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Kuchipudi : A practice of Reverence and Transendance

Kuchipudi is one of the nine classical Indian dance styles. It is named after the village called Kuchipudi which is situated in the southern India. Founded by Guru Siddhendra Yogi in the 15th century, Kuchipudi, like other classical dance forms in India, traces its roots to the Natya Shastra, a foundational treatise on the performing arts.  The beauty of Kuchipudi lies in its quick and intricate footwork, its grace, sculpturesque body movements, and its use of expression to convey moods and feelings. This beautiful practice follows the tradition of guru-shishya parampara, the teacher-disciple lineage, where the knowledge and skills are passed down from a long succession of gurus and disciples.

The Program

Bhu Suktam​

An original piece, by Yamini Kalluri and the Kritya Music Ensemble, showcasing a hymn from the Rigveda - the oldest known sacred Vedic Sanskrit text. This piece entitled, Bhu Suktam, is a prayer to Mother Earth, and praises the infinite gracious aspects of Mother Earth and the Divine forbearance she exhibits to us all. 

Brahmanjali​

Brahmanjali, created by Padmabhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, is the first item a dedicated student learns after mastering their basic steps. It serves as an invocation to Lord Shiva, the Kuchipudi gurus such as Saint Siddhendra Yogi, the musicians who graciously support us, our fellow dancers, composers, poets, and the audience who help keep this art form alive.

Brindavana Nilaye

Brindavana Nilaye, is a canonical keerthana, or devotional song, in the Kuchipudi repertoire composed by Oothukadu Venkata Subba Iyer and choreographed by Padmabhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. It depicts a scene of a gopika and Radha in the city of Brindavan. The gopika tells Radha, the embodiment of romantic devotion to Krishna, that Krishna is returning to their city. 

Keertintu Nartana Gananadhuni 

Keertintu Nartana Gananadhuni, is a devotional hymn in praise of Ganesha, the Hindu deity of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. Through eloquent verses, the lyrics extol Ganesha's multifaceted nature, highlighting his elephant head, his affinity for music and dance, and his power to bestow prosperity and vanquish negativity. The song goes with lyrics and swara's with intrinsic dance movements. This is an original choreography by guest professional artist Sri. Pasumarthi Kumara Datta.

Rageshri Thillana

”Rageshri Thillana," is a pure dance piece that beautifully showcases the intricate language and rhythmic patterns of Kuchipudi. Each step tells a story, reflecting the grace and elegance of this classical dance form. The piece is a tribute to Lord Shiva, choreographed to a melody by Lalgudi Jayaraman. The lyrics, written in Telugu, express a deep devotion to Shiva, longing for liberation through the dance. This is an original choreography by professional artist Yamini Kalluri.

Bhupalam Thillana (Saturday)

Thillanas originated in the 18th century, with its earliest known composer being Mellatur Veerabhadraya of Thanjavur. A unique feature of this piece, called Bhupalam Thillana choreographed by Sri.Vempati Ravi Shankar, is the creative imagination of Chaaris (leg movements) and Nritta Hastas (arm movements), iconic to the Kuchipudi style which are culled from the Natya Sastra. The end of the piece has a small hymn to the deity Pabmanabha, the one with the lotus emanating from his naval.

Ananda Tandavam (Sunday)

Ananda Tandavam choreographed by the great Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam is a captivating poem written in praise of Lord Nataraja who resides in Chidambaram. The piece describes his wife, Goddess Parvati, daughter of King Himavan, and his consort, Goddess Ganga, who flows from the matted hair locks of Lord Siva. He is the origin of the Omkara, (the first sound known to the universe), and creates rhythm in every corner of the universe. The powerful tandava of Lord Siva creates goosebumps in all living beings. As Lord Shiva plays his dhamaruka (drum),

Lehra

Lehra is an original piece created by Yamini Kalluri and the Kritya Music Ensemble. Lehra is an abstract choreography dedicated to Yamini’s late grandmother, Kanaka Durga. The piece is set in Raag Durga, a Hindustani Raag. The uniqueness of this piece is that it features Hindustani music Vs. the more traditional dance choice of Carnatic music. This was done to emphasize the universality of art.  Here you’ll see intricate rhythms woven into the choreography using the jawab and sawal (question and answer) and padhant (recitation) formats, as well as some stylistic elements from other dance forms.

