I am excited to start the Backyard Tourism series and can’t wait to share my local experiences in and around Vijayawada in the state of Andhra Pradesh. My visit to Kuchipudi village and the joy of seeing a teacher-students interaction will always be special. The vivid image of the two young boys tapping their feet to the oral beats of their Guru in a small room, opposite the most vibrant temple in the dance village of India continues to remind me of the time spent there. Kuchipudi is one of the major classical dances of India and it originates from a humble village in the neighborhood of Vijayawada. I had a chance to visit the village on one Sunday and below are some of my pictures and video of the dancing boys of Kuchipudi Village.
When I came to live in the city of Vijayawada last year, visiting the dancing village of India was high on my list. I was very happy that the plan fell in place and I found my way through to this dance haven.
Hardly 50 kilometers away from my location, a yellow arched gate studded with dancing motifs, welcomed me with warmth and cheer. It was easy to locate Sri Siddhendra Yogi Kuchipudi Kala Peetham, the gurukul or university for Kuchipudi dance. I alighted from the car to go inside but Sunday was just not the day to be there. Yes, I should have known this.
I was disappointed to find the college closed as I had plans to interact with some of the teachers and students there. I asked the locals boys who were playing cricket in the campus but they said, it was hard to find someone today. I wondered…..What next?
Balatripura Sundaridevi temple
The village did look calm and silent, maybe it was a day off from dance. However, I did not leave the village immediately. I had heard every house had a dance teacher or a student. All that I needed was courage to knock any random house and ask if they would like to share their story. But first I made my way to the Balatripura Sundaridevi temple, one of the most popular temple there, where dancers have been worshiping for decades.
A Chance Interaction with Mr Pasumarthy Kesava Prasad
The temple was small but unique. The dancing figurines all over spoke of the significance of dance in the life of the locals. Just to the right of the temples, the houses belonged to some of the renowned Kuchipudi teachers but I was not sure it was right to disturb on a Sunday. Just then I saw a small office on the other side and entered through the open door. A man in his sixties gave me a warm smile and asked my purpose of visit. When I explained him, he offered me a chair. Soon, I learned that he was the founder secretary of Akhila Bharata Kuchipudi Natya Kala Mandali, Mr Pasumarthy Kesava Prasad.
The chance meeting with Mr. Prasad, 69, made the experience totally worth it. I felt enriched as a traveler to hear about the village and Kuchipudi from someone who had lived there forever. I was amazed to hear that he had been dancing since the age of 8 and had so much experience. He fondly talked about his Guru and narrated some of his childhood anecdotes. He was very happy to answer my questions as well. Later he also introduced me to his students and grand daughter, who were training under his guidance. The video below will give you a glimpse of the performance. It was heartwarming to see them learn, falter and still perform. This definitely happens to be one of my fondest memories from my Backyard Tourism stories.
Here are some key points to know about KUCHIPUDI Dance
- It is a major Indian classical dances of India.
- The dance of Kuchipudi was originally practiced as a dance-drama ceremony. Later, it evolved into a systematized form with a structured style and technique.
- Kuchipudi dance combines the elements of speech, acting, tapping, storytelling and mimes. The artists/actors communicate with expressions and movements.
- The dance calls for spectacular footwork.
- There was a time when it was practiced by the men only. Today, it has spread its magic and charisma all over the world.
- It is more than 300 years old practice.
- Kuchipudi is made of Nritta, Nritya and Natya. These are performance categories of ‘Natya Shastra’.
- Some facts say that the dance came into being when some dancers performed to highlight the unfair treatment of a king.
- Kuchipudi is also rooted back to the ancient Sanskrit Hindu text.
This is the first story of my #BackyardTourism tales! Hope you enjoyed the performance of the dancing boys of Kuchipudi village.