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#BackyardTourismTales – The Dancing Boys of KUCHIPUDI VILLAGE

The dancing boys of Kuchipudi Village

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.

Where to learn Kuchipudi dance?
The dancing boys of Kuchipudi Village

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?

The Dancing temple of India
Balatripura Sundaridevi temple entrance door

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.

Dancing Boys of Kuchipudi Village
Nritta, Nritya and Natya.

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.

13 thoughts on “#BackyardTourismTales – The Dancing Boys of KUCHIPUDI VILLAGE

  1. Very interesting. Our classical dance forms are a true repository of our culture and tradition. M always confused between these forms. But learning about one at a time will make things easier. So I m starting with this article to learn about Kuchipudi. Will explore more about it soon. Keep sharing ur backyard stories.

  2. It is great that you are able to take some local trips. I love the joy of dancing that is shown in the statue. So good to meet the old man and learn so much about the dancing history. And to see his students dance. I can see why this created some great memories.

  3. That was generous of Mr Prasad. It is such joy to have the opportunity to talk to these people who’s inspiring and full of wisdom. I am happy to know tha you were able to talk to his students and granddaughter.

  4. Learning about small local places and experiences is such a joy, and your trip to Kuchipudi seems one such example. I love that it is known for the dancing boys! Wonderful to read about your meeting with Mr Prasad and then to see the kids dancing!

  5. This is so unique and awesome!! The fact that this entire village is so dedicated to dancing, to the point that most people are dancers of dance instructors is mind blowing, I’d love to chat with the locals as you did with Mr Prasad. It must be interesting to live in a community where everyone’s interests are so obviously aligned! I can’t even think of something that compares to this…so unique. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think it’s so important to learn from the locals, especially when this is such a major part of their city’s history and culture. I love the quaint Balatripura Sundaridevi Temple that you visited. This is such a unique experience that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. This is a style of dance that I do not see often where I live, so I really enjoyed reliving your travels through your photos/videos and words. Definitely an experience I’m adding onto my bucket list.

  7. What an experience to learn about the dance and history from locals! The temple has an interesting history surrounding the dance. Very interesting to learn about this tradition.

  8. What a beautiful experience being able to see this traditional dance first hand by the dancing boys, but also to speak with Mr. Prasad and learn about his stories. It is one thing to visit and observe as a tourist, but it is another being able to engage with the community through meaningful conversation. I’m sure you will have lasting memories from this trip!

  9. Quite interesting reading about this classical dance. It is one graceful storytelling classic. It requires so much discipline and talking to veteran and understanding its form would have been amazing. Given that it follows the Natya shastra, I am sure I would find a lot of similarities to Kathak and Bharatnatyam. I would love to compare the these.

  10. I have never heard about this dance before it is so interesting to learn more about something so old and culturally important. I particularly loved that you even included the video so we could see how a new generation starts learning this important aspect of their culture.

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