Nritta Keli

Nritta-Keli is a play revealing the story of a farmer. It is a pure nritta piece with lilting jathi syllables and rhythmic movements. In this dance, expressive movements will depict the farmer's journey through the agricultural cycle - plowing the land, sowing seeds, and the joyous celebration of harvest. This visual portrayal is rooted in Kuchipudi's rich movement vocabulary. This is an original choreography by guest professional artist Sri. Pasumarthi Kumara Datta.

Abhang

In this Abhang piece, choreographed by Yamini Kalluri, Saint Tukaram invites the townsfolk to surrender to his Guru, Eknath. He emphasizes his own act of placing his head at his Guru's feet as a symbol of complete surrender. Tukaram expresses that he sees neither virtues nor faults, but only the path to becoming a servant of his Guru's feet, which represent the transcendental journey his Guru has undertaken. He continues to say that without his Guru's grace, he is devoid of strength. Tukaram also mentions that it is through his surrender to Guru Eknath, that the Lord has revealed everything to him.

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The Kritya Story

Kritya Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization established in New York. Our organization starts from humble beginnings. In 2020 Kritya School of Dance was founded by artistic director Yamini Kalluri and managing director Isha Ferraz. The school and the overall mission of Kritya grew incorporating live Carnatic music, a professional dance ensemble, and various opportunities for community outreach to further propagate the Kuchipudi arts in the wider community of cultural and performing arts. It became clear that to support this wider dissemination of Kuchipudi that a new phase of Kritya would need to emerge and so Kritya Foundation was created! We are committed to delivering the best opportunities and services for those seeking to immerse themselves in the Kuchipudi art form. Whether it is through classes, performances, or presentations, we are dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the Indian classical arts.​

 

Your support means so much to us and we thank you for your presence here! We hope you enjoy this show that we have poured our hearts into and look forward to continuing our connection.

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Thank you to our Patrons and Festival Partners

Autumn Salon - Center for Traditional Music & Dance - Betsy Figueroa - Cathy Figueroa - Julie Torres - Sangeeta Raju - Vijay Gupta - Marshall Henry - Radhakrishna Kalluri - Christina Mangino - Keith Moser - Regina & Jonathan - Himabindu Kota - Kotesh - Vanigandla - Nitin Parikh - Srinidhi Yellala - Sunayana Jampanaboyana - Kubi Babu - Julia Berkeley - Padmaja Rangaraj - Kelly Hollis - Terry Goss - Praveena Sunkara

Performing Artists

Enjoy a series of captivating performances by distinguished professional artists, emerging talents, and ardent students, each bringing their unique gifts and dedication to this exquisite dance form.

Our Festival Crew

Event Manager - Sunayana Jampanaboyana

Box Office Manager - Sravya Saraswatula

Stage Manager - Rebekah Joy

Live-Streaming Operator - Laya Varanasi

Lighting & Sound Operator - Monica Athenas

Videographer - Brian Nager

Volunteer Staff Assistant -  Apurva Badithela

...and a team of amazing parents who were a wonderful support for last minute needs! 

Meet our Festival Emcee

Priya Chandrashekhar

Priya’s journey with Kuchipudi began at the age of 6. She trained with Dr. Kamala Reddy in Pittsburgh, PA, then later learned from Vedantam Radheshyam garu for a brief period in India, and Sastry Bhagavatula (now based in Corning, NY). Kuchipudi is deeply rooted in her family heritage, with both sides of her family (Yeleswarapu and Vedantam) being from Kuchipudi village, the birthplace of this classical Indian dance form. 

 

Now residing in NJ, Priya is dedicated to preserving and sharing this cultural legacy. Her own passion for Kuchipudi has been reinvigorated through her daughter's journey. For the past 2 years, Divya has been enthusiastically learning Kuchipudi, inspiring Priya to reconnect with her lifelong love for dance.

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Thank you so much for joining us.

We are so grateful for your presence and well wishes. You are helping to support our nonprofit initiative to preserve and celebrate the Indian Classical Arts through our ongoing classes, productions, and presentations. If you'd like to support our foundation further you can make a tax-deductible donation on our website HERE.

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