There are many ways of getting to know foreign cultures, and the most accessible are those which need no words, no translation and no (or little) explanation – for instance, music, dance, crafts and food. Dance is a poetic expression of mood, maybe even a life-view, but some time ago it also had mythological and religious meanings. In some countries and in some cultures, it still does. Apart from the now quite popular Bollywood-style dance, there exist several classical forms of dance in India, one of which is Kuchipudi.
As a classical form of dance, drama and music, Kuchipudi enjoys a unique place among the Indian classical dance forms. It suggests the quest to conquer Space and Time. With all its vigorous and vibrating leaps and turns, it is ebullient, scintillating, and yet has the capacity to be intensely lyrical. Kuchipudi derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram, in Andhra Pradesh, southern India, where it developed largely as a product of the Bhakti (devotion) movement, beginning in the seventh century AD. The tradition of classical dance in Andhra Pradesh goes back more than one and a half millennia. Kuchipudi finds its roots in a form of dance-drama and has a good balance of Nritta, Nritya and Natya, i.e. a combination of movements and footwork where dance has no meaning; a combination of pure dance and facial expression; and mime - or acting with mudras - to song.
One of the legends, despite her young age, of this form of dance is Yamini Reddy, daughter of Kuchipudi exponents Raja and Radha Reddy. She is an extremely captivating presence with the right aptitude for rhythm and expression who learnt Kuchipudi from her parents and gave her first solo performance at the age of three in New Delhi, one which earned her a standing ovation. She refused to study medicine and concentrated solely on the art of dance. The younger generation today believes in experimenting, and that is essential too, but continuity is also necessary. The future will be built on the foundations laid on the past and the present: with that adage in mind, Yamini has decided to master the conventional style of performing Kuchipudi dance. She is the thread of continuity in the family tradition of the Reddys.
Yamini has toured Europe, the USA, and Dubai. On June 22, 2009, she will present her interpretation of this fascinating ancient art of dance in the Culture House (Dom kultúry) Dúbravka in Bratislava, thanks to an invitation from the Indian Embassy in Slovakia.
See more at: www.rajaradhareddy.com, video.webindia123.com/dance/kuchipudi/yaminireddy, www.youtube.com and www.youtube.com.
18. Jun 2009 at 0:22 | Compiled by Spectator staff