When the Kuchipudi dancers perform, language is no barrier to the story they tell of lovers uniting and good triumphing over evil.
On Saturday, the Kuchipudi (pronounced Koochipoodi) Dance Academy will perform “Krishna and Rukmini: A Love Story” at the Emma Kelly Theater. The traditional Hindu religious story tells the tale of Lord Krishna and the princess Rukmini and the obstacles they overcome to be with one another.
The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $28 for adults and $10 for youth. Tickets can be purchased at the Averitt Center box office or by calling (912) 212-2787.
Sasikala Penumarthi, who founded the academy in 1997, said Kuchipudi is one of India's seven classical dances and originated in the southern Indian village of Kuchipudi.
The 2,000-year-old dance style is characterized by systematic hand and facial movements and body positions.
Penumarthi, who began dancing as a toddler and undertook formal training with a guru at the age of seven, will perform the role of Princess Rukmini.
“Kuchipudi is all drama-based,” Penumarthi said. “It is very easy to follow the story through the actions.”
Many of the dancers performing have been training for nine to 10 years, including Penumarthi's 14-year-old daughter who will dance the part of the peacock. A traditional Indian orchestra will also accompany the dancers.
Averitt Center for the Arts executive director Tim Chapman recently attended a performance by the Kuchipudi dancers in Atlanta.
“The performance was wonderful,” Chapman said. “The costumes, dancing, lighting and music all reflected a culture I am unfamiliar with, but I was intrigued not only by the art form presented, but by the message in the love story.”
The Kuchipudi Dance Academy is a nonprofit organization which teaches dance and performs throughout the region.
“I'm really happy and honored to be part of the Georgia Council for the Arts and have the opportunity to share the Indian culture among communities,” Penumarthi said. “The arts bring people and nations together and I love to share this art form.”
The Kuchipudi dancers are sponsored by Dr. Dalsania and Family Internal Medicine.