Indian classical dance. Kuchipudi style.

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Eleonora Levanskaya

Let me introduce myself. My name is Eleonora and at the present I am the artistic director of the studio of classic Indian dance "ANANDA TANDAVA".Eleonora Levanskaya

I am often asked what my passion for Indian and more than that temple (!) dance started with and how it eventually resulted in the foundation of the studio. As this is a long story to tell, I finally made up my mind to write about it on our web site so that with a clear conscience refer all those interested to the web page. So, let's start!

Since I was a child I have been interested in everything that dealt with India. Therefore no wonder that at school I went into in-depth study of culture, philosophy and religion of this extremely unordinary country. However, the idea to go in for Indian dances sprung up quite unexpectedly. No doubt that the Indian movies which are so dear to our hearts, with their fiery singing and dancing, played the major role in this process. But then, in that far year of 1992 I could not even assume how strongly this idea would turn my life over later on, and that dancing would become the walk of my life.

It took me several years to find a teacher. At that time the interest in oriental cultures was only starting to arouse and classes in Indian dances were a thing of rare occurrence. But once while talking casually to a university teacher (at that time I was at the Bauman University) I mentioned my dream to learn to dance Indian dances and he suggested that I turn to the Cultural Center at The Embassy of India in Moscow. Since that moment my dream started to come true.

It took me three years to study the northern style of Kathak. By the end of the second year of learning I had already taken part in concerts and even was one of the first to go on tour organized by the Javaharlal Neru Cultural Center.

But strangely enough, in spite of the good progress in learning I was gradually gripped by the feeling of incomprehensible inner dissatisfaction. Everything looked all right, but still something was wrong. When I dreamed of learning the Indian dance I imagined it as a vortex, a hurricane, a cascade of rapid statuesque poses, jumps and turns alternating each other, but it turned out there was nothing of the kind (except pirouettes) in the rather soft but at the same time graceful style of Kathak.

And I decided to resume my searches. At first my choice fell upon the southern Indian style Bharatnatyam. It took me about a year to realize that Bharatnatyam was closer to what my soul desired but still not exactly. Opposite to Kathak this style appeared to be too jerky and stiff but on the other hand it had statuesque poses and clear patterns of arms and feet.

And when I almost lost any hope to find what was associated with the words "Indian dance" in my imagination, I attended a pilot class in the Kuchipudi style. The idea of what is Kuchipudi was something like this: "fast and cheerful Bharatnatyam". But even the first move that I saw struck me like a lightning: here it is! Miracle! I have found it!

Kuchipudi in some unthinkable way united the softness and grace of Kathak, the statuesque poses and clear rhythm of Bharatnatyam, its own peculiar quick jumps and rash turns, and added a new sounding to them.

So, all I had to do was to learn how to dance it. But it turned out to be not that simple. At first everything went great. I mastered the technique (steps and jatis) in six months! Taking into consideration that mastering technique takes on average 1,5 - 2 years and only after that the master starts to teach dance, that was the extraordinary case (I am boasting ). Nine months later I made my debut in the dancing program "The magic world of Kuchipudi" as a member of ensemble of classic Indian dance "ANJALI" under the direction of my first teacher Irina Strakhovenko.

However, after such an evident and brilliant beginning everything started to fall apart. Irina went to India for several years; the ensemble lost its leader and almost split-up. There left a group of enthusiasts (including me) who continued trainings independently to keep in shape and not to forget all we had learnt. Some time after good fortune smiled at us: an Indian woman and Kuchipudi dancer Padma Puttu took us under her wing. Intensive daily trainings began. The future looked bright, the perspectives were wonderful. We made plans that Padma and we would form a new group, would tour in Russia and abroad. But alas, the plans were not meant to come true. A few months later Padma was suddenly recalled back to India. For us it was the beginning of a new era of independent trainings without hope to finish learning and further performing. But we did not give in and continued trainings.

Some time later we were invited to take part in the First Moscow Open Championship of Oriental Dances organized by the Moscow Dance Federation. I managed to win the second prize in nomination "Classic Indian Dance. Solo" among more than 10 nominees. Another month later we got the news that Vera Krishnaradj, a common acquaintance of ours, came back from India where she took a course in Madras at the Arts Academy under the direction of Vempati Chinna Satyam himself. That was a rare luck! I started to take private classes with Vera.

Later Vera organized "Natyalam" group and as a member of which I successfully toured within next following years. Then Vera again went to India. But by that time I myself had started to teach. Some time after a number of students increased and there appeared the opportunity to found my own studio of classic Indian dance "ANANDA TANDAVA" which is already 5 years old.

But the story does not end at this point! The studio develops, all the students (including me) continue perfect themselves in the mastery of dance, and quite naturally we all set new aims and tasks before us. But let the numerous photos and comments from the GALLERY and VIDEO section now tell you about our feverish activity.

Eleonora Levanskaya

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