Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi
Origin and History (Kuchipudi)
Kuchipudi dance originated in a village called Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier, only men used to perform this dance.
Siddhendra yogi composed a dance drama “Parijatha Haranam” and taught it to boys of Kuchipidi agrahara. The theme of this dance was about the Thapa, Viraha and happiness of the Jeevathma character (sathyabhama) experiences to reach Paramathma (Krishna). This dance drama, named as “Bhama Kalapam” is popular and is a challenge to perform by all Kuchipidi dancers. The Bhama character’s Viraha and milana abhinaya are very interesting and technical. Bhama, from behind the curtains, comes forward with her long hair put forward, with an appearance as if no one is equal to her. Vipralambha, and Sambhoga Shringara, these two are alternately depicted in this dance.
Other than Bhama Kalapam, another popular dance piece is Golla Kalapam composed by Bhagavathas Ramaiah. Another important aspect of Kuchipidi dance is balancing on the edges of a brass plate; the dancer cleverly shows her expertise in different Thala and poses while at the same time balancing a water pot (chombu) on her head. Spreading rangoli powder on the floor, the dancer creates various pictures of peacock, lion, Ganesha etc, while performing dance. The dancer has to practice these very nicely so as to gain confidence and concentration while doing this dance performance.
Origin of Bharathanatyam
When the culture and morale of people was going down, Natyasastra was born, motivating people to follow the right path, change their mind and helping them lead a fruitful life. When Devas complained to Brahma about the deteriorating state and culture of people on earth, Brahma created Natyaveda by taking gist from 4 vedas. Brahma gave this to Bharatha and asked him to popularize. Bharatha in turn taught this to his 100 children and created beautiful and informative Natyashastra containing 6000 shlokas.
All the dance forms of India are based on Bharatha’s Natyashasthra. But each regional dance form is strongly influenced by the lifestyle of the people of that region, their faith, their custom, their ways of dealing and their environment. The dance form thus born in south India, with Natyashastra as the base is now popular as Bharathanatya. This is also called as Marga Paddhathi and contains variations like Nritha, Nrithya and Natya. In course of time many changes came in to this, by leaving out some styles and adopting some styles and now it has its own methodology. Bharathanatya of present days is performed by individuals.
Bharathanatyam in Literature
It is believed that Bharatha’s Natyashasthra was written in 2nd century BC and Nandikeshwara’s Abhinayadarpana is written in 5th century AD. Sangitha rathnakara, written by Sharngadeva in 12th century, gives the evidence of the awareness of Marga paddhathi written in Natyashasthra as well as various deshi paddhathis. Other popular texts that give technical details of classical dance form, written in Karnataka are, Narthana nirnaya by Pundareeka vitala, and Laasyaranjana by Simha Bhoopala.
Many details about dancers and danseuses are described in Ramayana, Mahabharata, and also in the poetic works of Bhasa, and Kalidasa. Many poets of Karnataka viz., Pampa, Ranna, Harihara, and Rathnakaravarni have described many dance sequences in their works. Great works of Silappathikaram and Manimegalai by Ilango adigal in Tamil are about the story of a great dancer Madhavi and her daughter.
This way the dance form that was performed in the temples as a service to God was later performed by Devadasis in palaces to please kings and today is performed all over the world by young dancers.
Method of Practice (Bharathanatyam)
Today a student starts learning dance by first practicing physical exercise, 12 to 15 types of adavus, the movements of neck, eyes, eyebrows, head etc., Hastha mudras and their viniyogas. Then the practice of dance items starts with learning the first and easier misra alarippu. After learning alarippu, Jathiswara and small devarnama, crisp Varna, Pada and Thillana are learnt. After rigorous practice for nearly 7 to 8 years, the student is ready to give her Ranga pravesha.
The dancer is expected to dedicate her life for dance, thus developing bhakthi, good passion in the arts and hard work. She should be able to do the highest level of performance in terms of Bhava, Raga and Thala, while performing a Varna. Her Pada should bring out Nayaka, Nayaka Bhava, Javali should show navarasas, thus expecting her to be dedicated totally to dance.
Origin and History (Kuchipudi)
In the ancient days, in any Kuchipidi program, importance was given to Poorva Ranga Vidhi. The stage was cleaned well, sprinkled with water brought in a Kalasa, Lamps lit and Dhoopa was lit thus making the place more auspicious before starting the program. Later, the Soothradhara, with accompanying instruments shows his elaboration on Thala laya. Next, there will be a prayer in praise of the grama Devatha of Kuchipidi, Bala Thripura Sundari. During this, a boy with Ganesha mask dances on the stage. After the Ganesha dance, the Soothradhara tells the gist of the story in the form of a Shloka. In any Kuchipidi drama, the Soothradhara plays an important role. He converses with all important characters of the drama on the stage. He is the one to direct the musicians or the musical troupe and who induces and sustains Hasya Rasa in the play.
Similar to all other dance forms, even Kuchipidi has undergone changes as time elapsed. Nowadays, even women are equally efficient in performing this dance. Other than dancing for Krishna Shabdam, Mandooka Shabdam and Bhamakalapa, dancers of present days also perform for the compositions of Thyagaraja, Uthukkadu Subbaiar and many other composers.
Method of Practice (Kuchipudi)
Similar to Bharathanatya, the practice starts with various adavus and different type of Rangakramana is also learnt. It is usual to dance pooja Nritha, Jathiswara, Thillana etc., in between dance dramas. This even though may not be connected with the story, helps to keep the atmosphere lively and adds beauty to the over all program. More importance is given to body bending & movement in Kuchipidi. In Kuchipidi dance dramas, Darus – especially Pathrapravesha Darus are performed more . Kuchipidi also has its roots in Abhinayadarpana and Natyashasthra. Other than these, Rasamanjari, Sabharanjani and Bharatharasa prakarana are also followed by this dance. The performance may comprise of many Karanas and charis, very frequently. More importance and stress is given for abhinaya. Performances also include padas of Kshetrajna, Ashtapadis of Jaya deva, and Javali. Even though Karnatic music is sung for the performance, there are times when the artist herself may have to talk some dialogues on the stage. Instruments used are Thala, veena, violin, mridanga and flute.