The Tri State Telugu Association, Chicago, celebrated Telugu New Year, Ugadi, and the birth anniversary of Lord Rama, Navami, with a six-hour multifaceted cultural program, emceed by Padma Sonti, and featuring more than 190 performers here at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, April 11.
Cultural coordinator Pranathi Kaligotla’s welcome address was followed by young Varun Vasireddy’s “Prayers” to Rama and the song “Bhajare Raghuveeram” by Sri Vidya Ganaesh’s intergenerational group. Soumya Kumaran’s students danced “Achutam Keesavam” and “Garuda Gamana Rara.” Poonam Mahesh’s danced to Annamacharya, young Samanvitha Kaligotla to Thyagaraja. Akshitha Yenugula and Geethika Velaga sang A.R. Rehman’s famous “Chinni Chinni Aasa” song.
Students of Rajeswari Pariti’s Rajaveena School of Music rendered “Sri Ramadasu Keertanalu.” Sangeetha Rangala’s students performed a classical dance, and Vanitha Veeravalli’s performed “Maragata Manimaya.”
The Potluri brothers danced to “Cheliaya Cheliya” choreographed by Sushmita Kilaru. dressed as Lava and Kusa (Rama’s two sons), Harshith Venigalla and Vivek Yandamuri paid homage to oldie movie song “Devude Mechindi choreographed by Anusha Venigalla.
Children’s group “Tollywood Talukulu” danced to Telugu movie songs choreographed by Srilakshmi Duvvapu, as did young women Tanvi Lenkala and Ramitha Kotarkonda. Soumya Kumaran’s students danced to a classical “Thodaya Mangalam” followed by “Thillana” from students of Sushmita Arunkumar. Two more movie-based dances were choreographed by Sivaram Yerramati, Tarun Yendamuri and Anusha Venigalla. Group performance by Tollywood Tigers was choreographed by Srilakshmi Duvvapu.
Praveen Jaligama’s students evoked Lord Ganesh with a semi-classical vocal performance of “Eka Danthalaya.” Shreya Addanki sang from a recent Telugu movie hit. Musunuri sisters were acclaimed for their signature performance of classic Telugu hits. Ananda Dance Theater presented a popular “Okapari” Annamacharya composition in Mohiniyattam style.
Jayashree Tatavarthi directed a skit featuring 18 children interpreting “Bhakta Prahalada” replete with props. “Jaisri & Group” choreographed a mélange of popular songs on Lord Krishna executed in semi-classical style by four women. Pavani Koduri’s group performed a fusion dance. “Mokkajonna Thota” choreographed by Jyothi Vangara was a folk dance reminiscent of village India.
Students of Apuroopa Tipparaju rendered “Sway to the Rhythm of Gopala” in contemporary fusion dance. Written and directed by Srilakshmi Duvvapu “Taralu Digivachina Vela,” a skit on what might happen if Telugu movie stars auditioned for software jobs to take over the IT industry, was a veritable riot.
Students of Janaki Anandavalli Nair of Aananda Dance Theater presented “Mallari” and “Natesha Kauthuvam” in classical Kuchipudi style. Gopala Krishna Garimella brought the almost forgotten art Harikatha, melodious and rhythmic devotional storytelling interspersed with actual songs. Madhuri Hari’s karaoke performance of Telugu hit songs was well received. Laasya Maruvada’s tribute to the late Dr. D. Ramanaidu, scion of Telugu movie industry, featured a throwback performance of playful “Voni Merupulu.”
The traditional Ugadi feast, complete with Pachadi, was a mix of six basic tastes (shadruchulu): sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy and tangy to symbolize life as a mix of emotions. Dinner was catered by Schaumburg’s “Cool Mirchi.”