Story behind an art form

Enlightening talk

Story behind an art form

Dance being an interactive form of art is often hard to explain in a limited time. But kuchipudi dancer Veena Murthy Vijay dancer tried just that with a lecture demonstration, held as a part of the ‘Academy of Music Chowdiah Awards’ and ‘K K Murthy Memorial Music Festival 2012’ at Chowdiah Hall recently.

Explaining the different ‘adavus’ and the influences of yakshagana on kuchipudi, this dancer who has been performing and teaching dance from 35 years, tried to explain the art form to the audience. “For some reason, people here in the City are not able to appreciate the art form, and this lecture was intended to clear that barrier,” said Veena. “Kuchipudi has the same kind of beauty that any dance form has and it is a universal art form,” she added.

She further explained, “Kuchipudi is one of the only dance formats, unlike bharatanatyam or kathak that allows speech, dance and drama in it. There are no strict rules to this art form, and the artiste can explore various dimensions and mould the dance to his or her own body kinetics.” Explaining about the dance format, she said, “The dance form in the tenth century AD was performed as ‘bhagwathamelas’, and represented contemporary issues where performers went from village to village, and would pick up an issue and very subtly hint it.

The dance thus had a social responsibility to it.”Kuchipudi slowly progressed to its solo format, when gurus took excerpts, and changed them into solo performances. “For a solo, the different features included are ‘purvaranga vidhi’, ‘jathiswaram’, ‘shabdam’, ‘tharangam’, ‘kalapam’, and the act ends with ‘tillana’,” elaborated Veena. 

She also tried to explain the connection between yakshagana and kuchipudi, and with the help of her students who performed certain pieces on the stage, explained the different ‘adavus’. A few restructured ‘adavus’ by Veena, like ‘Dhigidudinna’ as ‘Jaaru’, and ‘Ekataala’ and ‘Thiruvadatala’, where eye, foot and hand movements have been codified, were also depicted on the stage.

In response to the lecture, Seeba Vinoy, a member of the audience said, “My daughter is a dance student, and it is wonderful to be able to attend such lectures, where the history of an art form is explained. It’s always important to know the story behind an art form, how it came into being and what it originally was.”

Ragini Umesh, a dance teacher said, “There is a great need to understand any dance form, from its basics. It is really hard to explain any art form in words, and Veena’s presentation has just proved that it is possible. It is very important to know the context of a performance and dance form, rather than just see it as sheer movements put together.” 

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