She took up Kuchipudi at the age of four, and at 49, Aruna Bhikshu has the same zeal towards the dance form that she had as a child. The doctorate, who is also an associate professor in the department of Dance in the University of Hyderabad, was selected to present her paper at the International Federation for Theatre Research Conference, at the Stockholm University in Sweden held recently.
Her paper dwelled on the subject of “Performative Intercessions Beyond Religion — A Glimpse Into Telugu Dance Traditions”. About why she chose this topic for research, Aruna says, “We say the classical dance forms of India are Sanskritised and Brahminical traditions. But if we actually look into their history, we can see that multiple cultures have been flowing through them. The rulers of the Golconda kingdom went beyond religion and gave a settlement area to Kuchipudi artistes in Krishna district. The dance form actually gets its name after this village that was gifted by the Muslim ruler. The performers had even incorporated a lot of Urdu and Persian words. I grew up watching these socio-cultural assimilations happening and that is why I wanted to bring out this fact about Kuchipudi that appealed to me.”
The conference hosted around 900 delegates from 40 different countries. Among those who attended Aruna’s presentations were mostly Koreans, Americans and Brazilians. “The session began with a brief introduction so they could be familiarised with the subject, and the response that I got during the session was very good. They had many interesting questions. They wanted to know how the dance form was passed on from generation to generation, and whether this fact of multicultural assimilation stands good for other dance forms as well. It was a very interactive and truthful session,” says the artiste.
Aruna had also welcomed theatre into her life when she was doing her Masters at HCU. She has since been a playwright, director, and actress and has been an acting trainer for many leading Tollywood stars such as Ileana D’Cruz, Ram Charan, Jr NTR and others....