Smt Padma Denduluri
Andhranattyam Exponent - Guru
Smt. Padma Denduluri was born in Hubli, in the South Indian state of Karnataka. She began her dance training in Andhranatyam at the age of nine from Guru Padmasri Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna garu and Sangeeta Nataka academy awardee, Guru Sri. Kala Krishna garu. She performed her Aarangetram (Ranga Pravesham) at the age of twelve. She won many competitions at the district, state and national level in India. In 1984, at the age of fourteen, Padma became an ‘A’ grade artist in Doordarshan, and participated in several television programmes through solo, group and ballet performances over the following years.
In a career spanning more than forty years, she has given hundreds of performances for an international audience across three continents. She was a member of the official cultural delegations of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, India, to cultural festivals across the country and abroad, including TANA Conferences and World Telugu Conferences.
Smt. Padma developed her own unique dance style through years of experience and numerous performances, which truly and beautifully demonstrates the grace, agility, and soulfulness of Andhra Natyam. To learn the intricacies of facial expressions and lyrical interpretation, Padma learned the art of Abhinaya from ‘Aadhyatma Ramayanam’ expert and exponent, Smt. Saride Manikyamma garu. Her performance is a skillful presentation of Abhinayamu (emotional and spiritual interpretation of lyrics, demonstration of expressions and feel of the performance) and swift, rhythmic footwork.
Her vast repertoire includes Bhaama Kalaapam, Varnamu, Thillana, Keerthanalu and Krithulu, Jaavali, Darbar dance, Mirabai narratives ballets. In the past decade, she has focused on developing narrative ballets in Andhra Natyam format with themes ranging from spiritual performances to mythological tales.
A passionate educator, Smt. Padma Mohan has trained hundreds of students in Andhra Natyam. With an interest in propagating Andhra Natyam and one of her oldest friends and Andhra Natyam performer, Smt. Karnati Navatha co-founded “Swaranartana,” a Classical Dance, Music, and Yoga school in Hyderabad, India, in 2015. In 2009, along with her husband, Sri Denduluri Nalini Mohan, Smt. Padma co-founded the Denduluri Foundation to provide training in cultural and educational activities and enable access to arts for the younger generations.
The main objective of Swaranatana is to provide rigorous and structured training in Andhra Natyam to interested individuals and train future teachers. To make Andhra Natyam more widely accessible, Swaranartana offers programs at subsidized costs and waived fees. As such, Smt. Padma has been collating theoretical aspects, lost songs, traditional harmonies, and Andhra Natyam's unique footwork to compile a comprehensive record of the dance form.
To revive, promote and create awareness on the temple dance form that is Andhra Natyam, the Denduluri Foundation and Swaranartana co-produced a series of documentaries. Along with Smt. Karnati Navatha, Smt Padma spent over one and a half years conceptualizing the first-of-its-kind documentary illustrating the evolution, nomenclature, and traditions of Andhra Natyam. The intricacies and influences of the three distinctive dance styles: Aradhana, Aasthana, and Parijatha Nrithyas, which together constitute the Andhra Natyam dance form, are gracefully and clearly introduced through the pieces in the documentary. This comprehensive documentary received critical acclaim and helped shine the public and media spotlight on Andhra Natyam. It was launched in 2015 by Sri Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Union Minister for Urban Development & Parliamentary Affairs, Sri Kamineni Srinivas, Hon’ble Minister for Health, Govt A.P., Sri K.V. Ramanachary IAS (Retd) Advisor to Govt of Telangana State, and Guru Sri. Kalakrishna.
Since this first documentary in 2015, Swarnartana, led by Smt, Padma has envisioned, produced, performed, and made available over eight different pieces in the Andhra Natyam style of performance. Sri. Guru Kala Krishna garu enabled these visions into reality by choreographing the lyrical songs and mythological themes into unique, stylistically elaborate, true Andhra Natyam performances. These choreographies capture the classical and historical attributes of the dance form and provide a visual illustration of the dance form’s transformation and development with the times.
