Ayana Mukherjee’s evocative Kuchipudi

Ayana Mukherjee

On 30 November 2022, accomplished Kuchipudi dancer Ayana Mukherjee, a disciple of Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao, presented a recital at IIC as part of the IIC Double Bill Dance Recitals.  The following is the account of the pieces performed as described by Ayana. 


Her first piece was ‘Ardhanarishwara Stotram’. Ardhanarishwara is the composite male-female figure of Shiva together with his consort Parvati. As seen in many Indian and South-east Asian sculptures, the right (male) half of the figure is adorned with the traditional ornaments of Shiva. Half of the hair is piled up in matted locks, half of a third eye is visible on the forehead, a tiger skin covers the loins and serpents are used as ornaments. The left half shows hair well combed and plaited, half of a tilak on the forehead, the eye outlined in black, a well-developed breast, a silk garment fastened with girdles, an anklet and the foot tinted red with henna. The choreography was by Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao. 

Her next piece was ‘Dashavatar’. It is believed that lord Shri Mahavishnu incarnates on earth from time to time to eradicate evil forces, to restore the dharma. These ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are collectively known as Dashavatar. The piece was in raagmalika, tala mishrachapu. The choreography was by Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinnasatyam.


Next was an ashtapadi of Jayadeva, choreographed by Guru Vanashree Rao. ‘Rati-sukha-sāre gatam abhisāre madana-manohara-veśam’ – oh dear Radha, go quickly to meet your beloved Krishna who is beautiful like Manmadha. The breeze is blowing gently. Krishna is waiting in Brindavan on the bank of the Yamuna. His hands play on the breasts of gopikas. The choreography portrays the characters of Krishna, gopika and Radha. Unlike the usual model of narrating this ashtapadi from the perspective of Radha, this piece opens with Krishna waiting for Radha’s arrival.  It tries to touch upon the feelings of the nayak, who suffers from separation and waits for his beloved. 


The concluding piece was a thillana, a rhythmic piece in Carnatic music that is generally performed at the end of a concert. This piece comprises various nrutta techniques and showcases the balance technique on the plate, which is a signature piece of Kuchipudi.

Vanashree Rao on nattuvangam, K. Venkatesh on vocals, R. Keshavan on mridangam
and Raghavendra Prasath on the violin

Ayana with her gurus Vanashree Rao and Jayarama Rao and Guru Geeta Chandran

The presentation featured Vanashree Rao on nattuvangam, K. Venkatesh on vocals, R. Keshavan on mridangam and other percussion and Raghavendra Prasath on the violin.

Pics: Anoop Arora