Dance forms of Andhra Pradesh

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This is an article about the Dance forms of Andhra Pradesh in India and southern Asia.


[edit] Kuchipudi

Classical Dance "Kuchipudi" from Andhra Pradesh" Kuchipudi a dance form given to the Indian dance platform by a small village in the Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is not merely a dance form but is combination of dance, gestures, speech and song. A Kuchipudi dancer has to be well versed in dancing, acting, music, various languages and texts. Kuchipudi was born in a small village of Andhra Pradesh. There it developed as a tradition by the same name where it was born. Kuchipudi although now recognized as an independent dance form is related to Bharat Natyam. It was in the 17th century during the bhakti movement in South India that Siddhendra Yogi the formulator of the dance form selected some boys from the village to perform dance drama. Thus came the Kuchipudi in this world. In those days Kuchipudi was performed once in a year and the dance form was cautiously kept out of the reach of Devadasis. From the fist performers the technique and skills of this form got handed over the generations to acquire the present form. Some of the legendary performers and gurus were Kuchipudi Brahmins like Lakshmi Narayan Shastri and Chinta Krishna Murti who excelled in roles like Satyabhama in Bhamakalapam; later gurus include Vedantam Chinna Satyam. Today both group performances and solo performances are popular but experimentation are always being done with the choreography

[edit] Andhra Natyam

Andhra Natyam is as old as the people of Andhra and dates back to nearly 2000 years.

Originally it was a temple dance performed by devadasis as a form of worship. In the days of yore, wherever there was a temple, there was some form of dance associated with the region. These dance forms were categorised into three kinds - Agama Nartanam, Carnatakam and Darbari Aatam.

Those performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals, were called Agama Nartanam. This was a spiritual dance form.

The dances performed in royal courts to the accompaniment of classical music were called Carnatakam. This was an intellectual art form.

The other kind of dance form Darbari Aatam, appealed more to the commoners and educated them about their religion, culture and social life. These dances were performed outside the temple precincts in the courtyards.

Each group had a coterie of dancers and those who resided in the temple premises did not go to the court of kings or zamindars to dance.

The dance form of Andhra Natyam was initially known by different names - Kacheri Aatam, Kelika, Daasi Aatam, Chinna Melam, Nattuva Melam, Carnatakam and so on. It was Anna Bathula Bule Venkata Ratnamma and the dancing ladies (devagnikas) who decided to give all the dance forms one common name after the people of the region. Hence, it came to be called as Andhra Natyam.

The evidence of Andhra Natyam can also be traced to the Buddhist era. Sculptures on the stupa at Amaravathi also depict ladies dedicated to this art saluting the feet of Buddha as Atmarpana. During the period of Hinayana (Lesser vehicle) Buddhism, this art form was practised as Nruthyam - a form of worship to God.

Although the temple ritual dance of Andhra Natyam became extinct it was revived by some enthusiastic people.

The dance forms of Andhra Natyam were performed by well - cultured ladies in the days of yore. This was the lasya or female tradition of dance which was characterized by a rich display of foot work and abhinaya.

Infact, Andhra Natyam is similar in style to Bharatanatyam. Both these dance forms originated in the temple dance of the South and were performed in all Shaiva and Vaishnava temples. These two dance forms were based on Nandikesa's "Abhinava Darpana" and Bharata's "Natya Shastra". While in Andhra, temple dances were discontinued, in Tamil Nadu they were formalised as Bharat Natyam, a dance which became a symbol of cultural enlightenment.

But so far as abhinaya is concerned, Andhra Natyam is far superior where as the highly stylised costumes make-up and ornamentation are a modern day evolution, temple dancers never wore any elaborate costumes except simple sarees.

Dancers of yesteryears were extremely beautiful and wore simple cotton sari, that had a zari border sometimes. Unlike modern trends, there was no elaborate orchestra since the ladies sang themselves.

Andhra Natyam as of today comprises the lasya tradition of female dance and the male warrior dance called Perini. This vigorous dance form is characterised by rapid foot steps and the essence is to invoke Lord Shiva.Perini dance was extinct and its renaissance was brought about by Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna.

Today, Andhra Natyam has been formally included as a five-year diploma course at the Telugu University, Hyderabad. Several aspiring artists have successfully learned the dance form of Andhra Natyam and are performing artists today. Nagalakshmi, disciple of Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna is one such young dancer dedicated to this art form.

The dance form of Andhra Natyam has come a long way thanks to the patrons of this art. They believe that Andhra Natyam will live as long as the people of Andhra prosper.

[edit] Bhamakalapam

Bhama refers to Satyabhama , Krishna's beautiful but jealous wife and kalapam means complaint or argument. Bhamakalapam is both a theater form (like Gollakalapam) and a drama. The drama was created by Siddhendra Yogi in the 17th century for the devotional use of Kuchipudi performers. The theater is performed by several troupes in Andhra Pradesh and is a fine example of the feminine movements in dance (lasya) as opposed to the masculine tandava movements of Kathakali and Yakshagana.

[edit] Burrakatha

See main article Burrakatha. It the new name (twentieth century) for the theatre known as Jangam Katha. The jangams were wandering siav worshippers. Burra refers to the tambura, a musical instrument played by the main storyteller. The main performer narrates a story, plays music and dances to it. The co-performers plays drums and addresses him constantly and enrich certain events in the story with their short sentences.

