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Owing to the rich cultural heritage of Andhra, Vizag treasures some of the art forms as its own. Dhimsa Dance is one of the famous among a bunch. Though "Dhimsa" is almost the official Dance of the City there many other dance forms that enjoys such a support and performance like, Kuchipudi the Dance of the State, Bharatanatyam.
Bharatnatyam is the oldest of all the classical dance forms in India. It is believed to be nearly 3000 years old. It originated and is mainly practised in the present day region of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. Bharatnatyam derives its name from the Bharata's Natya Shastra - the earliest treatise on dance and drama.

Bharatnatyam is an amalgam of Bhava (expressions), Raga (music), Tala (rhythm), and Natyam ( dance). It mainly features mythological stories. This dance form makes prominent use of hand and eye movements to covey its message. Bharatnatyam signifies the man's quest for the God and his desire to unite with the Omniscient. Its core philosophy is the search of human soul for the ideal.

Since its evolution Bharatnatyam has undergone several transformations. During the medieval era Bharatnatyam prospered in the temples of the South India where Devdasis (servants of the God) performed this dance as a matter of religious devotion, under the royal patronage. In the colonial period the system of Devdasis degenerated into prostitution and Bharatnatyam dancers were eventually outlawed from performing at the temples. In the early part of the 20th century nationalists and cultural reformers seeking to preserve and promote India's cultural heritage restored Bharatnatyam to its original glory. Today, Bharatnatyam is an integral curriculum of girls' upbringing in Tamilnadu.

It is believed that Brahma, the first great trinity of Hindu Pantheon is the Natya Shastra or the Science of Dancing. Brahma was so moved by the entreaties of Indra and other devas of heaven that he used the four Vedas to create Natya Veda. The Natya Veda or the fifth Veda was bestowed on Bharata and his disciples who introduced the art to the mortals on earth. Hence the name Bharatnatyam.

Bharata Natyam skillfully embodies the three primary ingredients of dancing. They are bhava or mood, raga or music and melody and tala or timing. The technique of Bharata Natyam consists of 64 principles of coordinated hand, foot, face and body movements, which are performed to the accompaniment of dance syllables.

Bharatnatyam comprises three elements of life- philosophy, religion and science. It is a dynamic and earthy dance style and its antiquity is well established. It has been aptly called a symbol of beauty and aesthetic perfection. It is, in effect, a tradition that demands total dedication, detachment from worldly ties and a sublimation of self to the art from the performer. Bharatanatyam is a relatively new name. It was earlier known as Sadir, Dasi attam, and Thanjavur Natyam.

In the past, it was practised and performed in the temples by a class of dancers known as the 'devadasis'. Bharatanatyam dancers are usually women and, like the sculptures they take their positions from, always dance bent-kneed. It is an extremely precise dance style where a huge repertoire of hand movements is used to convey moods and expressions. Bharatanatyam is vibrant and very demanding of the dancer. The body is visualized as made of triangles, one above and one below the torso. It is based upon a balanced distribution of body weight and firm positions of the lower limbs, allowing the hands to cut into a line, to flow around the body, or to take positions that enhance the basic form.

Special features of this dance form are Padams or poems on the hero-heroine theme. The tempo of these love songs is slow and each phase of the performance is crystallized into a specific mood of love.
Kuchipudi, the indigenous style of dance of Andhra Pradesh took its birth and effloresced in the village of the same name, originally called Kuchelapuri or Kuchelapuram, a hamlet in Krishna district. From its origin, as far back in the dim recesses of time as the 3rd century BC, it has remained a continuous and living dance tradition of this region. The genesis of Kuchipudi art as of most Indian classical dances is associated with religions. For a long time, the art was presented only at temples and that too only for annual festivals of certain temples in Andhra.

According to tradition, Kuchipudi dance was originally performed only by men and they all belonged to the Brahmin community. These Brahmin families were known popularly as Bhagavathalu of Kuchipudi. The very first group of Brahmain Bhagavathulu of Kuchipudi was formed in 1502 AD. Their programmes were offerings to the deities and they never allowed women in their groups.

In an era of the degeneration of dance due to exploitation of female dancers, an ascetic, Siddhendra Yogi redefined the dance form. Fifteen Brahmin families belonging to Kuchipude have carried on the tradition for more than five centuries. Renowned gurus like Vedantam Lakshminarayana, Chinta Krishna Murthy and Tadepalli Perayya enriched the dance form by bringing women. Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam added several dance dramas and choreographed many solo performances, thus broadening the horizons of the dance form. The transition has been great from a time when men played female parts to the present when women play even the male parts.

Kuchipudi art, to be noted was intended as a dance drama requiring a set of character, never as a mere dance by a soloist which is common in present times. This dance drama are sometimes known as Ata Bhagavatham. The plays are in Telugu and traditionally all roles are taken by men alone.

Kuchipudi plays are enacted in the open air and on improvised stages. The presentation begins with some stage rites which are performed in full view of the audience. <<<The Kuchipudi dance begins with worship rituals. A dancer moves about sprinkling holy water, and then incense is burned. Indra-dhvaja (the flagstaff of the god Indra) is planted on the stage to guard the performance against outside interference. Women sing and dance with worship lamps, followed by the worship of Ganesha, the elephant god, who is traditionally petitioned for success before all enterprises. The bhagavatha (stage manager-singer) sings invocations to the goddesses Saraswati (Learning), Lakshmi (Wealth), and Parashakti (Parent Energy), in between chanting drum syllables.>>>
Then the Soothradhara or the conductor and the supporting musicians come on the stage and give a play of rhythm on the drums and cymbals. In a Kuchipudi performance, each principal character introduces himself or herself on the stage with a daru. A daru is a small composition of dance and song specially designed for each character to help him or her reveal his or her identity and also to show the performer's skill in the art. There are nearly 80 dharus or dance sequences in the dance drama. Behind a beautiful curtain held by two persons, Satyabhama enters the stage with her back to the audience. In Bhama Kalapam, Satyabhama is Vipralamba Nayaki, ie, the heroine who is deceived by her lover and dejected by his absence.

