Traditional Kuchipudi dance brings Indian mythology..
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Traditional Kuchipudi dance brings Indian mythology to life in Amman

AMMAN — Adorned in traditional garb and jewellery, the dancer gracefully stepped onto the stage. 

After the initial invocation, the drumbeats and ankle bells gathered momentum, and the dance began.

Stories and scenes from Indian mythology came to life at Haya Cultural Centre on Monday evening, as the classical Indian dance form of Kuchipudi was performed by Sreelakshmy Govardhanan, who has been “rigorously pursuing” this art for the past 20 years.

The event was organised by the Indian embassy on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of Jordanian-Indian diplomatic relations.

Kuchipudi is a classical dance from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and is one among many other classical dance forms in India.

“Kuchipudi is a big canvas; there is a theatrical and musical element in it and a great deal of scope for realistic acting; compared to contemporary dance techniques, it’s an interactive art, where intermittent delivery of dialogue is one of the unique traits of this dance,” Govardhanan explained.

“Kuchipudi narrates stories from mythology through brisk and rhythmic footwork, facial expressions denoting mental states, hand gestures and sculpture like poses.”

“Tarangam” is another special feature of this dance. In this form, the performer dances on a brass plate, she noted.

“Indian classical forms have their origins in ‘Natya Shastra’ which is an ancient Indian treatise on performing arts. 

“This text prescribes specifically how a dancer and audience should be. Through the ages, Kuchipudi has evolved from a three-to-four day dance drama, to its current form of a solo performance,” Govardhanan said, and it can be rendered alone or in a group.

“Kuchipudi can also take contemporary affairs into it themes, or address social issues — it’s an adaptive form.”

Kuchipudi is played to the melody of Carnatic music; typically, the orchestra includes a vocal artist, mridangam (drum), nattuvaangam (cymbals) and violin.

When asked about the challenges she faced while performing classical dance in foreign lands, Govardhanan said: “Some people expect a Bollywood style dance in a big colourful setting — pulling that off in itself is a challenge. What we have to do is genuinely give it to them — it’s not glamour, it’s classical, it’s got a separate genre to it.

“The themes of Kuchipudi are from Indian mythology; it’s very much rooted in psychology and philosophy. Our intention is to take people to the heart of that philosophy; the vibrancy and glamour may fade, but our task is to convey a concept that remains with the audience.”

On the sidelines of the event, Govardhanan held an interactive session to teach children some basic dance steps such as re-enacting a lion chasing a deer.

The dancer said she was overwhelmed by the response she received, as after the show, members of the audience flocked around her to touch her costume and to take selfies.

The artist, who has a postgraduate degree in psychology, said she is still continuing her research and studies in Kuchipudi, to which she has devoted her life.

“Nature has a rhythm; it evokes energy in you — the waves, they have their own style, the heartbeat inside you is itself a beat.”

Thursday, April 30, 2015


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