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The art of storytelling through Bharata Nrityam – “Kathaavali”

June 2017
The art of storytelling through Bharata Nrityam – “Kathaavali”


(Left) Harini, who has been running this school since 2009, learnt from her mother the late guru Sundari Santhanam, foremost disciple of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam. (Photo: Kishore Balantrapu)


Bharata Nrityasala, an Indian classical dance school in Cumming, Georgia, celebrated its annual recital on April 8, 2017 at the historic Cumming Playhouse in the 1923 Cumming Public School, a structure named to the National Register in the year 2000. This recital was a first in multicultural activities at the Playhouse toward the goal of building a stronger, inclusive community through mutual understanding and respect.




(Left) As Hanuman bows down with arms stretched out to receive from Lord Rama the ring that sparkles as bright as 1,000 suns, Lakshmana and Sugreeva watch eagerly. (Photo: Kishore Balantrapu)

“Kathaavali” described historical stories from the Ramayana to the Pied Piper of Hamelin and showed emotions ranging from romance to humor to drama. The style of performance is called Bharata Nrityam as it includes the lost aspects of Natya Shastra that were revived and reconstructed by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam several decades ago: vyayamas are like exercises for the various limbs of the body that prepare a dancer to perform the more complicated leg and hand movements such as charis and nrittahastas; karanas are 108 more advanced movements, involving the entire body.

The unique way of presenting a German folktale called the Pied Piper of Hamelin to Madurai Mani Iyer’s English notes was very well appreciated and the children enjoyed dancing for it.

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One of the participants shared their experience:
“Having recently moved to the US from India, Kathaavali has been a great opportunity for me to showcase my talent and stretch my capabilities, in turn kickstarting my journey as dancer in America! It has been a very special homecoming experience as I could dance with my teacher again after a long time….The audience being highly appreciative and supportive made it all the more memorable!”


A previous report in Khabar tells more about the school:


This photo (left) made on the front steps of the National Register 1923 Cumming School takes its place along with the old history of the community as an inclusion of a new chapter as we watch horizons broaden. (Photo: Kishore Balantrapu)



CUMMING PLAYHOUSE, located at 101 School Street is housed within the 1923 Cumming Public School. It was named to the National Register in 2000. A property of The City of Cumming, it also houses "The Historical Society of Forsyth" County and "The Col. Hiram Parks Bell Center for Southern History and Genealogical Research." As a performing arts venue, "The Cumming Playhouse" provides quality entertainment throughout the season offering plays, musicals, concerts, and catered fine dining on select performances. Within the walls of the old school house you will find: School's Historic Library highlighting the school's history via memorabilia of students from the 20's - 50's The Historical Society of Forsyth County Headquarters The Bell Research Center, a 2000 book library on Southern History Replica of High School Class room 40's 50's Catering Kitchen and dining area. Handicap accessibility for performers and visitors.

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