‘Kuchipudi’ is an Indian classical dance drama native and originated from a village Kuchelapuram of Andhra Pradesh in South India since 3rd century BC. It is performed by a combination of dancing and acting of the Hindu epics and mythological tales of Hindu Gods. Originally the dance was performed by men only but at present done mostly by women due to the efforts of great saint Shri Siddendra Yogi who developed the art by formulating certain principles and regulations regarding the movements and improved the quality of the dance. He also concentrated to include women in the dance. Later eminent Gurus like Shri Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry, Chinta Krishna Murthy and several others improved the art and spread the glory of Kuchipudi dance form to great heights throughout the world. The dance is characterized by movements of the hands, body and eyes (Abhinayam) with intricate foot movements to the music and lyrics. The lyrics in the Kuchipudi dance form are generally in Telugu but using Sanskrit lyrics is also not uncommon.
Kuchipudi dance drama is performed with a particular mythological episode or episodes. A solo dancing consists generally ‘Sabdam and ‘Bhamakalapam’ the main item being “Padams and “Tarangams”. Bhamakalapam is very popular and performed with grace and a particular style with a main character ‘Sathyabhama’. In Tarangam the artist performs a balancing the feet on the edge of a brass plate. Now a day in the Kuchipudi dance the drama is missing remaining with only the dance. The dance drama begins with some rituals performed before the audience and the Sutradhara of the conductor of the drama gives the rhythm on the drums and cymbals with support of the musicians and announces the title of the dance drama going to be performed. After the introduction the main dancer enters with a covering by a screen held by two persons and performs the Ganesh Pooja so that the dance goes without any hurdles.
Kuchipidi dance is accompanied by a song with instruments mridangam, flute, violin and tambura. The artists are generally dressed in traditional dress wear jewelry like Rakudi on the head, Danda Vanki on the arm etc with a long plait decorated with flowers and jewelry. Bhamakalapam, Gollakalapam, Prahladacharitum, Sasirekhaparinayam are famous dance dramas played in Kuchipudi dance. Kuchipudi now a day changed very much with several modifications to meet the likings of the viewers.
Indian Kuchipudi Dancer Mangala Maddali from USA
Mangala Muddali started learning Kuchipudi dance since the age of three under the tutelage of late Smt. Vidya Murthy of Hyderabad and then continued her training under the able guidance of Smt. Revathi Komanduri and Sri. Vempati Ravi Shankar.
Mangala has performed several programs, festivals along with her Gurus in both India and United States. In 2004 Mangala toured in United States with Guru Padmabhushan Dr.Vempati China Satyam and gave her performance in 40 cities. In 2006 Mangala received a level one National Award in Kuchipudi from the National Foundation for Advancement of Arts in USA. She also participated in 2006 Siddendra Yogi Kuchipudi Mahostav, held in Kuchipudi. Mangala has performed with various eminent artists in many cities across India and USA.
Indian Kuchipudi Dancer Rajyashree Ramesh from Berlin, Germany
Rajyashree Ramesh is an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and master teacher living in Germany since 1977. She received early training in Bharatamatyam and Kuchipudi from Smt.G.S Rajalakshmi and Vidwan Lokaiah in Bangalore, where she passed Karnataka state exams in 1972. Renowned Gurus Smt.Savitri Jagannadha Rao, Padma Vibhushan Dr. Vempati China Satyam, Padmavibhushan Smt. Kalanidhi Narayan and Sri Vedantam Ramu later nurtured her style.
Beginning her performing career at the age of 9 at Ravindra Kalashetra State theater in Bangalore, this versatile artist, researcher, movement analyst, singer and writer has in her dance career spanning over four decades presented several performances, lectures, workshops and radio/TV/ news paper interviews worldwide, receiving praise for her “rare grace refinement and faultless technique, high expressive power” “sublime graceful expression” and “grace and precision”. She has written various articles in German and English and has groomed several dancers of European origin at her academy for performing arts in Germany and Lithuania, who are drawing attention due to grace and precision. Rajashree’s dance signature is unique in its multidimensional approach, enhanced by her association with artists of various disciplines and her interaction with several cultures. She is a certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement analyst, currently pursuing research on the ancient Indian dances.