‘Chinnadevi – The Elusive Dancer’

Chamu & Mathangi - photo credit to Shanta Rao
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‘Chinnadevi – The Elusive Dancer’ is a performance that tells an untold historical, fictional love story of a dancer and the emperor through dance, music and storytelling.

Set in the 15th century, Chinnadevi: The Elusive Dancer is a love story of Prince Krishna Deva Raya and Chinnadevi who however part tragically and spend half of their lives trying to find each other. Dance and poetry keep them alive, but apart. While Krishna Deva Raya wages wars, builds magnificent temples and writes exquisite poetry, driven by his love for Chinnadevi, she Chinnadevi learns Bharathanatyam, becomes a devadasi, serves at a mutt, and endures the censure of medieval society. Will she ever meet Krishna Deva Raya again? Does she marry her Prince and live happily ever after? Well, answers are in this 90 minute show happening this Friday.

The team has Dr. Chamundeeswari Kuppuswamy – Producer and Lead Performer, Mathangi Keshavan and Vijay Palaparthy – Lead Performers, Lianne Oosterbaan and Vedika Hegde – Performers and Aparna Jaishankar – Professional Storyteller. “We are an international dance collective come together through our love of exploring the classical arts in its historical and cultural context. For the last two years, we started conversations to learn and inspire each other in our various art forms, which are story-telling, Kuchupudi, Bharathanatyam and poetry,” says Aparna Jaishankar.

Aparna -photo credit Indraprabha Appuswamy
Aparna -photo credit Indraprabha Appuswamy

Chinnadevi- The Elusive Dancer is an adaptation of the book I, Krishnadevaraya and Chinnadevi is a character in the book, the devadasi of the Srivilliputtur temple in Tamilnadu who later marries Krishnadevaraya, the emperor of Vijayanagara. “In this narrative, we speak through Chinnadevi’s voice and narrate her life story in a visual and experiential manner, through dance and narration through voice. We speak of the love between the nayaka and the nayika, namely Krishnadevaraya and Chinnadevi. We have picked up composers from the period, for example, Purandaradasa. The beauty of this production is that we don’t do a traditional margham in a traditional way, but we intersperse margham items in one long story, wherein the Varnam or the Padam fits naturally into the narrative, and the content of the pieces are the content of the story,” says Aparna. The team is harnessing the power of the voice through the story teller to span the length and the breadth of the story, while we use dance to intensify and deepen the emotion in the characters and make it altogether an immersive experience in our classical arts, played out in a holistic and embedded manner. 

Chinnadevi is unique in the sense that it brings perspective on a fairly linear narrative. It plays out at different levels to different recipients, there is not just something in it for everyone so whether you are into poetry, music, dance or just love, this one is certain to strike a chord. Chinnadevi- the elusive dancer is a voyage of discovery for the artistes and for the audience. 

  •         Where: Atta Galatta, #134, KHB Colony, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore
  •         What: Chinnadevi- “The Elusive Dancer”
  •         When: Friday, 21st of Dec 2018 – 7:30-8:45 PM
  •         Entry: Free
  •         RSVP: 080 – 4160 0677

This story first appeared in Deccan Chronicle dated 21st Dec 2018 here:

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