to the deities and they never allowed women in their groups.
In the 15th century, a saint called Siddhendra Yogi, codified the movements and enriched the repertoire of the Kuchipudi dance form. Siddhendra Yogi championed the cause of redefining this dance form aiming at eliminating exploitation of women. Kuchipudi was enriched by the advent of the female dancers. Renowned gurus like Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry, Chinta Krishnamurthy and Tadepalli Perayya, broadened the horizons of the dance form. The reforms brought in has led to the women playing the male parts in this dance form.
Each principal character introduces himself or herself on the stage with a daru. A daru is a small composition of dance and song specially designed for each character to help him or her reveal his or her identity and also to show the performer’s skill in the art. There are nearly 80 darus or dance sequences in the dance drama and are nowadays also extracted for solo performances .One of the most famous one being the Satyabhama daru. Behind a beautiful curtain held by two persons, Satyabhama enters the stage with her back to the audience and her braid hanging from the curtain.
Kuchipudi flourished as a dramatic form of dance for hundreds of years. It was held in high esteem by the rules of the Deccan. For instance Tana Shah in 1678 granted the lands around Kuchipudi to the Brahmins who performed the dance.At times the dancers could even wield political and social power. One example was a play-cum-social commentary performed in 1502. The History says that a group of artists performed before Narasimharayulu.. In this play, they indicated that the people were being unfairly treated by a local raja. The dancers succeeded in freeing the people form the abusive practices of the raja, but the artists at one point even required the protection of the army.
Kuchipudi has its own style which is very pleasant to watch and many of the songs are tuned to a special rhythm which is unique , enjoyable and provides the performer maximum scope for showcasing their talent. The Kuchipudi dancers are experts in Sattwika Abhinaya, BhavaAbhinaya. The charm of Kuchipudi lies in its fast and intricate footwork, sinuous grace, and the use of the eyes to express moods and feelings. The technique of Kuchipudi closely follows the tenets laid down in the ‘Natya Shastra ‘. Padmabhushan Dr Vempati Chinna satyam, being an architect of contemporary classical Kuchipudi dance form made unique contribution of refining the dance form without losing its classiocal effulgence.With his creative genius he brought a sea of changes in the execution of Nritta, Nritya and Natya.
Like many other art forms which had developed through ages, the art of Kuchipudi Dancing underwent many innovative changes. These innovations enriched and glorified the traditional art form which had `Natya` as its primary component.Thus enveloping within its form new techniques, it has greatly enriched itself. Yet all the while it has taken care to retain the essential features of traditional form.
Kuchupudi Art Academy
With the main objective of reviving and revitalizing the pride of Indians at large and Telugus in particular, in its pristine purity, Kuchipudi Art Academy was started at Hyderabad in the year 1980 over a built up area of 5000sft. It was a long felt need that this dance form should find an abode in the Capital of Telugus. Smt. Sobha Naidu, easily the greatest exponent of this dance form and whose name inspires and evokes the happiest responses to every one of her performances has been the Principal & Director of the Dance School. Within a short period, the Academy has come to be recognized as the premier Institution, in the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
In recognition of eminent services rendered by the Academy, the Government of India have sanctioned a recurring grant for running the Dance School and also upgraded the Academy as one of the premier Art Academies in the country. Since its inception more than 2000 students all over the world had their training in Kuchipudi Art Academy directly or indirectly and training is being imparted free of charge to those who are poor and talented. Smt. Sobha Naidu’s performance in U.S.S.R. on the occasion of Festival of India made Russian girls come all the way from Russia to learn Kuchipudi dance. Some of the students started institutions of their own in different countries and States. Besides Dance, Academy holds classes for Music and theory of Kuchipudi. A diploma of “Natya Visharada” is given to the trainee on completion of a dance course of three years. The aim of Academy is propagation of Kuchipudi dance.
Training is also imparted to the students to appear for the certificate and diploma examination. Academy has produced fifteen ballets to its credit for which Smt Sobha Naidu was appreciated for her versatile performances. In addition, more than 80 ‘Solo’ items are also produced. The academy has residential accommodation for students coming from outside the State and Country. Not only dance, training is also being provided in the fields of music and painting to the students. The academy has residential accommodation for students coming from outside the State and Country. Training is being imparted to students teaching music class.
Ballets in Kuchupudi
Sri Krishna Parijatham (DEVOTION DETHRONES DOMINANCE TO COVET LORD’S HEART) The theme of this ballet is taken from the tenth canto of Bhagavatha. Satyabhama, the most possessive among Krishna’s eight queens, is envious of Rukmini, his most devoted Consort. The celestial sage Narada creates a delicate situation for Krishna.
He brings from the Heaven a single Parijatham flower and presents it to Krishna when he is with Rukmini. Krishna presents it to Rukmini, only to enrage Satyabhama. When she comes to know of it, Sage Narada’s mischief works. Satyabhama has a tiff about the flower with Krishna. Krishna pacifies her, promising her the Parijatham tree itself. Krishna does bring the tree, it is also planted in Satyabhama’s back yard, but did she actually get its flowers? Was it a conspiracy? Was Krishna a party to it? The ballet reveals all this in a delightful way, with lovely songs and dances. Vivacious Sobha plays her most favorite role, Satyabhama in this fascinating play.
Script: Sri. Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao
Music : Sri. Dwaram Bhava Narayana & Sri. Mallik
Choreography: Sri. Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam.
