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Updated: October 16, 2009 15:12 IST

Vempati, the visionary

Dr. Sreedhar V. Potarazu
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Vempati Chinna Satyam . Photo: Vijaya Bhaskar
The Hindu Vempati Chinna Satyam . Photo: Vijaya Bhaskar

Kuchipudi exponent Vempati Chinna Sathyam turns 80 this year. Dr. Sreedhar V. Potarazu of Washington DC writes this tribute

Eight decades ago, a legend was born in Andhra, who would change our perspective and perception of dance as an art - Guru Vemapti Chinna Satyam. Thousand of years ago in a tiny village in Andhra, Kuchipudi, a dance form was created by the Saint Siddendhra Yogi.The trajectory of Kuchipudi beyond the confines of the village to stages across the world is the work of only one man- Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam.

Recognising the limitations of his native surroundings, Vempati moved to Chennai to establish a base and ultimately, the Kuchipudi Art Academy. From this platform, he has expanded the reach of Kuchipudi as an international art form and today it is performed in such places as the Kennedy Centre, the U.S. Since the early 1960s he has trained many of the world's top dancers and has attracted students from all over the world. The electrifying spirit of the great master has been in his ability to bring to life his vision of divinity and devotion through his choreography and artistic genius. It is this genius that has been at the core of his productions. Over the past many years, I have had the privilege of being in the company of this great master, and even helped facilitate his eye surgery in the U.S. Soon after his surgery, he commented to me about his gratefulness to me for helping restore his vision. I had no words and paused in silence.

The truth of the matter is that the master's vision was never lost. His vision for life and expression through dance is the gift he has given usWhat truly resides in the minds of genius is a divine vision that exceeds the capability of any mortal and expresses itself in forms that leave us in wonderment. It is this vision that is the common thread that runs through the


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