Warangal: Himansee Katragadda, a young Kuchipudi dancer, has embarked on a journey to bring much-needed recognition and international attention to historic temples through “The Temple Dance,” a novel initiative.
Speaking to Telangana Today about her mission to restore past glory to the ancient and medieval temple, especially the architectural marvels of Kakatiya era temple, Himansee said: “Being a Kuchipudi dancer, I have to travel the length and breadth of our country. Since a majority of the performances are held in temple premises, I was awestruck looking at the rich cultural heritage and the architectural grandeur of those temples. I always felt that temples are a testimony of India’s cultural heritage where dance, music and combative practices have been honed for ages. Unfortunately, some temples look like desolated pieces of neglected history due to several reasons.”
“Being a professional classical dancer, I thought that this art form will bring to light the plight of many neglected temples which are one of the most valuable assets of this nation,” she said, adding that she had come up with the innovative campaign “The Temple Dance” in 2019 and chose Kota Gullu (Ghanpuram Group of Temples) located near Ghanpur village of Jayashankar Bhupapally district as the first temple to start my the campaign,” Himansee recalled her first attempt to perform at the temple as a part of ‘The Temple Dance’ campaign.
Luckily, this novel initiative was launched by noted film director K Vishwanath, who was credited for giving much priority to classical music, dance and Indian culture in most of his movies.
“Impressed by my attempt, Vishwanath said that ‘regaining the past glory to the temples overnight was indeed not possible at all, but it is extremely heartening to see Himansee take up this idea of doing her bit to bring lost glory to the temples which were in a state of despair,” she said recalling the words of Vishwanath at the time of the launch of the programme.
“I also wanted Temple Dance to be a platform for budding dancers to showcase their talent. We have completed five projects to date which include Kota Gullu, Warangal Fort Temple, Inavolu Mallikharjuna Swamy temple, Gandikota and Jakaram temples which got the dancers good recognition and our ‘YouTube’ channel has been seen by thousands of viewers. I believe and wish these performances will surely help temples regain their lost glory,” Himansee, who is doing her B Tech final year in a private college in Warangal, said, and added that she takes the entire responsibility of choreography, cinematography, direction and editing of her dance videos rather than hiring others as filming dance videos, according to her, is altogether a different skill set as one needs to focus on swift moves, intricate expressions, capturing various expressions in different takes.
“I wish to dedicate my life to the dance ensuring that the coming generations go back to their roots where education was not just about academics but also being educated in various art forms which help citizens emerge holistically,” she said. Since her mother, Sri Laxmi is very much interested in art forms such as dance, music and painting, she encouraged Himansee to learn all of them.
“Right from the age of 6 years, I used to travel from Warangal to Hyderabad to learn dance there during my summer vacation. Meeting renowned Kuchipudi exponent and dance guru Bompelly Sudheer Rao, when I was 14, was a turning point, as he not only trained me but also encouraged me to perform at various platforms across the nation,” Himansee said about her initial days of dance learning.
She has got more than 1,000 performances to her credit to date. These performances have earned her many awards and accolades even at the national level. This young dancer was, so far, awarded the prestigious “Bala Ratna Award” by the Government of Telangana in 2017 and the ‘National Youth Award’ in the dance category by the Government of India in 2018.
Himansee even had the privilege to share the stage with iconic dancing exponents in Kuchipudi dance like Dr Shobha Naidu, Dr Vempati Ravishankar and several others.
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