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Dance - Andhra Natyam, Perini Sivatandavam
revived by Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna

* 16 Sep 21
Different names of Andhra Natyam
Andhra Natyam belongs to Andhra Pradesh and it enjoys a supreme place in the history of Indian dance. Known as the feminine tradition, it is more than two thousand years old and is enriched and embellished with bhava (expressions), raga (musical melody) and tala (rhythm).
Andhra Natyam is also known by other names like Agama Nartanam, Kelika, Darbar Ata, Kutcheri Ata, Karnatakam, Nattuvamelam, Meju Vani etc. Each name has a particular significance like the dance performed according to Agama Sastra is known as Agama Nartanam. Similarly, the dance performed for entertainment is called Kelika. The dance performed in the presence of gods in the Kalyana Mandapa or the courts of kings is called Darbar Ata. The dance performed according to traditional classical music is called Karnatakam. The dance performed with expert leadership of a female dancer is known as Nattuvamelam and the dance performed by expert scholarly female dancer is known as Meju Vani. More than 45 years earlier, all these names were prevalent until a series of meetings with scholars under the auspices of Andhra Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi put these names together and called it Andhra Natyam.

Over the period of 2000 years, three distinct traditions developed known as Agama Nartanam, Asthana Nartanam and Prabandha Nartanam.

Agama Nartanam
The dance was performed as part of worship in marga style according to Agama Sastra and was dedicated to gods. The dancers were Deva Ganikas who performed in the presence of the main deity in the Natya Mandapa only. The Agama Nartanam which was performed in the presence of Lord Shiva was different from that performed in the presence of Lord Vishnu or the Ashta Dikpalakas (eight guards in the eight directions of the temple).

Asthana Nartanam
The dance is considered an intellectual feast as the dancer displays her command over dance and the Sastras. The dance is performed during festivals and changes according to the likes of the particular king.

Prabandha Nartanam
A combination of education and entertainment, this dance is based on Puranas and Vedanta, incorporating Parijatams, Kalapams and Bhagavatham for the benefit of the common folk.

Andhra Natyam recital
If the dancer is a male, he is expected to be attired in female disguise. The dancer enters the stage with a Kumba Harati (a flame on a pot) and performs a churnika (lyrics in praise of God). After Pushpanjali, she performs nritta (pure dance), nritya (pure dance and expressions) and abhinaya (drama) based on the compositions of Annamacharya, Kshetragna or Siddhendra Yogi. For that matter, Sattvika abhinaya (divine gestural language) is considered the highlight of Andhra Natyam. The dancer also sings while dancing, so it is compulsory for the dancer to learn classical music. If she is unable to sing, she is supposed to give lip movement according to the supporting artiste who would sing in the background.
Source: The feminine tradition of Andhra Natyam by Vijay Shanker,

* 31 Aug 2021
Andhra Natyam, Perini Sivatandavam revived by Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna - Pinterest Collection
Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna  hailed from Telangana but was born in Bali in 1923 to Damayanti Devi and Rammohan Rao. Due to his dancing skills he was bestowed with the title 'Nataraja.'
He was responsible for reviving the ancient temple dance forms of Andhra Natyam and Perini.
He revived Perini from its description in the Nritta Ratnavalli written (in 1253-54) by Jayapa Senapati, the 12th century commander-in-chief of the Kakatiya armies, and its depiction in the sculptures of the famous Ramappa temple near Warangal in Telangana. Performed by the warrior worshippers of Shiva, this dance belongs to the Tandava tradition - quick in tempo and depicting Veera Rasa.

He is credited with the revival of the Andhra Natyam dance form, a devotional temple dance tradition performed in Andhra Pradesh for over 400 years that became virtually extinct. It took him nearly 2 decades to revive some features of the Telugu devadasi dances. He called it Andhra Natyam to classify it as a dance form that originated in Andhra Pradesh. There are two ancient dance traditions in India, Natya Mela performed by men, and Nattuva Mela, which women perform. Andhra Natyam belongs to the Nattuva Mela tradition. Andhra Natyam, the ancient classical dance form of the Telugu regions (Telangana, Rayalaseema and Andhra), was almost extinct for the past 2000 years. It is as old as our ancient culture and the temples. It was performed in the Buddhist Aramas, temples, and royal courts by the cultured and dedicated female artists of Telugu regions. Andhra Natyam was formerly known with different names like Aradhana, Kacheri, Darbar, Kelika, Chinna Melam, Mejuvani, and Dasi Ata. Andhra Natyam was revived in 1970s and is being propagated for the last 50 years at national and international platforms, particularly in the Telugu speaking regions.

He believed that folk art forms are as important as the classical forms and helped promote Chindu Yakshaganam, an ancient folk form of Telangana, and revived other folk arts like Tappetagallu of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, Veera Natyam and Garagalu of East and West Godavari districts, and dance tradition of temples performing Adhyatma Ramayana. He also encouraged folk dance artistes like Dommaras, Guravayyalu, Urumulu and Veedi Bhagavatulu.

Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna authored about 40 books on dance traditions of Andhra Pradesh and ancient dance forms.

Some of his foremost disciples include Uma Rama Rao, Kala Krishna, Alekhya Punjala, Perini Venkat, Raghava Kumari (first disciple of Nataraja Ramakrishna).

Read more Nataraja Tejam - A tribute to Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna by Vijay Shanker,
Andhra Natyam,