The most popular Kuchipudi dance is the pot dance in which a dancer keeps a pot filled with water on her head and feet kept on a brass plate. She moves on the stage manipulating the brass plate, with the feet kept on its rim and doing some hand movements without spilling a drop of water on the ground thus astounding the audience.

Apart from Bhama Kalapam, the other famous dance dramas are Gollakalapam by Bhagavatha Ramayya, Prahlada Charitam by Tirumala Narayanacharyalu, Sashirekha Parinaya etc.

The make up and costumes are characteristic of the art. There is nothing elaborate in the costumes and the makeup is not so heavy. The important characters have different make up and the female characters wear ornaments and jewellery such as Rakudi (head ornament), Chandra Vanki (arm ornament), Adda Bhasa and Kasina Sara (neck ornament) and a long plait decorated with flowers and jewellery.

The music in Kuchipudi is classical Karnatic. The mridanga, violin and a clarinet are the common instruments employed as accompaniment.

Today Kuchipudi like Bharatanatyam has undergone many changes. The present day dancers having advanced training in Kuchipudi style, present this art in their own various individual ways. There are presently only two melams, or professional troupes of male performers. The bulk of the dancers are woman. In its present day dispensation, Kuchipudi has come to be reduced from a dance drama to a dance, from an uplifting theatre experience to a routine stage affair.

Kuchipudi has its own style which is very pleasant to watch and many of the songs are tuned to a special rhythm which is unique and enjoyable. The Kuchipudi dancers are experts in Sattwika Abhinaya, Bhava Abhinaya. The charm of Kuchipudi lies in its fast and intricate footwork, sinuous grace, and the use of the eyes to express moods and feelings. The technique of Kuchipudi closely follows the tenets laid down in the 'Natya Shastra '. There is some mingling of the folk idiom, which makes it highly appealing to a wide spectrum of viewers. The training takes about four to seven years, and includes two sets of adugulu or basic steps, the jatis or combination of movements, and a detailed study of the 'Natyashashtra' (theoretical aspects of dance).

The following are the list of the ballets.

Traditional Ballets

All Kuchipudi performances begin with Rangapuja . The Rangapuja composed by Guru Smt. Vijaya Prasad is unique . It contains all the rituals as described in the Natya Shastra's Poorvaranga, such as Ranga samprokshanam, Dhwajavandanam etc.

Traditionally in Dashavtar the performer depicts the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Vijaya Prasad composed this item after the Mumbai bomb blasts and she wanted to express the emotions of that time through this item. So in her composition the dancers, after enacting the nine avtaras, pray to God and implore Him to take the ultimate avtar 'KALKI AVTAR', to relieve the humans from the pain and the sufferings.

Guru Vijaya Prasad brought her own original composition to this traditional song. In this composition Bala Krishna is watching the Gopikas perform Dashavtar and He enjoys watching his own avatars being enacted.

It is a combination of Jati and Swaras. It has a Pallavi and Chittaswarams. The aduvu's are complicated and there are variations in the rhythm.

Javali in Kuchipudi has a rare charm of its own as more importance is given to abhinaya. Also "Satvika abhinaya" is depicted with great diligence.

This item is based on the famous Kannada song of the same name.

This item depicts Lord Shiva's anger through tandav and how Paravti's love and devotion transforms Shiva's rage to love and peace.

Contemporary Ballets

Kuchipudi Dance Ballet based on Marathi Abhangas. This ballet was well received by public and critics and got coverage in Marathi newspapers. The ballet included the following abhangas:
o Powada - "Maharashtra Bhumi Pawana"
o Sant Dnyashawara's - "Om Namoji"
o Sant Eknath's - "Omkaraswarupa"
o Shahir Honaji's Bhoopali - "Ghyanshyam Sundara"
o Sant Ramdas 's - "Pahuniya Sita La"
o Sant Namdev's - "Deva Tuja sathi"
o Sant Tukarama's - "Kanya Sasurashi"
o Emarath Phala "Ali Sant Krupa Zali".

Its the first time any one has attempted an Dance Ballet on Navagraha. This Dance Ballet depicts the affect of each Nine Planets on the behavior of human beings. The ballet was written, choreographed and the music composed by Guru Smt Vijaya Prasad.

This ballet is based upon the Goddess Kanyaka Permeswari. The Ballet basically depicts the strength of woman as a whole through the legend of Kanyaka Permeswari.

Traditionally in Kshetryia Padams only one Nayaki (character) is depicted. But Guru Smt. Vijaya Prasad composed this Kshetryia Padams where she depicted all four Nayakis.

This item praises Lord Natraja who is symbolized as religion, art and science merged in one.. This item describes Lord Natraja's Limbs as the Universe, His speech as the sea of literature and His ornaments as the moon and the stars.

This item portrays the sacred marriage of Lord Rama And Goddess Sita. This item describes how the people of Ayodhya celebrated the Marriage by singing , dancing and playing.

This item portrays the sacred love of Radha and Krishna . This item is specially choreographed by Guru Smt. Vijaya Prasad and is dedicated to Lord Krishna.

This item depicts Lord Shiva's role as the Creator and the Destroyer.










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Araku Valley
Gurajada Kalakshtra


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