Kalabharathi Performing Arts is a collective of experienced dancers, whose shared passion for Kuchipudi inspires creative collaboration and choreography.
Priyanka Vempati is one of those rare artists who have made dance their life’s work. She has the unique distinction of learning and mastering three different dance forms –Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam – and has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mohiniattam at the Sree Shankaracharya University of Sanskrit under the skilled guidance of Kalamandalam Smt Leelamaniamma.
Priyanka’s great passion for dance led her to the legendary Guru Padmabhushan Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam, and she began her journey in Kuchipudi.
In her time there, Priyanka displayed tremendous sensitivity towards technique, performing with enticing exuberance and showcasing extraordinary promise. Priyanka soon came to be the choice for lead roles in Guru Vempati’s famous dance ballets, such as:
- Rukmini in Rukmini Kalyanam;
- Parvathi in Haravilasam;
- Sita in Ramanayam;
- Lakshmi in Ksheerasagara Mathanam; and
- Satyabhama in Sree Krishna Parijatham
Priyanka has performed extensively throughout the world including Chennai’s Sri Krishna Ghana Sabha; Sangeetha Natak Academy; Delhi’s Bhagavatha Mela Festival and the Temple of Fine Arts in Malaysia.
Following Guru Vempati’s passing in 2012, Priyanka continued her Kuchipudi journey under the inspired direction of her husband, Guru Kalaratna Vempati Ravishankar.
Given her strong grasp of the extensive and nuanced Kuchipudi repertoire, Priyanka became the natural choice to showcase the unique choreographic works of Guru Ravishankar for more than a decade. She has since become renowned as an exponent in the Vempati Ravishankar style of Kuchipudi.
Since Guru Ravishankar’s demise in 2018, Priyanka has taken the reigns of his teaching foundation, 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.
Visit Ravishankar Narthanam here
Vanaja Dasika is an accomplished Indian classical dance instructor, performer, choreographer and vocalist. Known for her unique style, Vanaja has to her merit many successful Kuchipudi dance dramas and vocal concerts.
She began dance training at very young age and has been undergoing intensive training in Kuchipudi style of dance under the direct tutelage of Padmabhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam at the Kuchipudi Art Academy. She has since performed in many major dance festivals and toured extensively around India, USA, France and Australia.
Vanaja began the next stage of her dance career as an instructor at the Kuchipudi Art Academy, under the auspices of Vempati Chinna Satyam. From there, her inspired choreographies as well as unique style of creative teaching technique, insights into music, choreography and dance technique have grown in renown.
Vanaja has a multifaceted involvement in fine-arts. She received vigorous vocal training since 1995 from Guru Bhagavatula Sitarama Sarma at Kala Peetham, Chennai, India and has been the main vocalist for most of Kuchipudi Art Academy’s dance concerts that are presented all over India. She also conducts vocal music lessons for many aspiring students. As a freelance vocalist, Vanaja has also provided vocal support for Bharatanatyam dance performance held in Singapore and USA for the students of Kala Peetham, music and dance institute which is established in Chennai, India and has branches in Singapore and USA.
Vanaja currently runs Carnatic music and Kuchipudi lessons at her school Sadhanalaya in Canberra, Australia.
Visit Sadhanalaya here
Sailaja began dancing under the auspices of Ms. Anandavalli of Lingalayam Dance Academy. With a solid grounding in Bharatha Natyam, she partook in many of the academy’s and a few of the Lingalayam Dance Company programs, taught at the academy and performed her arangetram in 1999. Anandavalli fostered a great love of dance as well as a strong sense of rigour and discipline in Sailaja.
In 2004, Sailaja was first exposed to Kuchipudi through Padmabhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam’sKuchipudi GlobeTrot 2000 tour. Witnessing the mastery of their storytelling, the finesse of the dancers and Kalaratna Guru Vempati Ravishankar’s play of the titular roles, Sailaja was left with an overwhelming need to connect to this artform.
Sailaja travelled to Guru Vempati’s Kuchipudi Art Academy in Chennai to train in the foundations from the Maestro himself. In addition to a heightened rigour and discipline, Guru Vempati’s extraordinary love for the dance as well his students ensured Sailaja’s connection to this dance form became deeply engrained.
Following Guru Vempati’s passing, Sailaja began advanced training from his son, Kalaratna Guru Vempati Ravishankar. Under his guidance, Sailaja began to approach her dancing technically rather than intuitively. She began to understand the nuances of rhythm, expand her abhinaya thoughtfully as well as learn the historical context of each piece. Guru Ravishankar pushed her to connect with each item in a way that was both challenging and thrilling.
Sailaja was also guided in her quest by her mentor and dearest friend, Dr. Sangita Rangala, a gifted and talented dancer trained by Padmabhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. Imbuing Sangita’s painstaking attention to detail, Sailaja re-examined her constructs about movement and flow in Kuchipudi.
Today, Sailaja is a humble and sincere dancer who seeks to communicate as well as explore spiritual and humanistic concepts through her dance. Kalabharathi Performing Arts aims to be a collective of like-minded artists and Sailaja is proud to be involved with such a group.
Shobhana began her classical Indian dance career at a young age, learning Bharatha Natyam from Ms Anandavalli at the Lingalayam Dance Academy in Sydney, Australia. During her time there, Shobhana imbibed the building blocks of classical South Indian dance and music and proved herself to be a quick learner and a precocious dancer.
In 2004, Shobhana became exposed to the world of Kuchipudi from Padmabhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam’s Kuchipudi 2000 tour in Sydney. The troupe performed Ardhanareeshwara, the story of Shiva, Shakti and River Ganga, with Kalaratna Guru Vempati Ravishankar taking the title role, and the experience left Shobhana with an intense emotion of hunger and inspiration. Thus began Shobhana’s journey into Kuchipudi.
In 2006, Shobhana travelled to the Guru Vempati’s Kuchipudi Art Academy in Chennai to train in the foundations from the Maestro himself. Shobhana trained locally from Smt Aruna Iyengar between 2011 and 2013 and it was in her time here that Shobhana increased her repertoire.
While she had previously attended intensive classes from Kalaratna Guru Vempati Ravishankar, Shobhana began advanced training in 2013, and her dancing flourished. Guru Ravishankar encouraged Shobhana to approach her training from a holistic perspective, often emphasizing points of thala or rhythm, or the poetic entendre encapsulated within the lyrics of a composition. From Guru Ravishankar, Shobhana learnt a new level of discipline and his complex choreographies inspired her to challenge her notions of movement in Kuchipudi.
Shobhana’s passion for Kuchipudi has only grown from her first exposure in 2004. As her journey has continued through the years, she has come to be known as a skilled and passionate local dancer. Shobhana’s goal has crystallised into a definite need to enable Kuchipudi in Australia and Kalabharathi Performing Arts is her first step towards this goal.