When Vempati Chinna Satyam passed away in 2012, he may have left behind a void in the Kuchipudi’s dance scene — but it’s one that has inspired many to take up the art form into the 21st century.
Celebrating his 87th birth anniversary, the Nishumbhitha Natya Gnanapeeth academy of dance and music organised a day long set of Kuchipudi performances in the city on Sunday. Considered a pioneer of the “modern” form of the dance, Satyam’s legacy has not just made Kuchipudi relevant in contemporary times, but took it to a wider audience as well.
Yashoda Thakore, a Kuchipudi dancer, says, “He made the dance form global. Even his choreography... the logic behind it was to make it universal, and even foreigners could understand what he was trying to portray. He looked around and took the best from different things and brought them into Kuchipudi.” Studying under Satyam at the Kuchipudi Art Academy — that he founded in the early ’80s — Yashoda adds that his influence also led to many women joining the Kuchipudi repertoire. “He was the pioneer of the Nrityanatika or the dance opera or ballet for Kuchipudi, which doesn’t have dialogue. Until then, Kuchipudi performances were in the form of Yakshaganam, where there’s dialogue, but he eliminated that and replaced it with beautiful literature and songs,” adds dancer Anupama Kailash.
Moving out from the village of Kuchipudi in AP’s Krishna district, he set up institutes in Chennai and Hyderabad too. Having studied under Satyam’s direct tutelage ever since she was 10, Sandhya Raju says he made her the dancer she is today. She says, “He basically revolutionised Kuchipudi — before him, it had a very rustic form. He was a rule breaker and he had this vision of Kuchipudi in his head, he beautified it. He’s touched so many lives, and his students are now all over the world and thriving.”...