about Kalabharathi Performing Arts
Kalabharathi Performing Arts is a collective of experienced dancers and teachers, whose shared passion for Kuchipudi inspires creative collaboration and choreography.
Our key focus is the promotion of Kuchipudi in Australia, including:
- Presentation of traditional works to maintain and educate on stylistic traditions
- Presentation of new and innovative works to promote choreographic evolution
- Inspire a new generation of dancers
Kuchipudi is one of the eight major classical dance forms of India. It has a long, rich tradition intimately connected with the Hindu religious practices of India.
At its core, Kuchipudi is storytelling through the art of dance.
Inextricably tied to classical Indian musical compositions, movements are choreographed according to the laws of the Natya Shastra to be a kinetic portrayal of the lyrics of their accompanying soundtracks. Within this framework, the choreographer has the freedom to explore and play with form, movement and rhythm.
The creative genius of Padmabhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam inspired a renaissance in the genre, adopting a more restrained approach to movement. There was now a new aesthetic to Kuchipudi, one of more grace and refinement: for the dancer, this required new heights of control, strength and agility; and for the viewer, this resulted in a dance of beguiling elegance and pleasing symmetry.
Following his father’s legacy, Kalaratna Guru Vempati Ravishankar’s creations further explored the potential of movement in Kuchipudi. Within the boundaries set by traditional lyrical mime, he brought unique and underutilised movements to the fore. His unparalleled combinations of hand and leg movements demand full body commitment from the dancer, requiring extraordinary strength, self awareness and control to ensure graceful execution. For the viewer, the overall effect is one of dynamism and flowing athleticism, where dance takes precedence over music.
about kalaratna guru Vempati Ravishankar
Vempati Ravishankar is the fifth and youngest child of the great Kuchipudi guru, Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Satyam. He started learning dance without intimating to his father and later he received his training under the Maestro himself from a very early age.
Since then, Guru Ravishankar has come to be known as a complete artist, for he is not only a legendary dancer and choreographer, but is also an accomplished writer, musician and music composer.
He has received many accolades such as:
- Kalaratna from Andhra Pradesh by Chief Minister Nara Chandra Babu Naidu;
- Natyakala Surya award in Chennai;
- Siddhendra Puraskar from Kerala; and
- Best Male Dancer award in the Natyakala Conference from Krishna Ghana Sabha in Chennai
Music & Dance
Guru Ravishankar has extensive and impressive experience as a dancer, both as a soloist and as a key and often leading role in Guru Vempati’s dance ballets. He has toured extensively in this capacity, including USA, Europe and Australia and New Zealand. From 1994 to 2004, he was the principal male dancer for the troupe, showcasing legendary choreographies such as Shiva in Ksheerasagara Mathanam and Ardhanareeshwaram. The Kuchipudi Prathidwani worldwide tour in 1998 and the following Kuchipudi 2000 global tour in 2000 helped to raise the profile not only of Kuchipudi, but of Guru Ravishankar as the preeminent artist of the next generation.
Alongside his dance education, Guru Ravishankar began Carnatic vocal training from a young age from music legend Dr. Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna. Having mastered a full repertoire and imbibed the foundation blocks of music, Guru Ravishankar has gone on to write and compose many pieces including keerthanas, javalis and thillanas.
Guru Ravishankar’s choreography career is the natural extension of his multifaceted fine arts education. He choreographed his first dance piece at the age of 12, and his skills have only grown in complexity, nuance and innovation since then, winning rave reviews from artists and art connoisseurs as well as numerous accolades:
- Over 100 solo items, to compositions of Narayana Theertha, Swathi Thirunal, Annamayya and his own, amongst others;
- 3 major dance dramas – Nava Durga, Ramana Katha (the story of Sri Ramana Maharshi), and Sri Leela Ganapathy;
- 3 thematic dance productions – Andhra Kala Vilasam, Visweswara Vijayam and Bhavayami Raghuramam
Guru Ravishankar has always been an informal Guru to those around him, given his natural proclivity for the arts. However, in a formal capacity, he dedicated his life to the propagation and development of Kuchipudi. Under his inspiring tutelage, a new generation of dancers have grown and evolved the Kuchipudi artform to more exciting and dynamic exploration.
He is the founder and director of Ravishankar Narthanam. The foundation’s main premise is to provide an arena for senior Kuchipudi dancers to learn the advanced choreographies of Guru Padmabhushan Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam and Guru Kalaratna Vempati Ravishankar.
Since his demise in 2018, Guru Ravishankar’s wife, Vempati Priyanka, has taken the reigns of Ravishankar Narthanam.