Monday, 13 April 2015

The Elegance Of An Indian Dance, In Motion And Stillness

I have generally favoured India's classical music over its dance, and within the realm of music, favoured Hindustani (North Indian) music over Carnatic (South Indian). But over the years, I have had occasion to watch snippets of classical dance as well, and I have gradually begun to appreciate one particular dance form.

The style I am talking about is Kuchipudi (pronounced koochi-pooDi), native to the Telugu-speaking state of Andhra Pradesh in South India. It's entirely subjective of course, but I find that Kuchipudi dances are more graceful and pleasing to the eye than any other classical Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam and Kathak included. Interestingly, the accompanying music for Kuchipudi is based on the Carnatic style, and I find I can appreciate this more when it accompanies the dance than when it is played by itself.

A recent piece I had the pleasure of watching was a short invocation to Ganesha performed by Sandhya Raju. The raaga of the accompanying song is 'naaTa' or 'naaTTai', a uniquely South Indian one. (I am not aware of any Hindustani equivalent to 'naaTTai'.)

At just under three and a half minutes, this scintillating piece leaves the viewer wanting more

Around 55 seconds into the piece, the dancer momentarily holds a pose, and this struck a sudden chord with me. I have had a passion for maps since my childhood, and can recognise most countries' maps with a fleeting glance. The pose she held reminded me strongly of the southern coast of India. Sure enough, when I took a snapshot of the screen and compared it to the Indian map, the contours lined up perfectly.

A little work with The GIMP, and I had created a minor, but pleasing work of art.

Now that's a dance form that captures an element of Indianness

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