By Sunil Kothari and Avinash Pasricha
One of the seven major classical dance forms of India, Kuchipudi in its solo avatara has acquired a status of a classical dance form of Andhra Pradesh. The story of Kuchipudi from its origin as a dance-drama and its emergence as a solo dance form is one of the most fascinating phenomena engaging attention of the gurus, the performing dancers and the research scholars.
Essentially a preserve of the male dancers, who also excelled in the female roles, today Kuchipudi is being mainly performed by the female dancers. However, the tradition continues to survive in Kuchipudi village, some 30 kilometres away from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. The traditional dance-dramas continue to exist along with more popular solo dance form. Kuchipudi has innumerable votaries not only in India but also abroad and their number is ever increasing.
Padma Shri Dr. Sunil Kothari, dance historian, scholar and critic, traces in this volume the origins of the dance-drama tradition, correlating the prayoga, the practice and the shastra, the theory and how from the natya, the drama, its integral elements nritya, expressional dance and nritta, the pure dance in the hands of creative, traditional gurus have shaped its present solo format, giving it its own identity.
Based on his extensive field work Dr. Kothari has studied the allied forms like Vithi Bhagavatam, Turpubani Vidhi Natakam, Pagati Vesham, Navajanardana Parijatam, Bhagavata Mela Nataka, Kuravanji dancedrama and offered an overview of the dance form as it exists today and continues to develop in its many ramifications. He has also dwelt upon the all-pervading influence of Vempati Chinna Satyam and his contibution in shaping Kuchipudi into a solo form along with the dance-dramas that he has choreographed.
The brief biographies of the traditional gurus and some of the celebrated exponents add to the value of this volume, presenting the current state of Kuchipudi on the contemporary dance scene.
Profusely illustrated with 166 colour and 221 black and white photographs by the ace photographer Avinash Pasricha and designed by the eminent artist and designer Dashrath Patel, Kuchipudi is a major significant study of the classical dance form of Andhra Pradesh.
About the Authors
Padma Shri Dr. Sunil Kothari
Padma Shri Dr. Sunil Kothari is a renowned dance historian, scholar and critic. He received Ph.D. in ‘The dance-drama traditions of Kuchipudi, Bhagavata Mela Nataka and Kuravanji with special reference to the Rasa Theory’ from the Department of Dance, M.S. University of Baroda in 1977. He received D.Litt. in Dance in 1986 from Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta for his work on ‘Dance Sculptures of Medieval Temples of North Gujarat with special reference to Sangitopanishad saroddhara’.
He served as Uday Shankar Professor and Head of the Dance Department of Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta from 1980 to 1995.
Author of definitive works like Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Kathak and Chhau Dances of India, he has conducted extensive field work, visiting centres of traditional dance forms and has documented them in their manifold aspects for the past forty years, collecting sizeable material to form a nucleus for a dance archive.
Dr. Kothari has been a member of the Executive Committee of International Dance Council (UNESCO), Paris; Asst. Secretary, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (Dance); member, Advisory Committee, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and several other cultural organisations.
For more than thirty-five years he has served as a dance critic for The Times of India group of publications. He is a foreign correspondent of Dance Magazine, New York.
For his overall contribution to dance, he has received from the President of India the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Gujarat State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and many other honours. Currently he is writing a book on ‘New Directions in Indian Dance’ for Marg Publications. He is based in Delhi.