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Understanding Kuchipudi


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Amongst schools of Indian dance, that have been revived in this century, Kuchipudi has a very interesting history, both at the level of theory as also practice. Also, the history of the evolution of this style is developing and its contemporary revival and popularity throws significant light on the dynamics of the performing arts. The history of Kuchipudi reveals the interplay of not only the temple and the courtyard, but also the urban and the rural, the female and the male and the mutual dialogue between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Kuchipudi’s codified language of gestures and the techniques of human movement are known to the different regions of India. No one treatise can be considered as the base for the grammar of the dance style. Nevertheless, there is a great relevance of the texts, such as, the Nritta Ratnavali for Kuchipudi. The history and the textual sources provide the link of continuity for the contemporary, almost modern, reinterpretation of Kuchipudi through the female form during the last two or three decades. The problem of transferring a technique which was evolved for the male body to impersonate female, to be articulated again through the female, presents complex kinesthetical problems. These are the challenges which are Kuchipudi dancer faces, meets and overcomes in a successful performance.

Mallika Sarabhai, under the guidance of her Guru, C.R.Acharya, has shown an exemplary courage in putting together the corpus of the codified text, supplemented with a brief history. The volume will, no doubt, give guidance to those pursuing Kuchipudi as practitioners and performers of this style. While the IGNCA’s principal focus has been on publishing of collated, edited texts bilingually with commentaries and critical discussion, this slender volume will fill a gap in a field where critical writing is meager.


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