VISION 2020 – Kuchipudi for a Good Cause
VISION 2020′s commitment towards eradicating poverty through the funding of useful projects sees it organize one charity event every year. Founded in 2005 it has been holding programmes successfully with the help of a few dedicated committee members and a group of volunteers. This year Vision 2020 held an evening that showcased young talent presenting Kuchipudi [a classical dance style named after its village of origin] at the Dundas Community Centre in Sturt Street Dundas. The dance form popularized by eminent dancers such as Shobha Naidu, portrayed a first generation Australian, Aruna Iyengar, student of Padma Menon, making a come back after sometime onto the dance floor. A courageous step executed diligently.
Aruna Iyengar is one of the few kuchipudi dancers in Sydney who can happily get on a brass plate and dance to a complicated Jathi or rhythmic pattern. Aruna is one of the torch bearer’s of this traditional form of dance today in Sydney. Aruna’s passion for her dance saw her blossom under the loving tutelage and dedication of her guru Padma Menon. Aruna has learnt Ballet and Calisthenics. A born Australian, she also visited India to learn directly from Padma Menon’s Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. Aruna proves to all youngsters of today that living in Australia, one can still pursue an Indian traditional artform to keep it alive in our hearts and in our life. Over the years she has travelled and performed extensively in Kerala through the dance school Kailash Dance Company established in Canberra and with the Lingalayam Dance Academy.
Despite being a mother of two children and holding a professional career as a Compliance and Risk Manager at one of the major banks, her love and passion for this artform was self evident during her performance this evening. She commenced it with an invocatory piece in praise of Lord Ganesh through which she established from the beginning her command of expression and movement. The main piece of the evening was the Tharangam when Aruna presented the thematic ever alluring ways of Krishna in music set to a ragamalika to a rhythm or thalam of eight beats. The speciality of this centre piece is the dancer’s ability to present both the technical aspects of dance and play acting effectively, so that the audience is carried not only through the story of the dance but also entranced by the sheer beauty of the sculpturistic poses and rhythmic excellence of the dancer.
Aruna satisfied all of these aspects in her dance and more with the finale forming the dance on a brass plate considered a feature of Kuchipudi dance. Aruna stepped on a brass plate with confidence and moved in first to short beats towards the front of the stage and then back. She gradually increased the beat with which she moved on the stage on top of the plate. A feature followed ardently by the audience much to their pleasure, she executed “dancing on the plate” effortlessly. The programme proceeded towards several other pieces where Aruna portrayed the beauty of Satyabhama, consort of Lord Krishna, Goddess Padmavati through the eyes of the poet Annamacharya, and the final dance as the masculine Lord Shiva which ended in complex rhythmic footwork. The organization and management of Vision 2020 was exceptional. Unlike most Indian Charity performances where children run riot, conversations aplenty dress the noisy foyers gaining little attention for the performers it was relief to see both the audience, performance and the organisors in their best form.