Katyayani Ganti has been learning dance since her teens, but her ongoing interest over the years resulted in completing a Masters course in Kuchipudi dance from the University of Hyderabad. Starting this Friday, she is spearheading a three day dance festival Thrai Varnyam involving Kuchipudi, Kathak and Odissi at Ravindra Bharathi. Katyayani has also pursued a PhD on the dialogue between Kuchipudi dance and Telugu cinema.
“Between the year 1939 and 1969, many stalwarts of Kuchipudi tradition like Vedantam Raghavaiah, Vempati Peda Satyam, Pasumarthy Krishnamurthy, Vempati Chinna Satyam and Vedantam Jagannadha Sarma created beautiful choreography for Telugu films such as Raithu Bidda, Nartanasala, Devadasu and Maya Bazar. Today, we hardly find such kind of classical depth in the choreography of Telugu films,” says Katyayani.
“Many do not understand the reasons for pursuing this art form. Dance gives me immense joy that cannot be described in words. It’s ultimately a personal choice of what needs to be our priority in life. Every field has its pros and cons, but it’s very important to know what you love and want to do in life. Dancing to a piece of music is like a 3D version of art experience. Dance is also a very powerful tool of storytelling. The subject of dance may sometimes be the same, but we are always creating or recreating a totally new experience,” says Katyayani.
As for the support for classical arts, Katyayani feels that one has to keep the flag flying high and hope for progress. “In India, we cannot expect a hockey player to be paid on par with a cricketer. Things may change but it would be difficult to expect big support for classical arts. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) could be of great help provided there are more people at the decision making level in these organisations who understand art and culture,” she explains.
Katyayani adds, “Youngsters who want to become good performers need to watch and learn the traditional art form. Doing a Masters or research projects would increase the knowledge, but enhancing performing skills needs lot of hard work. When I visited Nrityagram (founded by Protima Bedi) near Bengaluru for an Odissi workshop, I was amazed at the commitment of the teachers and students there. For hours together, the practice sessions were aimed at skill development and creativity. ”
Talking about the city’s patronage of the arts, Katyayani says, “Hyderabad has always been a place where tradition and culture is supported in a big way. But the present day infrastructure and traffic bottlenecks put off many connoisseurs of art. The travel time to reach any programme is a nightmare. We do not have smaller spaces for performance. There is a lack of ‘black box theaters’ which can give more aesthetic performance spaces for all artistes.” She adds, “Artistes should also not settle. They should look for the best arrangements in terms of costume, sound, light or even make-up.”