Through the eyes of a dancer

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An invite to the Victorian parliament is a highlight for visiting Kuchipudi performer Madhurima Narla

Melbourne through the eyes of visiting dancer Madhurima is a world of endless possibilities, a city of knowledge, creativity and many opportunities. And yes, good coffee!

In an interview with Indian Link, renowned Indian Kuchipudi artist Madhurima Narla shared personal glimpses of her recent visit to the world’s most livable city.

Madhurima Nala.Indian Link

Adept at creating an image of effortless grace and beauty during her performances, perfection is what Narla lives for, and passion is what drives her. Her dance being the most expressive form of art allows her to share a story and portray emotions with ease.

At the age of 12, Narla started learning Kuchipudi from legendary Padmabhushan Dr Vempati Chinna Sathyam. She continued her learning under the guidance of Guru Sathya Priya, a senior student of Dr Vempati Chinna Sathyam, for more than a decade.

She is currently under the guidance of guru Sri Ravi Vempati. Through her Tanmaya Dance Academy in Hyderabad, India she teaches 200 students the art of Kuchipudi dance.

Over the years Narla has mastered the skills, inherited the tradition, imbibed the qualities, enriched the repertoire and expanded into new horizons of themes for her dance.

This was not Narla’s first trip to Melbourne, having been here twice before to visit her sister who lives in Macleod. “I feel that Melbourne is like my third home (the first two being Hyderabad and Chennai),” said the beautiful dancer, her doe eyes dancing with promise.

Madhurima Nala.Indian Link

“Each year I have performed at local community events but this trip offered more opportunities than before including a memorable visit to the Parliament of Victoria,” said Narla clearly excited to share her experience.

“It was all thanks to MP Inga Peulich, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs. She met me at the Piers Festival of Multicultural Arts Victoria in early April and invited me to meet other Parliamentarians,” she continued.

The high tea at the Victorian Parliament was easily the highlight of Narla’s trip according to her. She met the President of the Legislative Assembly and several ministers and appreciated the fortuity to explain to them the intricacies of Kuchipudi dance.

Madhurima Nala.Indian Link

“They were all curious about the process of dancing and fascinated by my explanation that Kuchipudi dance as an art form has its own grammar and structural elements that underpins its construction and execution,” said Narla.

Besides her presentation to the Parliamentarians Narla also performed a Holika ballet at the Northern Region Indian Seniors Association (NRISA), a workshop called Panchali Saptham, Indo-Sri Lankan New Year festival at Preston Town Hall, Piers Festival 2016 and gave two performances at the Sri Durga Temple in Rockbank, Melbourne.

According to the elegant dancer her favourite was the Piers Festival in Port Melbourne. “I enjoyed learning about art from other multicultural communities that participated in the festival,” she said with a smile of contentment. “It was fascinating to witness the colourful diversity of Melbourne and explore the states’ rich history of migration.”

Madhurima Nala.Indian Link

Narla strongly believes that art transcends traditional, linguistic and cultural barriers; it is universal in nature. The seasoned artist is currently conducting a research on the universal grammar of dance. She felt that the local Kuchipudi scene in Melbourne could do with an uplift, even though she did not get much chance to watch other performances nor was she made aware of many institutions, where structured knowledge of her art form was being imparted to local students.

On a personal note she could not get enough of the momos (dumplings) that her sister’s children introduced her to, and felt like she was in coffee heaven every time she stepped out in Melbourne.

Madhurima Nala.Indian Link

When she was not rehearsing or performing Narla made a habit of stepping out on her own, catching a train and exploring the city. The iconic Flinders Street and Federation Square caught her fancy as did the shopping at Myer, but most of all she loved the parks in and around Melbourne.

Narla is now back in Chennai, but having had a taste of the unique lifestyle of Melbourne it won’t be long before she would like to visit again.

Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.
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