Sasikala Penumarthi

Popularly known as 'Padmavathi' in Srinivasa Kalyanam to the art lovers in the United States, Sasikala has found a unique place as a vigorous and vivacious exponent of Padma Bhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam's style of Kuchipudi dance. Her art is an eloquent tribute to the impact of her great Guru on her vision and sensibility. Endowed with a rare blend of intuition and intellect, she has evolved over the years an excellent command over the technique.

Sasikala was introduced to dramas as a participant in the invocation dance, when her Guru produced Chandalika for the first time in 1976. Since then she has performed many roles in solo as well as group items. As Sri Lakshmi and Padmavathi in Srinivasa Kalyanam, Satyabhama in Sri Krishna Parijatham, as Chandalika in Chandalika, Dakshayani in Hara Vilasam, Vishwa Mohini in Ksheera Sagara Madhanam, Ahalya in Ramayanam, Parvathi in Ardha Nareeswara, she has proven herself adept in the art of dance and drama.

Unhurried and dignified, controlled empathy animates her grand style and makes her performances especially meaningful. She has toured all over India, United States in 1982, 1984, 1994, and 1998, USSR in 1987, Europe in 1989 and performed as the leading artist in many of Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam's ballets. In March 1993, she performed at the prestigious Khajuraho dance festival following an invitation from the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad. Setting high standards of accomplishment, she is propagating Kuchipudi dance through her own performances and teaching several promising students in the United States.

In 1993, she took part in several performances of Sri Krishna Parijatham in this country in the role of Satyabhama. In April 1994, she performed her major production Chandalika, involving new talent all trained by her. During August to November 1994, she toured all over the United States and Canada with her Guru and his troupe for four months to perform Ksheera Sagara Madhanam, Hara Vilasam and Ramayanam. She toured again with her Guru in 1998 to perform in Ardha Nareeswara, Sakuntalam, and Srinivasa Kalyanam.

In 1996, Sasikala presented another student scholarship fundraiser, Rukmini Kalyanam, at the Georgia Tech Theater for the Arts, Atlanta. This was her second major production involving herself and her students. She presented repeat performances of this dance drama in Jacksonville, FL, Columbia, SC and Augusta, GA in 1997-98.

In order to continue the pursuit and propagate the art into the mainstream, Sasikala founded the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance, a non-profit organization in 1997. Most recently, she received the Master Artist award from the Georgia Arts Council and the National Foundation for the Advancement of Arts. Sasikala serves as an Artist Affiliate at Emory University where she is pursuing her Academic interests. She teaches credit courses in Kuchipudi to the students of Dance Department and Asian Studies Program, and works with the teaching faculty in presenting Lectures and Demonstrations on Indian Dance, Religion and Culture. Sasikala also conducted lecture demonstrations on Kuchipudi upon invitation from the Georgia State University, Macon State College and University of Georgia at Athens. Sasikala organizes and produces dance ballets involving experts from the field and her own students with live orchestra. Kirataarjuneeyam in November 2000, Saptapadi in December 2001, Srinivasa Kalyanam in January 2003, Sivoham in December 2003, Chandalika in July 2005 to name a few, performing, promoting and continuously training the students for graduation.

Sasikala is on the Georgia Arts Council State Roster and Young Audiences, Atlanta Roster. She works with Arts organizations associated with Georgia Council for the Arts to promote and propagate the Art of Kuchipudi Dance.