About Andhra Natyam
Andhra Natyam is an
ancient traditional dance form which originated as a temple dance and
dates back to the
Buddhist era. Classical Dances of
South India are divided into two main categories:
Natya Melamu -
performed by men
Nattuva Melamu -
performed solo by women
Bharata Natyam, Mohiniattam, Odissi etc., follow the Nattuva Melamu tradition of dance.
Kathakali, Yakshaganamu and the like follow the Natya Melamu tradition.
Kuchipudi dance tradition of Andhra Pradesh follows Natya Melamu. Nattuva
Melamu style of dance is largely performed by women and is adapted in a
classical dance form that is known as Andhra Natyam. Although the name
might sound new, but this classical dance tradition is as old as Telugu
This 3000 year old Andhra Natyam, performed by women was banned for
several years after suffering the consequences of social pressures,
customs and financial troubles. Fortunately about 50 years ago, this
of dance had been renamed and re-introduced as Andhra Natyam. One of the
original, and the most profound contributors to the development of Andhra
Natyam in the state of Andhra Pradesh is Padmasri Acharya Dr. Nataraja
Ramakrishna. With his relentless efforts, dedication and inspiration, he
revived this ancient dance form with the help of Government of Andhra
Prior to being named
as Andhra Natyam, this dance form was referred as Kaccheri, Kelika Darbaru,
Mejuvani etc. Dance and Abhinaya were both used for the sole performances
in ancient dances. The reason for calling it as Andhra Natyam is that
these dance forms are mainly performed in many Temples, King's Courts as
well as in local community gatherings. Fortunately Acharya Dr. Nataraja
Ramakrishna's efforts along with some renowned former courtesans and
temple dancers, this dance form has been revived and reinstituted into the
In Andhra Pradesh,
this dance tradition has developed in 3 distinct styles:
Aradhana Nrityam -
The Vedas, Upanishads that evoke the Bhakti Rasa is the prime source for
Agama Sastra. Temple construction, Devata Pratishtha, Aradhana, Puja
Kramam is classical music and dance. Agama Sastra describes this tradition
of devotional dance and music in great detail, including descriptions of
the types of musical instruments that are used and how the poetry is to be
written for songs. Puja (worship), when demonstrated via dance and music,
is known as 'Rangabhogamu'. Although these days temples do not host any
dances, the priests still chant "Nrityam Samarpayami" (Offering Dance to
the Lord) and "Ganam Samarpayami" (offering Music to the Lord). Without
these offerings, any puja would be incomplete. Devanarthaki's (Temple
dancers) would dance at various times of the day from Melukolupu (Early
morning when the Lord wakes up) till Pavvalimpu Seva (the time when
the Lord retires to bed).
Asthana Nrityam -
Dances in King's Courts:
Raja Narthakis or
Asthana Narthakis (Court Dancers) are very well educated in literature,
poetry, politics, art including classical music and dance. They have to
perform skilled dancing in the King's court amidst the scholars, poets,
critics, royal visitors, and other experts in various fields including
dance. These Raja Narthakis have to constantly practice and improvise
their skills to keep the King and his subjects enthralled with their dance
and music. In many historical examples it is noted that the Raja Narthaki
is as respected and honoured as the Maharani (the Queen) herself.
After monarchy ended in India there are no court dancers. Present day solo
dancers demonstrate their dance skills in auditoroums built for art lovers
and appreciative audiences.
Prabandha Nrityam -
Dances for the general audiences:
In order to ensure that
rich and poor can learn and enjoy our ancient mythology, history, culture
and traditions, many dances were based on popular mythological tales.
Dances that were choreographed for such occasions are known as Prabhandha
Nartanamu. Such dances at times also depicted current affairs in the
country - political and cultural. Dances performed during important
festivals became very popular entertainment along with offering good
educational value to the common public.
Two such popular dances are 'Bhama Kalapam' and 'Golla Kalapam'.
Bhama Kalapam is a romantic, melodious, visually exquisite Prabandha
Rachana. Golla Kalapam is more philosophical. Bhama Kalapam is also known
as Nava Janardana Parijatam.
Navajanardana Parijatam is a choreographic
interpretation to the popular mythological theme related to the divine
life of Lord Krishna and his glamorous consort Satyabhama. This dance
calls for exuberant performance from the artist synthesizing beauty in
the eyes, message in the movements and sweetness in performance elevating
the effect of music, song and substance.
For more information about Navajanardana Parijatam click here.