Balakka: Dancing with Tradition - Documentary Film

Balakka explores the art of Kuchipudi: a South Indian classical dance tradition which is transforming in the global era with women taking a leading role.
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Dulam Satyanarayana
1,931 Facebook Friends
Film
Phoenix, Arizona
United States
6 Team Members

Namaste! My name is Dulam Satyanarayana. I am the Director and Producer of the feature length documentary film BALAKKA: Dancing with Tradition.

Thank you very much for all your support and contributions. With this initial campaign we could able to raise few funds to kick start the project again. With this inspiration, we are working on other modes of funding to complete this project. So please contact at dsnfilms@gmail.com for further details and to support or to make contributions!

For several centuries since its inception, Kuchipudi, a South Indian classical dance form, was originally a tradition in which only men would enact female roles. This was the subject of my previous documentary, I am Satyabhama. In contemporary times the tradition has transformed from exclusively male performers to a proliferation of female dancers. The dance’s revival started, as with most of the other Indian classical dances, in the late 1950s following India’s independence.

I was drawn to this changing aspect of tradition, and it led me to document the life of the artist, the subject of this film. During promotion of my last documentary, I am Satyabhama, I met Mrs.Bala Kondala Rao (Balakka), one of the foremost exponents of Kuchipudi . Her story sheds new light on the relevance of dance tradition in the modern world, as well as the important role that women are playing in the preservation of Indian art and culture. Balakka’s life, from a disciple, to a performer, to one of Kuchipudi’s leading Gurus today, her charisma, as well as her deep insights into the art, inspired me to undertake this project.

“She is the first and foremost in transforming stones to statues”  - Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam

Mrs.Bala Kondala Rao, who is fondly known as Balakka in the Kuchipudi world, is one of the foremost exponents of Kuchipudi. At the age of 8, her life started as a disciple of the illustrious late Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam, who has been credited with the revival of Kuchipudi in the modern age. She grew up as a member of his household and went on to teach at his school for nearly 30 years. She has toured the world giving dance performances. She is the founder and director of ‘Kuchipudi Kala Kendram’ a dance school based in Visakhapatnam in India. She has students from wide and far, from many countries like USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Russia and Nepal. She choreographed over 80 solo items and 8 dance ballets so far. Her family comprising two sons and daughter-in-law continue to propagate her legacy and are stay dedicated to this art form.

For her, dance is not just an activity but a way of life. It is the very lens through which she sees the world. Balakka shares her unique insight into the power of art, and how it enhances life. Balakka believes that Kuchipudi dance is a yoga (union) which encompasses all art forms - literature, music, sculpture, spirituality, and every other imaginable facet of life. Through dance, she strives for her choreographs to reflect this inner search. This film will also feature excerpts from the brand new ballet choreographed by Balakka and its premiere in the United States.

Kuchipudi art, with its blend of classical music and dance, has a well-defined grammar that covers a myriad of human expressions.

In late 2013, I started developing the idea for this project with input from my executive Producer Dr.Roxanne Kamayani Gupta and Line Producer Sri Kesava Prasad. In December 2013, with minimal crew and limited budget, we completed the shoot for promo video (above) in India to estimate the project scale and to create a visual style of the film. By the end of February 2014, we had completed the research and pre-production phases, and, we are raising funds to begin the production phase. We aim to release the documentary by mid June 2014.

This documentary will illuminate the life of an artist from the 1960s to the present day and will, by example, influence and inspire future generations of dancers, lovers of dance, and those following any artistic path. The power of this art lies in its ability to integrate the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of life. This endeavor can also pave the way for academic interest among dance practitioners to generate new work and carry forward the legacy of this rich tradition. Above all, it acts as an inspiring tool to empower women in a male dominant society.

Like my previous documentaries, I am hoping to create a significant impact among the target audience with this project too.

Soon after the completion of the project, the filmmaker and the artist will be on a screening tour in USA, UK and India to premiere this film along with brand new dance ballet, choreographed by Balakka. The film will be sent to international film and dance festivals, at universities and also cultural centers.

