Meet M.V.N.S Durga, a 23-year-old Kuchipudi dancer, who has three Guinness World Records to her name, and won several awards and recognitions from various art societies. She is a trained Kuchipudi dancer and has staged more than 700 performances across the country and abroad. She has been crowned with awards such as ‘Natya Chudamani’, ‘Telugu Natya Deepthi’ and stood first at the Canada Dance Festival-2020 in Kuchipudi dance among participants from 22 countries.
According to her: “Receiving an award from Vedantam Radheshyam Kuchipudi dance master for my dance performance in Mumbai was the best moment in my life.” Hailing from an orthodox Brahmin family, Durga got the dancing bug from her mother.”
She says, “As a child, I used to dance to any song. Seeing me attracted to dance, my mother joined me at a classical dance school. Initially, she faced stiff opposition from her father and relatives. My relatives from my father’s family said that Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam require a lot of money. Later, after I won many awards for my stage performances at various dance festivals, they fell silent,” Durga elaborated, explaining her journey into dance.
She started learning Kuchipudi in SV Music and Dance College under Dr. S. Usha Rani when she was in 6th standard. Later, she got a Diploma in Kuchipudi from the academy.
Beyond caste, gender & religion
Her passion towards Kuchipudi made her work relentlessly — she studied during the day and attended dance classes in the evenings. With an objective to teach Kuchipudi to children passionate about classical dance forms, she started ‘Nataraja Nrithyalaya’ in 2018 to train the children in classical dance. But since Covid-19 outbreak, she has been conducting virtual dance classes for her students.
She says: “Caste, religion and gender should not be a barrier for those who are passionate about classical dance. Of late, a notion has developed in the society that men who pursue a career in classical dance are often linked with the LGBTs. When I went to Kuchipudi village in Krishna district, I came across many male dance masters. But, that myth needs to break and we need to stop stereotyping male dancers that way.”
Durga choreographed albums produced by SVBC such as Nitya Sankeerthanam, Brahmanda Nayakuni Brahmotsavam, Vande Vinayakam and also choreographed the tribute video of SPB Dharmodhakam, produced by Madhura Productions.