Backstage at the Utah Arts Festival 2023: Extending the dance spectrum: Devoncé; Lakshmi Parimala and Kuchipudi

Devoncé (June 23, 7:35 p.m., Festival Stage)

When Devan Kinnear (Devoncé) was younger, he thought that his entrance into the entertainment industry would be behind the scenes, such as directing and producing films.

But, as Kinnear explains in an interview with The Utah Review. “music was a huge outlet for me because I did not have the best upbringing as a child.” He immersed himself in the YouTube world at home in his basement, learning the songs of pop stars including Britney Spears and the choreography of Brian Friedman, who set movement not only for Spears but another beloved idol who would become the source of the portmanteau for Kinnear’s performing name — Beyoncé.

At Granger High School in West Valley City, he perfected his technique with the cheerleading squad and the competitive dance team. By the time he was a senior, Kinnear says that he had advanced to full performing mode.   


Kinnear studied live performances of the beloved Beyoncé for how they commanded and held their presence on stage. Likewise, he followed the stage work of other greats: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. Later, he would add Nicki Minaj, Kate Perry and Lady Gaga.

Devoncé became his nickname in high school but it was intended more for fun than as a serious stage persona. “I got the name in high school because everyone knew how much I loved Beyoncé.

The nickname would stick for good when he started training professionally at one of the numerous Salt Lake City dance studios (such as Millennium Dance Complex at Trolley Square) that have extended the community’s comprehensive spectrum of dance educational opportunities. 


Kinnear steadily built his network of dance contacts not only in Salt Lake City but also in Los Angeles. He would take master classes from the dancers for pop stars such as Ariana Grande. He continued to perfect other styles as well including precision drill and ballroom dance.

In 2017, Kinnear started performing at local clubs and took the stage at the Utah Pride Festival. From there, it has snowballed into many other shows. Joining Devoncé on the Festival Stage will be singer Esther Reina.

Lakshmi Parimala (June 24, 2:45 p.m., Garden Stage)

When not working as a software engineer, Lakshmi Parimala is perfecting her dance artistry in Kuchipudi, the oldest and one of India’s eight classical dance forms. It was named after the village in southern India, originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Practicing as a performer and teacher, Parimala was so committed to Kuchipudi that she pursued her master’s degree in performing arts, in addition to her outside career.

Lakshmi Parimala.

Parimala shares the background to Kuchipudi, which was a form of dance drama that used to be performed by male troupes. It follows the ancient Sanskrit text Natyashastra/ Bharathashastra, a foundational treatise on performing arts written by Bharathamuni. Essentially, it is a the seminal volume on the theory of expression, gestures, standing positions, and acting techniques in Kuchipudi.

Women became integral to sustaining this classical dance tradition, thanks to the scholarly contributions by Vedantam Lakshmi Narayan Shastry and Dr. Vempati Chinna Sathyam who helped and developed solo repertoire for Kuchipudi and passed it on to the next generations as guru (teacher), shishya (students) and parampara (the process of passing the dance form knowledge down through generations). For a video sample of this dance art, click this link.

The theme of Kuchipudi performances is mostly based on Hindu mythology, which integrates elements of Nritta (Pure dance), Nritya (expressional dance), and Natya (Drama).

Parimala has been an software engineer for ten years. In 2022, she moved to Salt Lake City with her husband. She also has performed at events such as the Utah Asian Festival.

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