As part of the international webinar series on Different facets of Sankaradeva Studies, organized by Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva, Geetha Sivangala Thandi, a Kuchipudi dance practitioner, California, USA delivered lecture on “Comparison between Sattriya dance and Kuchipudi dance” on 9th January, 2022. It was moderated by Dr. Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti, author and scholar of Sankari culture, who is also President of the Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva.
Geetha Sivangala Thandi in her lecture compared two classical dance forms of India, Kuchipudi and Sattrīyā, belonging to Andhra and Assam regions, respectively. The context selected was the enactment of the play Pārijāta Haraṇa. It is performed as Śrī Kṛiṣṇa Pārijātaṁ in Kuchipudi and Pārijāt Haraṇ in Sattrīyā. Comparison of the two dance forms was done by her based on the eleven aspects of Nāṭya Śāstra, with special focus on Caturvidha Abhinaya. Comparison was also done on aspects such as story, script, and characters. It was observed that though the thematic content is the same, that is the propitiation of lord Kṛiṣhṇa, the approach taken in Kuchipudi is Madhura Bhakti and in Sattrīyā is Dāsya Bhakti. The artistic expressions and treatment are diverse and distinctly regional. Apart from spatial and temporal, the other reasons for this distinction are observed to be socio-political and economic. The popularity of these dance dramas is a pointer to the twin objectives of dance dramas - spiritual awakening and entertainment.
Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti gave a brief idea of both the dance forms in his introductory comments. Dr Borkakoti said that there are some significant similarities between Sattriya dance and Kuchipudi dance. They both belong to devotional genres. Earlier female roles were played by male dancers in both. But there are also some differences like worship of Shakti in Kuchipudi dance, which is not seen in Sattriya dance. Srimanta Sankaradeva created his own music for the dance form, which is not the case in Kuchipudi dance. Dr Borkakoti said there was a necessity for more such comparative studies, especially from practitioners with academic orientation.
There was interaction with the audience comprising of both academicians and practitioners. Dr Ratul Chandra Bora from Jorhat, Seema Savita Das from Nagaon and Rupam Jyoti Bora from Guwahati gave their observations on the lecture. They appreciated Geetha Sivangala Thandi for highlighting the distinctive features of the two classical dance forms. Earlier Mridu Moucham Bora, Secretary of Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva, welcomed Geetha Sivangala Thandi. It may be noted that the Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva is known for reviving Sankari crafts like manuscript painting and preparing Aharya of Ankiya Bhaona. It runs a website www.sankaradeva.com about Sankaradeva’s legacy. It also organised a conference in Bargeet with maestros some years ago to prevent distortion in this musical form.