In order to complete the documentary, Balakka: Dancing with Tradition by June 2014, we will need to raise a minimum of $12,300 towards the costs of Production, Post Production and Outreach.

We feel that this film will be a perfect blend of culture and women’s identity. We welcome your crucial participation in the making  of this unique documentary. 

We have many things to offer as our appreciation for contributions.      

  • Autographed Thank You Postcard

  • Digital Download of the Film 

  • DVD with Special Features

  • 1 Hour Skype Q&A with Filmmaker and Artist

  • VIP Passes to Film Premiere Function & Dance Ballet Show

  • Special Thanks Credit

  • Associate Producer Credit

  • Executive Producer Credit

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Born in a small town, Mancherial, in India, raised by a single mother, I come from a humble background. I never imagined I would become a filmmaker until I was 20.  During that time, I had a chance to see some masterpieces of world cinema. I was so excited by those films. I thought I would do something like that. I realized I wanted to be a director. In the time that followed, I spent most of my time analyzing films and studying the minds of great filmmakers. To me, cinema became a medium that could mobilize people into making a difference.

And then, without a background in formal film-making, I started my career as a documentary filmmaker. I was only 23. Within a short span of time I could make films on topics ranging from social issues to arts and culture. My films were appreciated widely and helped raised awareness that, in turn, made a difference within society. Following these achievements, in 2011 the US Department of State selected me for the exchange scholarship program (CCIP) to study film-making at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. I traveled to countries like the USA, Iran and Pakistan as an Indian delegate and panelist.

Dreadful fate, I am Satyabhama and My Afghanistan are some of my projects. My recent film, I am Satyabhama, was screened at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Emory University in Atlanta, and Middlebury College, in Vermont. I am currently based in Phoenix, Arizona, pursuing my film major at Scottsdale Community College

Please spread the word to your friends and family by word of mouth,           social networking, or random phone calls. 
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$1,036USD
raised in 21 days
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$12,300 USD goal
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This campaign ended on March 21, 2014
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  • $10USD
    Autographed Thank You Postcard

    Thank you note on an autographed postcard with beautiful design of the film poster We'll publicly recognize you for making this contribution on our Facebook page

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $25USD
    Digital Download of the Film +

    You'll get an exclusive digital download of the film after the official premiere Thank you note on an autographed postcard with beautiful design of the film poster We'll publicly recognize you for making this contribution on our Facebook page

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • $100USD
    DVD with Special Features +

    DVD of the film with Special features - Making of the Documentary 1 VIP pass to the premiere function and a Live Dance Ballet Show 1 Hour Skype Q&A with Filmmaker and Artist You'll get an exclusive digital download of the film after the official premiere Thank you note on an autographed postcard with beautiful design of the film poster We'll publicly recognize you for making this contribution on our Facebook page

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • $500USD
    Special Thanks Credit +

    A Special Thanks credit in the film 5 copies of DVD of the film with Special features - Making of the Documentary 5 VIP passes to the premiere function and a live dance ballet show 1 Hour Skype Q&A with Filmmaker and Artist You'll get an exclusive digital download of the film after the official premiere Thank you note on an autographed postcard with beautiful design of the film poster We'll publicly recognize you for making this contribution on our Facebook page

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • $1,000USD
    Associate Producer Credit +

    Associate Producer Credit in the film Publicity in Media Coverage 10 VIP passes to the premiere function and a live dance ballet show 10 copies of DVD of the film with Special features - Making of the Documentary 1 Hour Skype Q&A with Filmmaker and Artist You'll get an exclusive digital download of the film after the official premiere Thank you note on an autographed postcard with beautiful design of the film poster.

    0 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • $3,000USD
    Executive Producer Credit +

    Executive Producer Credit in the film Publicity in Media Coverage 30 VIP passes to the screening event and a live dance ballet show 30 copies of DVD of the film with Special features - Making of the Documentary 1 Hour Skype Q&A with Filmmaker and Artist You'll get an exclusive digital download of the film after the official premiere Thank you note on an autographed postcard with beautiful design of the film poster.

    0 out of 1 claimed
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