part of the foot touch anything held scared.

Some critics misunderstood that Kuchipudi dance was an art developed from the earlier folk drama called Yakshagana. It is not correct. We don’t find the slightest trace of folk element in its features, either in diction or song or dance or abhinaya or gestures or footwork or expressions. Of course standards differ from time to time as a rule of natural and even from place to place and from one master to another. Yet the soul remains the same forever.

A folk dance is quite different from a classical dance. In any art section, folk is a degenerated from, having no set rules and regulations and what the uncultured and uncivilized rural folk adopt for the pleasure and pastime. A classical dance has a wonderful tradition, rules and regulations, and a code of conduct to follow strictly. Literally, Kuchipudi dance is a classic. Dance means ‘ Natya’ – broadly speaking. The word ‘Natya’ according to Bharatha Muni is applicable to dance-drama form, with characters, customs, classical music, abhinaya and dialogue where necessary. In respect, ‘Kuchipudi Natya’ can be acclaimed as one of the foremost classical dance in India. In ancient Indian, we had only this dance-drama. All the Sanskrit plays were produced on the lines of dance-dramas; only stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata were taken into consideration.

The music used in the Kuchipudi dance drama is strictly classical and the lyrics specially composed as poetry as its sublimes. The themes deriving from epics have a cleaning effect on the public. Natya in Bharata Natya Sastra, comprising synthesis of Angika, Vachika, Satvika and Aharya, is an essential feature of Kuchipudi. The Layaprakasam or Pravesika Daruvu is typical or Kuchipudi. The character introduces himself or herself, reveals his or her identity and announces the purpose of his or her coming.

The students are taught all the ‘Samyutha’ and ‘Asamyutha’ Hasthas, with the 108 Karanas, Charis, and mandalas-movements of head, neck, eyes and eyebrows, according to the Natya Sastra. The student has to learn the Natya and Nayika styles completely. Angika, Vachika, Satvika and Aharya- the four types of actions are essential. Moreover, the student must be able to sing and present the meaning by Hastha-Mudras; express bhaava through his eye and rhythm by means of his footwork. It takes at least 10 years for an ordinary student to master this art.

There are some twenty ‘Sabdams’ in Kuchipudi system and Jatis are to be added to the list, to wipe off the dullness in performing a dance. New compositions are added now and then, whenever the need arises.In addition to their dance drama and sabdams, the Kuchipudi dancers dance to the dance to the songs of Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam, to the Tarangams of Narayana Teertha and to the Padamas of Kshetrayya, They even perform to the slokas of Lilasuka Sri Krisjna Karnamritham. Whenever a dancer performs the ‘Bala Gopala Tarangam’ he executes his steps with a pot of water on the head, on the sharp edges of brass plate. he also dances on the spherical surface of an earthen pot while he thus performs. It can be concluded that Kuchipudi Natya combines speech, song, mime and dance; the themes Sabda, Muktayi and Daruvu. The songs rendered by the Kuchipudi artistes are padams, kritis and javalis, which are purely classical models for Abhinaya.Kuchipudi dance-dramas are ‘Sringara’ oriented. The fundamentals of Nritta, Nritya and Abhinaya are the same as those of Bharata Natyam.

Expression through body movements, what is called ‘Angikaabhinaya’ and ‘Vaachikaabhinaya’ are prominent in these ballets. Even the Hastha Mudras are not different from those of Bharata Natya. Yet Kuchipudi has a rare charm of its own, which the modern world recognised very lately.

It was mentioned earlier how Kuchipudi satisfies all the requirements of a classical dance style, as stipulated in the Natya Sastra. It was first of all due to the pioneering efforts of the Late Sri Vedantam Lakshmi Naryayana Sastry who passed away during the ’50s that Kuchipudi today enjoys respectability (though not general acceptability). He was a real foundation of knowledge and departed radically from convention by teaching the art to women dancers among whom was the eminent exponent of Bharata Natyam, Balasarasvati. She publicly declared that her training under him had opened her eye to a new fascinating world of beauty and sublime. It was he who introduced the dance on the (brass plate) in the Balagopala Tarangam sequence with a view to imparting variety and vibrancy to the style. This is not a gimmick, nor is it an effort to bring in irrelevant acrobatics. Such sequences reveal the artiste’s mastery over rhythmic complexities.

It is this author’s life mission to project this great dance style far and wide so that it is accepted and admired the world over. The author’s wishes to see that the attention of international scholars and connoisseurs focused on its true

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