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Dance - Kuchipudi

* 29 May 2022
Early contributors
Chinta Venkataramayya (1860 - 1949)
Chinta Venkataramayya was a disciple of Venkataratnam, his elder brother, and Yeleswarapu Narayanappa. Founder of Vekatarama Nataya Mandali
Disciples: Vedantam Raghavayya Hari chalapati, vedantam Chalapati, vedantam Ramakrishnayya, Chinta Rama Murthy, Chinta Krishna Murthy and Pasumarti Venugopala Krishna Sarma.

Vempati Venkatanarayana (1871 - 1935)
Vempati Venkatanarayana was trained by his father Sri Kodandaraamayya. He was called ABHINAVA SATHYABHAAM.

Madhavayya Hari
Madhavayya started his dance training under his father Sriramulu and also was well versed in music.
He was fascinated by the Bhagavatamela dance dramas of Melathur Kasinathayya and borrowed the texts with a view to adopt it to Kuchipudi style.
Disciples: Chinta Venataratnam, Ramanatham and Hari Chalapat

Hari Venkatachalapati
Hari Venkatachalapati’s times are not clearly known but according to some sources he was supposed to have lived between early and late 19th century.

Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastry (1886 -1956)
Lakshminarayana Sastry learnt dance from Sri Vempati Venkatanarayana and with great ease and class performed Bhamakalapam and Gollakalapam. A master in both theoretical and Practical aspects of dance, music and talas. Lakshminarayana Sastry is credited for introducing solo system of dance in the otherwise traditional dance drama form of Kuchipudi. He introduced solo novelty items like tarangams (‘waves’) as divertissements within dance-dramas: the performer dances on a brass plate while balancing a full pitcher on the head. Abhinaya to compositions by traditional poets like Khettrayya and Annamacharya also became common.
Lakshminarayana Sastry was also pioneer in introducing the dance form to women, which till then was restricted only to men.
Titles: Natyakalanidhi, Shadbharathkalanidhi, Abhinaya Brahma
Disciples: Vedantham Jagannadha Sarma, Vempati Peda Satyam, Vempati Chinna Satyam and Ayyanki Thandava Krishna, Vijaya Prasad, Yamini Krishnamurthy .
He also trained the temple dancers, who include Duggirala Jagadamba of Mandapeta and Srirajitham. Non-Kuchipudi artistes like T. Bala Saraswathi, Ramayya Pillai, Mylapore Gouri Amma and Tara Chowdary came to him for training in Abinaya.
Source: ;

Bhagavathula Vissaiah
Many established dancers, such as Bharatanatyam legend Mylapore Gowriamma, went to Vissaiah to enhance their knowledge of abhinaya nuances.

Tadepalli Perayya ( 1886 - 1942 )
He was an expert in performing BHAMA and GOLLAKALAAPAS. Perayya is known more as a guru than as a performer. He trained DEVADAASIS of Meduru and Nangigadda, arranged performances by them and played the roles of SUTHRADHAARA (principal narrator). It is commendable that Perayya did not merely impart training to DEVADAASIS and make them good performers, but even played a reformatory role in molding their lives. He was the last to carry the tradition of dance in his family.
Dsciples: Vempati Chinna Satyam and Josyula Sitaramayya.

Vedaantham Ramakrishnaiah (1886 - 1971)
Ramakrishnaiah learnt dance from Chintha Venkataramayya and his elder brothers Venkatachalapathi, Venkateswara Sastry and Lakshminarayana; he was trained in music by Venkateswara Sastry (his brother) and Challapalli Sitharamayya. He worked with D.V.Subbarao in the Indian Dramatic Company at Machilipatnam. He also headed the group VEDAANTHAM VAARI MELAM. He tried to bring in appropriate costumes and stage dcor in his dance dramas.

Punnaya Hari (1890 - 1970)
Punnaya Hari was trained by his father Venkatachalapathi. He was also a skilled artisan in making dance ornaments.

Mahankaali Chinna Sathyanarayana (1904 - 1977)
Second son of Sri Sriraamulu, Mahankaali Sathyanarayana received his early training in dance form from his father and later from Chintha Venkataramayya and music from Challapalli Sitharaamayya. He worked under the banner of MAHANKAALI MELAMU for a long time with Vedaantham Raaghavayya, Bhaagavathula Sathyanaaraayana, Darbha Venkateswarlu and Vedaantham Ramayya as his colleagues. After Vedaantham Raaghavayya’s entry in to the film world, he rejoined VENKATARAMA NATYAMANDALI.

