photo by mina
In my post about Kuchipudi course I attend I promissed to follow up on that fascinating art of dance.
Even with that tiny little experience that I have gained by now I can tell you – it is the most fascinating dace I have ever tried to learn (and I learned quite a bit of them!).
I am very lucky with my teacher, Siddhi Bhasale (born Austrian, married to an Indian) who is the best non-Indian Kuchipudi dancer I have ever seen. Many years of ballet-training before she started with Kuchipudi gave her a unique perspective on dancing.
I find it so interesting, especially the comparison of ballet and Indian classical dance that I am eager to share it with you. Most of the ideas are from Siddhi, but already now I can sign under some of them as well!
· Dancing Kuchipudi engages your whole body, all the muscles and in particular those you are completely unaware of. Especially mudras require such flexibility of fingers that ones could get frustrated by own invalidity
· The true challenge is in moving simultaneously and in different direction all parts of the body: my poor brain is not use to such physical multitasking and fights with adjusting to it.
· In ballet movement the body has to build one line, it all happens like in one swing (here I find an interesting parallel to linear style of Western thinking). In Kuchipudi, on the contrary hands do not follow the impulse of feet but live their own life. The worse case is when some very complex hand-movement goes in a double speed in comparison to the legs!
· Every mudra, every so called step (combination of legs and hands movement) has its special meaning, thus any dance piece is a story one can read
· Indian classical dancers have no health troubles caused by their profession (like back or joints pain of ballet-dancers): one is constantly half-seated knee bent, it makes a sort of springing-effect that stares the back
· All in all, Indian classical dance is a hard muscle training; however you will never see a body-builder looking woman dancer. Why? Most of the building up trainings (dances or sports) cause a strong muscle extension (remember stretching as a basic?) – apparently this makes the muscles evident and definitely not feminine!). Indian dancing style causes a kind of a compression of muscles (no idea how it really works but the effect is obvious). Actually Kuchipudi is a great thing for fitness which does not make a lady look like Schwarzenegger. The ballet dancers do not look either, it`s true. But the training is less hard (in compariosson) and they all look rather tense, one can see the body is trained through.
· Dance is a magic, no doubt. Ballet like “Swan lake” is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. However the magic of an Indian classical dance is of other kind: it is meditative, dynamic, ever growing and simply fascinating! One is taken away be the genius beauty of a human body where every part is so precious, so unique and alive. I heard of a Kuchipudi master who dances his famous Shiva-Parvati dance acting with his left-side like a woman (Parvati), with the right side like a man (Shiva). Can you imagine?! I love the Indian idea of God being femail and male at the same time – but it is a theme for another post.