Sacred Steps: Nritta, Nritya and Natya with the Udupa Sisters

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Mangaluru, 26 Feb 2024: In the heartland of Dakshina Kannada, a burgeoning trend proudly showcases its own cadre of vaggeyakaras (music lyricists) in the Bharatanatyam repertoire. Recently, I had the privilege of witnessing a mesmerizing Duo Rangapravesha (a debut Bharatanatyam performance) by the talented Udupa Sisters of Kundapur. The performance, held in the time-honored tradition of an old temple at Bhandarkar’s Art and Science College, was curated and choreographed by Guru Smt. Pravitha Ashok.


From the evocative Pushpanjali and Ganesh sthuthi to the intricate Varnam, Devaranama, and the Devi Krithi, the Udupa Sisters drew from a rich tapestry of traditional compositions. However, what truly captivated the audience was the revival of the age-old method of composition in the Jathiswaram by Sri Manjunath N Puttur, set in Mishra Ata tala and Ragamalika. This was followed by a rare rendition of Shabdam in Ragamalika and Mishra chapu tala, with lyrics in Kannada.


A particularly enchanting moment was the rendition of a beautiful Javali in Raga Atana, set to the rhythm of rupaka Tala, with Kannada lyrics, both composed by Smt. Sumangala Rathnakar. The performance reached its crescendo with an exquisitely complex yet emotionally resonant Thillana in Raga Lavangi, set to the rhythm of khanda Dhruva, with Kannada charana sahitya, composed by the young talent from our district, Sri Manjunath N Puttur.



The collaboration of two adept lyricists and Bharatanatyam music composers delivered an astonishing experience. Their finesse in choreography, steeped in the Kalakshetra style, elevated the duet performance to new heights. Vocal support by Sri Srikanth Gopalakrishnan from Chennai provided the authentic ambiance of Chennai’s esteemed sabhas. Meanwhile, Udupi prodigy Sri Harsha Samaga’s percussion skills lent solid support to Guru Smt. Pravitha Ashok, who conducted the nattuvangam with grace and precision. Contributions from Nithish Ammannaya on flute and Smt. Sharmila Rao on violin added depth and emotion to the music, beautifully reflected in the expressions of the dancers.


Amongst the gathered audience were esteemed dance maestros and artists, gracing the occasion with their presence. Known for his contributions to Karnataka’s artistic legacy, the esteemed Guru Shri Ullal Mohan Kumar, recipient of the Karnataka Kala Tilaka and Shanthala Awardee, extended his blessings and well-wishes to both the teacher and the talented performers. The sight of the auditorium filled to capacity was truly remarkable, as art enthusiasts, educators, practitioners, and promoters from neighbouring districts converged to partake in this cultural extravaganza. A special commendation is owed to the parents whose unwavering support has propelled their daughters to such commendable heights in the realm of art. The vibrant energy of the audience resonated with each graceful movement on stage, illuminating their heartfelt appreciation for the artistry before them. It’s heartening to witness the commitment of our local dancers, who not only attend such performances but also foster a tight-knit artistic community, supporting each other every step of the way.


Yukthi and Sunidhi, the profound performers, have undoubtedly set a milestone in Kundapur’s classical dance scene, heralding an era of endless possibilities in the realm of Bharatanatyam. However, for this journey to continue, it’s imperative that they receive support not only at the local and state levels but also nationally and internationally, to nurture and showcase the talents of emerging Bharatanatyam artists, vaggeyakaras, and soulful dancers.



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