BENGALURU: A dance-drama which was once known as Yakshagana evolved mostly into a solo repertoire known as Kuchipudi. Expressions, body movements, footwork and rendition of dialogues (vachaka abhinaya) have all changed and are close to being lost. All this and more will be part of a book being translated by dancer Dr Veena Murthy Vijay. The Telugu book, Nritya Tharangini, by Vachaspathi Guru Sri Vedantam Parvatheesam, dates back to the 1980s. Vijay is translated it into Kannada and English, and the new versions will be ready for a launch in September.
“It was during the lockdown that I felt that the very expressions of the dance form have been lost. The body kinetics have changed and the way a Kuchipudi dancer uses their body is very different from how it used to be. Previously, dancers used to speak while dancing which doesn’t happen now,” says Vijay, adding that there are very few books about Kuchipudi techniques, especially in English. “And with many urban dancers not being able to read the language, this knowledge is in danger of being lost,” says Vijay, whose first book, Theray, in Kannada, was published four years ago.
For this book, which will also include observations and comments by Vijay, she would ideally have liked to have visited Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh, but owing to the current circumstances she is relying on the information she has gathered during her previous visits to the place. With certain terms being specific to the langauge, Vijay points out that translating such phrases into two different languages is a challenge. “It’s important to translate the words without losing the essence,” says Vijay who has been consulting Vedantam Venkata Naga Chalapathi Rao, who hails from the illustrious Vedantam family of Kuchipudi, for translation guidelines.
Vijay welcomes new thoughts and ideas, but asserts the need to remember the dance’s origin. “We can’t lose out on the roots, we have to know where we come from,” she says, adding that with a new perspective, she hopes the canvas will become larger.