Life gives difficult-yet-different opportunities only to a few, and only some get to don different roles, like from being a dancer and a teacher to an administrator. Not many, especially ones from the fine arts background, reach the top administrative positions in a university. Alekhya Punjala is one such luminary.
Started as a Kathak and Odissi dancer under the tutelage of late Dayal Sharan, Alekhya Punjala gradually became an exponent in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam styles of dance. With a sole aim to propagate the classical dance culture, Alekhya also forayed into academic arena and served as Head, Department of Dance in Potti Sriramulu Telugu University in Hyderabad. She rose in ranks from head of department to dean and now reached upper echelons of the university serving as the registrar.
Alekhya credits her arts background for the headway in her career, “Arts teach you everything. I consider my dance as a meditation that helps in anything I do and any position I serve,” says this danseuse who also holds a doctorate in Kshetrayya Padams.
Alekhya is known for portraying powerful women characters through her performances, be it Rani Rudramadevi or Mandodari, “I love to portray roles of women which are inspiring – whether they are from history or mythology,” shares Alekhya who is also training budding Kuchipudi artistes through Trishna, a dance academy started by her to pass on the art form to younger generation.
During her tenure as registrar of the Potti Sriramulu University, Alekhya was successful in hosting the World Telugu Conference held in December 2017 for which the university was one of the venues. In a way, she balanced both her academic obligations and her passion for dance. “It was a great experience to host the event as many academic sessions took place at the university and also I performed the role of Rudramadevi during the meet,” says Alekhya.
Having performed at various national and international stages, Alekhya is a sought-after artiste for many dance festivals which had earned her the sobriquet ‘Abhinaya Tapasvini’ as she can spellbind the audience with myriads of abhinayas. “I can translate my feelings and emote them, something which comes naturally for me,” says Alekhya.
She also suggests to the upcoming artistes that being passionate about what one is doing and a rigorous practice can result in excellence. And the artistes should have a clear understanding about their field of practice, she adds.
Alekhya is confident that the growth of classical dance was not stalled in changing times but she appealed to the parents to consider art forms as a serious option as learning an art can benefit a person in many ways. “People stop practising the classical dance once they reach certain age to settle in their career,” she said urging the parents to make their children continue the practice.
With decades of service to the field of Kuchipudi and her hallmark sathvika abhinaya, the renowned dancer carved a niche for herself. Alekhya is also a recipient of many awards such as Prathibha Rajiv Puraskar, Ugadi Vishist Purasakar, and Telangana State award to name a few.