Indian classical dance. Kuchipudi style.




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Indian Classical Dance

Today there are a great number of various dancing traditions in India among which the followingRavi and Shrividya Vempati are marked out:

 

1. Classical dances

2. Semi-classical dances

3. Folk dances

4. Pop dances

 

The classical dance forms which trace back their roots deep into the Past, into the times of ritual temple divine services undoubtedly arouse the greatest interest.

Altogether 7 of such forms are marked out:
 

1. Kuchipudi

2. Bharatanatyam

3. Kathak

4. Odissi

5. Kathakali

6. Manipuri

7. Mohiniattam
 

The three aspects - the Nritta, the Nritya and the Natya lay at the heart of each of these forms.

 

The Nritta is a rhythmic sequence that ends in either singing or in lyrics reciting.

The Nritya is a sum of rhythmic patterns each following a certain pantomimic interpretation (or abhinaya)

The Natya is a complete dance drama with a story-line and various characters.

 

Each dance form is a unique combination of these three aspects, each one possesses its own peculiarity, but Kuchipudi fully deserves its reputation of being the most beautiful and the most complex one among the above mentioned dance forms.

 

What is Kuchipudi? This is a unique charm that you get from subtle blending of unsurpassed technique with The Art of Drama that gets its inspiration in scriptures and mythology. Energetic jumps and turns, brave and sense full play of eyes, the vortex of uncommonly quick and skilled motions followed by a cascade of statuesque poses, that what Kuchipudi is!

 

A Kuchipudi dancer is required to possess not only perfect calisthenics but also perfect plasticity and developed sense of rhythm, be competent in mudras (hand-gestures with sacral meaning) and possess a thorough mastery of abhinaya (the art of pantomime). A combination of all these qualities in the presence of enormous inner energy and ability to instantly transform oneself into different characters allows the audience to perceive the dance art of Kuchipudi as light, igniting and bewitching act. Performing dances on the edges of a brass plate, executing complicated rhythmic patterns with dexterity, while sometimes also balancing a pot of water on the head is considered to be the highest level of mastery.

 

The Kuchipudi dance form developed in what is now known as the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the village Kuchelapuram on the bank of the river Krishna. According to a legend, sultan Mohamed Kuli Kutab-Shahs' elder nephew Abdul Tana-Shah was sent to the village Kuchipudi to supply it with water. A well was dug out by the order of Tana-Shah. The joy of the village dwellers knew no limits and in order to express their gratitude they organized a grand performance where they demonstrated their art of dancing. Being a great connoisseur of art, Abdul Tana-Shah was so impressed by the dance drama that he granted the village of Kuchipudi to the artists with the promise that they would continue the tradition of performing. From that day onwards this dance form became known as Kuchipudi.

 

But Kuchipudi provides to have been popular long before Tana-Shah.

 

Over 3000 years ago Bharata Muni the author of Natyashastra (a holy writ dedicated to the Art of Prabha RameshDrama) explained some aspects of dance referring to this particular dance form. Sculptural compositions undoubtedly belonging to the same tradition were found in ancient temples and Buddhist monasteries such as Nagarjunakonda, Amaravathi and Ghantsala.

 

Since the moment of its origin and up to the present day Kuchipudi has undergone multiple changes.

 

By its origin Kuchipudi was a dance drama where each character was given one and strictly assigned part, but now Kuchipudi is basically a solo dance form. Within one performance and often within one item on the programme a dancer transforms into several absolutely different characters.

 

In ancient times Kuchipudi could be performed only in temples, but nowadays performances can be set on stage as well as in the open air.

 

And, finally, the most important thing. Earlier Kuchipudi could be performed exclusively by menKuchipudi style and women were not permitted to perform this dance form because their beauty was believed to draw attention of spectators from the divine meaning of the drama. Moreover, men used to play all female parts and not only put on women's dress but also had to make themselves up as women. Changes touched Kuchipudi in 1950s when indeed a revolutionary event took place: women were at last permitted to dance!

 

In this Kuchipudi owes a debt to the Great Guru Vempati Chinna Satyama who besides all other things holds the merit in spreading this style beyond India frontiers.

 

And we, a studio of classical Indian dance "Ananda Tandava" being followers of the Great Master Vempati Chinna Satyama, are happy to continue the glorious Kuchipudi tradition in Russia.

 

 
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