Dancers' Paradise



This classical art form derives its name from the village of Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh and is an embodiment of Telugu culture in its variety and richness. Nimble movements and the chiseled perfection of ancient Hindu temple carvings are the forte of the Kuchipudi style of dancing. About 500 years ago, some Brahmin families in the Telugu speaking areas created a new form of dance drama called Bhagavata Mela or Natya Mela. Although this new style was famous, it remained formless until Siddhendra Yogi in the 16-17th gave it some shape and brought glory. He wrote masterpieces like 'Bhama Kalapam' and also initiated the male members of his community into dance.

The credit of introducing the concept of solo dance by female artistes would no doubt go to Guru Vedantam Laxminarayana Sastri (1875 - 1957). Kuchipudi has also imbibed the abhinaya numbers from the Andhra 'Nattuvamela' traditions, introducing rich expressions. It is the scintillating rhythm and fluid style that captivate the audience’s interest.

The Kuchipudi repertoire today includes songs from Usha Parinayam, Prahlada Natakam, Golla Kalapam, besides Ashtapadis, Sabdams, Padams, Varnams and Tillanas. Narayana Teertha’s Tarangam ‘Bala Gopalam' remains the main attraction of most Kuchipudi recitals and includes an intricate dance on a brass plate.

The chief exponents of this art form today are Vempatti Chinna Satyam, Shoba Naidu, Kanaka Durga, the dancing couple, Narasimhachari and Vasantalakshmi, Shoba Natarajan, Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, Uma Muralikrishna and so on.

To be continued

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