Sarada Jammi always knew she wanted to be a dancer. She performed for the first time as an eight-year-old. Today, over thirty years later, Sarada has fulfilled her dream. Through dance, she has inspired many others follow theirs through her work as a performer, choreographer, community organizer and mentor.
Sarada was introduced to dance by Smt. Shantha Balagopalan in Dhanbad, India in 1976. In 1985, she moved to Madras, where she received training under Padmabhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam at the Kuchipudi Art Academy in the true gurukulam style, living in his home. In 1987 she moved to Kuchipudi Kalakshetra, Visakhapatnam, a branch of the Academy. After moving to Singapore, she returned to Kalakshetra yearly throughout the nineties for advanced training. In 2000, she spent a whole year honing proficiency in express ions, choreography, and theory at Kuchipudi Kalakshetra under Hari Rama Murthy and N. N. V. Satyabhanu, and worked towards translating the theory from Telugu, the vernacular, to English.
Sarada has taught in Richmond since 2002, letting students experience the Gurukulam learning style during summer sessions, which involves the students staying at the teacher’s house all day and learning while fostering a family-like community between the older and younger students, as well as allowing the students to be immersed in the dance. She taught students taking year-round classes 2 – 5 times weekly. During this time, she also reached out to the academic community, through events such lecture demonstrations at the University of Richmond and a one hour demonstration at the Richmond Montessori for first graders and kindergartners. Additionally, she worked with various local Indian cultural associations such as the Greater Richmond Telugu Association, Greater Richmond Tamil Sangam, Greater Richmond Bengali Association, Hindu Center of Virginia, and the Cultural Center of India. During the nineties, Sarada taught at the Nrithyalaya Aesthetics Society and worked for the Singaporean Ministry of Education, teaching at the Si Ling, North View, and Yishun primary schools.
Her students, whose ages range from five over forty, have performed widely, touring in India with students from Kuchipudi Kalakshetra as well as performing around Virginia and Maryland for various cultural events as well as for fundraising events such as the Virginia Dance Festival, which raises money for the Children’s Hospital. Several have performed their rangapravesam, professional debut, under her. Sarada has also collaborated with other local artists to provide live musical support for dance performances.
Sarada has choreographed dance items exploring various themes through Kuchipudi. Siddhendra Stuthi, an homage to the founder of Kuchipudi Siddhendra Yogi, literally portrayed the lyrics, had advanced rhythmic complexity, and culminated with the dancer performing on a brass plate, a unique characteristic of Kuchipudi. Kalika Stuthi concentrated on the metaphysical aspects of the lyrics and the dancer’s interpretation of the emotions of the song. Hanuman Chalisa was episodic choreography portraying Poet Tulsi Das’s best known work. Hari Hara Vinutha combined the basic steps and jathis of Kuchipudi with simple hand gestures and provided an introduction to rhythmic variation, while Murugan Krithi was an item praising Lord Karthikeyan.
Sarada has performed widely in Singapore, India and the United States. Today, Sarada teaches Kuchipudi classes
and classes on specialized topics such as talam, abhinaya, developing choreography and nattuvangam for interested dancers of all styles. She also conducts nattuvangam for dance performances with an orchestra of talented local musicians. Sarada continues to choreograph Kuchipudi items that feature complex rhythms and nuanced expressions, and explore philosophical themes. Simultaneously, as the chairperson of Sri Sai Narayana Organization, she organizes intimate concerts to encourage young students of Indian classical arts and to invite experienced musicians to share their art with the Richmond community.
Simply put, Sarada lives to share her passion for the arts.