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INDIAN DANCE

 

KUCHIPUDI

 

This dance takes its name from the Kuchipudi village in Andhra Pradesh. From its origin, as far back as the 3rd century B.C., it has remained a continuous and living dance tradition of this region. For a long time, Kuchipudi was presented only at temples and that too only for annual festivals of certain temples in Andhra. It was actually a ritualistic performance full of religious fervor and devotion. Generated by the Bhakti cult, Kuchipudi has imbibed elements both from Bharatanatyam and folk forms. According to tradition, Kuchipudi dance was originally performed only by men who all belonged to the Brahmin community, known popularly as Bhagavathalu of Kuchipudi.

Their programmes were offerings to the deities and they never allowed women in their groups. Kuchipudi art was intended as a dance drama requiring a set of character and never as a mere dance by a soloist which is common in present times. This dance drama is sometimes known as Ata Bhagavatham. Renowned gurus like Vedantam Lakshminarayana, Chinta Krishna Murthy and Tadepalli Perayya enriched the dance form by bringing in women. Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam added several dance dramas and choreographed many solo performances, thus broadening the horizons of this dance form. Today Kuchipudi is considerably a different dance style and, in most cases, it is a solo performance done by female dancers.

Of course the main expressional numbers are somewhat the same like Jayadeva's Ashtapadi, Ramayana, Puranas, Krishna Leela Tarangini or Tyagaraja's compositions. In Bhama Kalapam, the most famous play in the Kuchipudi repertory, Satyabhama is the heroine who is deceived by her lover and dejected by his absence. Apart from Bhama Kalapam, the other famous dance dramas are Gollakalapam by Bhagavatha Ramayya, Prahlada Charitam by Tirumala Narayanacharyalu, Sashirekha Parinaya and others.

In a Kuchipudi performance, each principal character introduces itself on the stage with a daru. A daru is a small composition of dance and song specially designed for each character to help him or her reveal his or her identity and also to show the performer's skill in the art. The main Kuchipudi performance could include Rangapuja - the equivalent of an alarippu, with the directions, the stage, the audience and the teachers and elders propitiated; Kautvamu - jatis and lyrics in praise of a deity; Jatiswaram - pure dance set to musical syllables; Shabdamu - a lyrical piece in praise of god or royalty; Kirtanam - an expressional piece, generally composed by saint-poets; Ashtapadi - another expressional piece derived from Jayadeva's Geet Govinda and Shivalila Natyam - stories about the Lord of Dance in his various forms. Padam, Javali, Simhanandini, Shloka and Tillana may also feature.

But the highlight of a typical Kuchipudi performance is the Tarangam, where the dancer stands on the edge of a brass plate, balances a pot of water on her head and/or lighted diyas in her hands and moves through complex jatis. The music in Kuchipudi is classical Carnatic. The mridangam, violin and a clarinet are the common instruments employed as accompaniment.

Famous Exponents: Vempatti Satyanarayana, China Krishna Murthy, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Swapna Sundari, Radha and Raja Reddy, Vedamtam Satyam, Sitaramaiya and Sarla Kumari.  



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