Bhamakalapam (TRIUMPH OF THE WOMAN) Bhamakalapam is the life and soul of Kuchipudi dance. It is written by Siddhendra Yogi, the founder of the Kuchipudi dance style. A Kuchipudi dancer is considered to have completed training only if he or she successfully presents Bhamakalapam donning the complex but highly interesting role of Satyabhama. The play used to have a prelude concerning the ornate plait, Jada worn by Satyabhama and its timeless origin. Bhamakalapam was a lengthy play presented serially for nine nights in years gone by, but now it is condensed into a two-hour show. Sobha Naidu revived the Jada Vrittantam also as her sole contribution as a prelude to this eternal theme..
Satyabhama is much pampered among Krishna’s eight wives. The ballet opens with Satyabhama’s entry song in which she boasts of her beauty, wealth and her place of pre-eminence among Krishna’s wives. However, she finds herself distanced from Krishna over a trivial remark of hers. Now she cannot bear the separation from her Lord. Pouring her heart out to her maid, Madhavi, Satyabhama begs her to go and fetch her husband post haste. The maid pretends she does not know who Satyabhama’s husband is. She teases her to tell her husband’s name. An exhilaratingly humorous dialogue follows, Madhavi coaxing Satyabhama and the latter too shy to tell her husband’s name. She describes her husband, still Madhavi pretends she can’s place the man. She finally agree to go but what about the reward? Satyabhama agrees to give her all, except the Mungera, (nose stud). Madhavi make Satyabhama agree to part even with this. At Madhavi’s suggestion, Satyabhama writes the famous Lekha (love letter) to Krishna, which reads like a written apology. She begs Krishna to return to her. Showing Madhavi the good omens that greet her, Satyabhama dispatches the maid. Madhavi brings back Krishna, but Satyabhama does a volte-face, reverting to be her haughty self. Krishna bows down and there is s happy end. Madhavi brings up the Harathi (auspicious lamps) and sings the Mangalam (Benediction). Sobha is at her best in the role of Satyabhama, which she played hundreds of times.
Script and music: Sri. Siddhendra Yogi (16th century)
Choreography: Sri. Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam.
NRITYA CHOODAMANI, KRISHNA GANA SABHA,CHENNAI
NATYAKALA VIBHUSHANA, SANGEETHA VIDVATSABHA ,KAKINADA
ABHINAYA RASAMAYI, RASMAYI SAHITYA SANSKRITHIKA SAMST
KALA SARASWATHI-ANDHRA RATNA, ANDHRA PRADESH KALAVEDIKA
CENTRAL SANGEETA NATAKA ACADEMY,DELHI
NRITYA VIHAR ,SRI SRINGARA SAMSAD, BOMBAY
OUTSTANDING PERSONALITY,ABHINANDANA, HYDERABAD
NRITYA KALASIROMANI, NUNGAMBAKKAM CULTURAL ACADEMY,CHENNAI
LATE SRI N.T.RAMARAO AWARD ,STATE GOVT OF A.P
NATYABHARATHI, SRI DHARMAPURI TRUST, HYDERABAD
TELUGU UNIVERSITY PURASHKAR AWARD, POTTI SRI RAMULU TELUGU UNIVERSITY,HYDERABAD
HAMSA AWARD By STATE GOVT OF A.P
NATYA SAI MAANASA, KOVVADA SHIRIDI SAI DEVASTHANAM,KOVVADA
PADMASREE AWARD , GOVT OF INDIA
SAPTHAGIRI SANGEETHA VIDWANMANI, Sri Thyagaraja Festival Committee, TIRUPATI
UGAADI PURASKARAM,Nritya Ravali Samskrutika Sabha, VIJAYAWADA
Felicitation, By Bharata Nritya Kala Kshetram, VIJAYANAGARAM
Felicitation, By Kala Deepika Samstha, ELURU
Felicitation , BY Akhila Bharata Kuchipudi Natya Kalamandali, KUCHIPUDI
WOMEN OF THE YEAR AWARD, By Kala Nilayam, HYDERABAD
Felicitation , By Pragati Kala Mandali, SATTENAPALLY
NRITYA SEVA PURASKARAM, By Aaradhana Cultural Organisation, HYDERABAD
Felicitation , By Neeharika Entertainment, HYDERABAD
Felicitation, By Kaladarsi, VIJAYAWADA
NATYA TAPASVINI & GOLDEN CROWN By Sri Kalasudha Telugu Association, CHENNAI
NATYA KALA SAGARA, By Visakha Music Academy, VISAKHAPATNAM
NATYA VIDYA NIDHI, By Andhra Music Academy, HYDERABAD
Jagadanandakaaraka Srinivasa Kuchipudi Art Academy
28th Anniversary Celebrations at Ravindrabharati, Hyderabad – 18 November 2012
This ballet was a huge success. Ravindrabharati got filled with audience and also got great press reviews. Sobhanaidu did research for 2 years for this Ballet by meeting all the authorities and gone through the books of Thyagaraja. Finally was conferred with Fellowship from Sangeethnatak academy, New Delhi.
Felicitation by Vijayawada Cultural Academy at GVR Music & Dance College, Durga Puram, Vijayawada
29 October 2012 Sri Krishna Parijatam NTPC, Ramagundam – 12 September 2012