HAMSAA AWARDEE , NRITYA RATNA
Kuchipudi dance performer, Guru, Exponent and Choreographer
Maddali Usha Gayatri was introduced to dance at the age of four as a child prodigy under the tutelage of Shri Dayal Saran, a disciple of world famous Dance Maestro, Uday Shankar. Initially she learnt dance forms like Kathak and Odissi and has finally settled for Kuchipudi Dance and became an artiste, par excellence.
Dr. Usha Gayatri underwent training under Guru Vedantam Jagannadha Sarma
and inspired by internationally renowned Kuchipuidi Dance Gurus like Padmasri Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma, Padmabhushan Dr. Vempati China Satyam, Yakshagana from Sri Vedantam Prahlada Sarma; specialized training in Nattuvangam under the famous Guru Smt. Kamala Rani of Kalakshetra and special expertise in Padams under renowned exponent Padmasri Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna.
Smt Usha Gayatri studied for Master’s Degree in Performing Arts at the Hyderabad Central University in 1988 and secured First Class. She has done Doctoral research on “The evolution of the character of Satyabhama from the Telugu literature to the art of dance in Andhra Pradesh”, and obtained Doctorate (Ph.D.) from PS Telugu University. Hyderabad and the thesis has been published.
Dr.Usha Gayatri served for 23 years in Punjab National Bank, but her passion for Kuchipudi made her take early voluntary retirement to devote fully to Kuchipudi dance.
As a well trained and talented artiste, Dr. Usha Gayatri has given hundreds of performances of solos and ballets for more than four decades in different National Kuchipudi Dance Festivals in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Tirupati, organized by State Cultural Affairs Department, Sangeeta Nataka Academy, South Zone Cultural Centre, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams etc. Her solo programme and dance ballets were telecasted on the national Doordarshan from New Delhi , from regional channels and also abroad.
She is a much sought after performer across the globe. She gave concerts since 1987 extensively in USA and UK on the invitation of global organizations like America Telugu Association, Telugu Association of North America and European Telugu Association. She was sent by A.P. Government for performances in Mauritius in 1997 for Golden Jubilee of Indian Independence in the distinguished presence of the President of Mauritius and on the Mauritius Television and in East Asian countries like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Srilanka and Bangkok.
An artiste of performing excellence and subject expertise, Dr. Usha Gayatri established, in 1983, “Nritya Kinnera” – a Kuchipudi Dance Training Institute at Hyderabad, where from fifty students performed Arangetram and turned out to be excellent artistes. Most of them are medical doctors, engineers and well placed professionals. Nritya Kinnera also organized dance programmes of upcoming Indian and NRI artistes. The Government of India has accorded salary grant to Nritya Kinnera for the past five years.
Smt. Usha Gayatri is an accomplished artiste, creative choreographer and innovative exponent of Kuchipudi dance. She choreographed a wide range of more than 200 solo items and 16 dance ballets on varied subjects of mythology, patriotism, history and social message. The Ballets include: Ma Telugu Talliki Mallepoo Danda, Swarnotsava Bharati; Vandemataram and Sankranti, the A.P.’s Harvest Festival.
Dance ballets like Amrapali, Alokaye Balakrishnam, Gitanjali (Poetry of Rabindranath Tagore) etc., choreographed and directed by Dr. Usha Gayatri were financially supported by Central Sangeeta Nataka Academy. The mythological themes carved out as musical ballets by Dr. Usha Gayatrui include Sivabhakta Markandeya; Rukmini Satya; Sri Alivelu Manga Charitam and Yasoda Krishna. An epitome of her choreographic skills is “Nrityam Darsayami” containing 72 special solo items viz., Padam, Jawali, Tarangam, Daruvu, Tillana, Ashtapadi, Sabdam etc. The programme was presented for 12 hours by 12 disciples, she herself conducting Nattuvangam continuously for 12 hours dedicating it to great maestreo Sri Vedantham Lakshminarayana Sastry garu.
An empanelled artiste of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi , in 1984, Dr.Usha Gayatri is a winner of titles, prestigious honors and awards. A few of them are: Nritya Ratna, Hamsa Award (State Government’s highest honour) in 2001and Pratibha Puraskaram in 2004 from PS Telugu University . She was thrice honoured as the Best Dancer by the European Telugu Association, UK in 1987 and 2003 and during the 600th Birth Anniversary of Annamacharya in 2007. She was also honoured at New York Ganapati Temple in 2008 as Best Dance Guru. She was conferred Best Dancer/Natya Guru Award by Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Sri N. Chandrababu Naidu in 2009. She was also felicitated by the former Prime Minister, Sri P. V. Narasimha Rao, the President of Mauritius and the mayor of UK etc, besides myriad cultural organizations in India and abroad.
The ICCR,Govt. Of India has recently sent Smt.Gayatri to participate in International Kuchipudi dance festival organised in U.K. and Europe. All the performances were well received and appreciated.
Smt. Usha Gayatri is an able organizer and judge. She was often invited as judge and examiner for University examinations, Doordarshan and other TV channels, classical dance competitions, scholarships, etc. She was an Adjunct Faculty for Rajiv Gandhi University, judge for CCRT-HRD (Govt. of India) etc. With the support of Central Sangeet Nataka
Academy, she organized a Special Seminar on the three regional styles of “Kalapam” wherein eminent scholars and performers took part and enlightened the audience on the great Kuchipudi dance styles.