A series of these documentaries are available and constantly updated on Swarnartana’s YouTube channel for everyone to watch, access, and learn. Many of these pieces have been picked utilized by media outlets and art enthusiasts to demonstrate Andhra Natyam and the importance of Indian classical arts, particularly during religious festivals, social gatherings, and spiritual events.
Smt. Padma’s primary motivation in devising these documentaries is to help create Andhra Natyam's awareness as a classical dance form to a wider public audience. The online presence endeavors to elaborate on the purpose and inspiration behind Indian classical dance, demonstrate the unique aspects of the footwork, rhythm, and flow of Andhra Natyam, and revive traditional pieces lost to time.
The eminent Guru Padmasri Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna Garu has accomplished an enormous task in naming, reviving, and propagating Andhra Natyam. As one of his direct and early disciples, Smt Padma has constantly strived towards ensuring the glory and relevance of this art form. Smt. The Padma regards that a true tribute to her teachers and Andhra Natyam's exponents is through ensuring the propagation, access, and development of this rich dance form. To fulfill a lasting tradition in Andhra Natyam and accomplish a rare feat left unfinished for over three decades, Smt. Padma led a team of nine experienced Andhranataym dancers from across India and brought them together on one stage to enable four consecutive performances of “Navajanardhanam and Nava stayabhamalu.”
Since 2014, Swaranartana, led by Smt. Padma has been working towards obtaining official recognition for Andhra Natyam by the Indian Central Government. This recognition would enable young students of the dance form to obtain financial support and official recognition, which would be essential in bringing Andhra Natyam to future generations and ensuring a continued tradition of this incredible art form. Smt. Padma is constantly inspired and driven by her dream to ensure that the cultural heritage and creative identity of Andhra Natyam are captured, preserved, and passed along to future generations.
A few selected performances & awarded titles of Smt. Padma:
All India Dance Festival, New Delhi, 1984-85
Festival of dances, Bangalore & Chennai, 1986-88
Programs under TANA, USA, 1987-88
Programs in the United Kingdom, 1988-89
All India Forest Sports Meet, and several programs, Hyderabad, 1984-1993
All India dance festival, Mumbai, 2009
World Telugu Conference, Mauritius, 2010
All India dance festival by Mumbai Telugu Association, 2011
Navajanardhana Parijatam by Nava Satyabhamalu in temples of Andhra Pradesh, 2012
Smt. Padma Mohan & group, performed in the government-sponsored Godavari Pushkaramas, July 2015
“Nrityamayi” in 1990
“Natyamayuri” and “Abhinaya Padmam” by reputed cultural organizations
Ugadi Puraskaram given by Vamsee organisation in 2011
“Keerthi Puraskaram” by Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad in 2014
Smt. Padma has two daughters, Akhila and Amrutha, who are also trained in Andhra Natyam. Not only was Smt. Padma, their first dance teacher, continues to enable their training and mentorship. Akhila and Amrutha started learning Andhra Natyam from Guru Sri Kala Krishna garu from the age of five and have continued their training and tutelage for over two decades. Akhila and Amrutha performed their Aarangetram in 2002. Both of them participate in Andhra Natyam documentaries, solo and stage performances, along with their mother and Guru Sri Kala Krishna Garu. They have helped cofound the Swaranartana dance, music, and yoga academy in 2015. Akhila provides support with conceptual design and thematic development of Andhra Natyam dance documentaries. Amrutha helps manage the promotion and online presence of Swaranartana and Andhra Natyam documentaries. Akhila currently resides in Cambridge, UK, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Cambridge. Amrutha currently resides in Boston, USA, and is pursuing a Master's in Public Health at Harvard University.
Akhila was also briefly trained in Kuchipudi and Kathak dance forms and is interested in exploring and understanding various Indian classical dance forms' distinctive features. She is keen on promoting Andhra Natyam through both traditional choreographies and creative abstract pieces. A few of her performances include participating in the Godavari Pushkaralu in 2015, the Aadhyatma Ramayanam documentary, and spiritual-themed solo pieces.