Dance

Evolution of Kuchipudi

A scene from the ballet.  

With an aim to encourage young talent, Nadaprabha presented a Carnatic vocal concert by child prodigy K.S. Abhiram and a unique Kuchipudi ballet by Nritya Ravali at Ravindra Bharathi last week. The Kuchipudi narrated the story of how the dance form was born and groomed by many stalwarts. The event began with a vocal recital by 13-year-old Abhiram, disciple of Vyzarsu Balasubrahmanyam. The young singer is blessed with rich vocal culture that he displayed in saveri varnam and ‘Mahagaanapathim’ in Abhogi renditions. His ability to tackle raga and swara was revealed in the kriti ‘Gjnanamosagarada’ in Poovikalyani of Thyagaraja. After rendering ‘Rama Rama Yanarada’ Rangadasu kirtana in Sindhu Bhairavi, Abhiram chose to present the main number ‘Kaddanuvariki’ in Thodi in which raga and swara were presented extensively.

The major event of the evening was staging of Kuchipudi ballet titled ‘Siva Dhrumamu’ which denotes Lord Nataraja’s ankle bell. The belief is that one of the ankle bells slipped out, while Siva (played by Surendranath) was dancing with his consort Parvathi (played by Devi) and landed in Kuchipudi village leading to the birth of this art.

After a long time, we saw a traditional Sutradhar on stage (Kasi Viswanath), to introduce the ballet. From then on different characters came on to the stage, like Krishna (Dr. Nirmala) figuring in a couple of sequences; Satyabhama (D.V. Nagasai) presenting ‘Bhama Kalapam’ in the presence of Tanisha and the ruler, impressed by their performance, gifting land to Kuchipudi artistes were the sequences that depicted the early history of Kuchipudi. This was followed by a dance of Godadevi (Kiranmayi) with a different theme.

A sequence narrated how and why Thyagaraja (Kedaranath) was said to have promised that he would not use raga Anandabhairavi anymore, acceding to the request made by Kuchipudi artistes for they were dancing to compositions set in ragas such as ‘Madhuranagarilo’. This sequence, too, was dramatised. To establish what numbers the earlier dance gurus showcased, the team presented popular tarangam ‘Neelamegha Sareera’ of Narayana Teertha, coupled with a dance standing on brass plate. There was ‘Navarasa’ presentation woven around the character of Arjuna and they brought in Ashtavidha Nayika theme too. The songs for each of the nayika Avasthas were well written. Soujanya, Sumalatha, Pranavi, Rajyalakshmi, Sayivalli Nikhita and Amulya were other dancers in supporting roles. Girish and Praveen also figured as sutradhars in other themes.

The event was dedicated to the late Vempati Chinnasatyam. His picture often became the backdrop, besides other gurus from Ramayya to Vempati and present day artistes like Sobha Naidu. These dances were presented to pre-recorded music, with D.S.V. Sastry and Tejasvini providing vocals while the instrumental support came from Rajagopalachari on mridangam, Dinakar on violin, Murali on flute, Phani Narayana on veena and morsing and tabla by Jayakumarachari.

The narrative was written by Dandibhotla Venkata Narayana Murthy and choreography was by Maramalla Surendanath. Poornachander and his son Kishore created a matching stage design and special effects.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 9:38:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/evolution-of-kuchipudi/article6834770.ece

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