[edit] Veeranatyam

Lord Siva, outraged at the humiliation met by his consort, picked up a strand out of his Jata-Jhuta (hair) and created Veerabhadra. The Veeramusti community which claims to be the descendant of Veerabhadra, performs this vigorous dance with instruments like Tambura, Soolam, Dolu, Tasha and Veeranam usually at Draksharamam in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, which is believed to be Dakshavatika, the birth place of Veerabhadra

[edit] Butta bommalu

A typical folk dance form, popular in Tanuku of West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Butta Bommalu which literally means basket toys are made of wood husk, dry grass and cow dung. Each dancer wears a different mask over the head and shoulders enlarging the scope of the performer and dances to a nonverbal rhythm which adds color to the movements.

[edit] Dappu

Made of goatskin, a tambourine-like drum is beaten with sticks creating a rhythm that is softened only by the ankle bells that the 16 to 20 dancers wear. Part of a Telangana custom which sees the Dappu dancers at the front of any procession, whether it be for jataras, festivals or marriages, this is truly a celebration of the percussive powers of dance. This lively art form hails from Nizamabad District. The performers in colorful make-up and even more colorful costumes dance to the musical patterns set by cymbals, tabla and a harmonium. Mythological themes are usually enacted and the audience are the rurals.

[edit] Tappeta Gullu

Popular in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, this is a devotional dance which invokes the Rain God with its vigor, rhythm and tempo. Also performed during festivals, the dance sees 15 to 20 vibrant artists with drums around their necks creating mesmerizing beats and heart stopping acrobatics.

[edit] Lambadi

Associated with daily tasks harvesting, planting, sowing etc., the Lambadi is performed by the Banjaras, a seminomadic tribe seen all over Andhra Pradesh. Costumes embroidered with glass beads and mirrors, ornate jewellery, ivory bangles, brass anklets and a natural rhythm make this dance a colourful exposition of joy which is the highlight of many a festive occasion

[edit] Bonalu

The folk festival of Bonalu in the Telangana region brings with it celebrations which see the colourfully dressed female dancers balancing pots (Bonalu), step to the rhythmic beats and tunes in praise of the village deity Mahankali. Male dancers called Potharajus precede the female dancers to the temple lashing whips and neem leaves adding colour to the festivity.

[edit] Dhimsa

Dhimsa dance is a dance of young and old, men and women of Valmiki, Bagata, Khond and Kotia tribes living in the enchanting Araku Valley in the hilly tracts of Visakhapatnam district. A monthly magazine is published by the name of Dhimsa in Telugu Link to Tribals dance during the months of Chaitra i.e. March/April, on weddings and other festivities. During the festivals dancers of one village visit the other to participate in the dance and join the community feast. Such dances are known as “Sankidi Kelbar”. The unique feature of Dhimsa dance is that it chanalises friendship and fraternity between the people of different villages. This being traditionally a tribal dance, the women folk attired in typical tribal dress and ornaments dance in group to the tune of Mori, Kiridi, Tudumu, Dappu and Jodukommulu.

Dhimsa had branched off to eight different categories of dances. Boda Dimsa is a worship dance in honour of village goddess. Men on the right and women on the left form two rows and hold one another firmly in their hands the backs. The first man in the right row with a bunch of peacock feathers in hand in rhythmical steps takes the lead while the last person in the left row joins him. Then all dancers to the sounds of anklets move zigzag in a serpent dance in a circle crying “Hari” and “Hui” return to the rows. In Gunderi dimsa or Usku Dimsa a male dancer while singing sends invitation to the females to dance with him. Thereafter, the male and female with firm steps move forward and backward stride in a circle. In Goddi Beta Dimsa the dancers bending forward and rising up with a swing go about twenty-five steps and return in the same manner four to five times. Potar-Tola Dimsa dance symbolizes the picking up leaves. Half of the dancers stand side by side in a row, while the rest stand behind the first row in same manner and keep their hands on shoulders of dancers standing before. Turning their heads to right and left the two rows march forward and backward. Bhag Dimsa is a dance of art as to how to escape from a tigers attack. Half of the dancers form a circle holding hand in hand. They stand on their toes, bowing and raising their heads. Moving round swiftly, the rest enter the circle and form a “serpent Coil”. This is repeated several times. Natikari Dimsa is a solo dance danced by the Valmikis on Dewali festival in particular. Kunda Dimsa is dance where the dancers push each other with their shoulders while swinging rhythmically. Baya Dimsa dance is the dance of tribal masician when he is possessed by the village goddess. All the villagers with their hands bowed down imitate the “Ganachari”. This continues till the magician returns to normalcy Dimsa dances exhibit community unity without discremination. These dance forms essentially amplifying their ways of life belong to their cultural heritage. Even though things have changed much, yet the hillmen had retained their traditions unspoilt. Though their dances cannot be included into any classical forms, yet they conform to the rhythm of either “Aditala” or “Rupakatala”.

[edit] Kolattam

'Kollattam' or the stick dance is one of the most popular dance narratives in Andhra Pradesh. It is also called as Kolannalu or Kolkolannalu. A rural art usually performed during village festivals, kolattam is a combination of rhythmic movements, songs and music. It is known as Dandia ras in Gujrat, Garbha in Rajasthan, etc.The Kolatam group comprises dancers in the range of 8 to 40. In kolattam, performed by 8 to 40 artists grouped in pairs, The stick provides the main rhythm. The artists lead by the leader move into two circles, the inner circle receiving the strikes while the outer circle delivering them. Kolatam offers a great variety of entertainment to the spectators as well as the participants.

Kolattam is also called Kolanna in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh state.

Culture of Andhra Pradesh

AvadhanamBatukammaBonaluDance forms of Andhra PradeshKuchipudiMaa telugu thallikiMusic of Andhra PradeshNakashi artNookalammaShadow Puppets of Andhra PradeshTirupati ThimmappaUgadi

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