Chinta Radhakrishna Murthy (1910 - 1988)
Radhakrishna Murthy was initiated into dance by his father Narayana Murthy and later continued with Chinta Venkataramayya and Vempati Venkatanarayana. In the later period of his dance career he travelled far and wide of the country giving performances with Chinta vari melam. An excellent teacher, he produced students of notable standards
Disciples: Chinta Adinarayana Sarma, Anuradha jonnalagadda and Jyothirmayi.

Chinta Krishna Murthy (1912 - 1969)
Chinta Krishnamurthy, the son of Chinta Venkataramayya, who founded the famous Venkatarama Natya Mandali troupe was born in 1912 in Kuchipudi village, Krishna district. He trained a generation of Kuchipudi actor-dancers, including the legendary Vedantam Satyam. But his lasting contribution was the organization of the Venkatarama Natya Mandali on a sound footing, touring with it through Andhra Pradesh and other parts of India, and making art lovers aware of the Kuchipudi legacy. He played a crucial part, along with Banda Kanakalingeswara Rao, in establishing the Shri Siddhendra Kalakshetram in Kuchipudi, the premier institution imparting traditional training in the form.
Disciples: Jayarama Rao.

Pasumarti Subrahmanya Sastry (1915)
Subrahmanya Sastry had his initial training in dance from his grandfather, Mahankali Chalapati, who moulded him perfectly in the characters of Lohitasya, Prahlada, Lava and Kusa; received advanced training in the female roles from Yeleswarapu Satyanarayana, Musti Chidambara deekshtulu, Chinta Krishna murthy and Srirama Murthy. He worked as a teacher in Siddhendra Kalakshetra at Kuchipudi for some time.
Disciple: Bokka Krishna Murthy

Vedantam Raaghavayya (1919 - 1971)
Raaghavayya started his formal training in Dance (Yakshagana) and Music (Yakshna Sampradaya Sangeetam) from his own father at a very tender age of five and later he continued under the tutelage of Yakshagana Pitamaha Sri Chinta Venkararamayya and Sri Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastry. He had also mastered the languages of Sanskrit & Telugu from one of his cousin and scholar, Bhagavatula Sitaramaswami. He made his debut performance at the age of seven, as Prahlada, which was awarded at many quarters including a Gold medal by the British Government.

Vedantam Paarvathisam (1920 - 2005)
He was trained by Yeleswarapu Sitharaamaanjaneyulu, Chinta Venktaramayya, Vedantam Ramakrishnaiah. He gave performances in the Jaipur and Delhi Congress sessions and performed all over India. One of the founder members of SIDDHENDRA KALAKSHETRA, along with Banda Kanakalingeswara Rao at Kuchipudi in 1957. Since its inception, he worked there and retired as its Principal.
He was a prolific writer too; his PAARATHISU KIRTHANALU and dance dramas were regularly published in NATYAKALA, a monthy journal dedicated to arts, dance and drama, in particular published by Andhra Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi, Hyderabad. Hereceived first prize in 1991 for one of his books from the Telugu University.
The singular contribution of Paarvathisam to the field of Kuchipudi lay in the preparation and compilation of the basics of Kuchipudi dance mainly meant for the learners and also the documentation of a few traditional dance dramas and PAGATI VESHAS.
Vedantam Parvatisam was the first to record the patakasharas (solfa syllables) used for the basics of Kuchipudi in his book "Nritya Tarangini" published in 1988.
Vedantam Parvatisam also added certain variations to some steps. The innovations mainly occured in the domain of executing the movement and its body kinetics and in the addition of variations.
Disciples: Pasumarthy Rattaiah Sarma, Yeleswarapu Nageswara Sarma, Chintha Ramamu, Jayarama Rao, Pasumarthi Kesava Prasad, Bhaagavathula Mohan Rao.
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Vempati Peda Sathyanarayana (1922 - 1982)
Popularly known as Peda Satyam, he had his primary training in dance at the age of thirteen under Chintha Venkataramayya and received advanced training from Vedantham Lakshminarayana Sastry. He also learnt Bharathanatyam and Kathakali from Ramgopal of Bangalore and was drawn towards the art of painting by Adavi Baapiraju.
The most popular dance director in South Indian film field, his specialty in dance was blending of classical with modern. He started his career as dance director with BHAKTHIMAALA (1941), in which his disciple Bhanm acted. He directed dance for almost three hundred films in Telugu, Tamil Canarese and Hindi, they include films like NARTHANASALA, SUVARNA SUNDARI, PANDAVA VANAVASAM, SRI KRISHNA PANDAVEEYAM and KALYANAM.
He wrote many research articles on Kuchipudi that were published in several papers and journals like NATANA, MURALI, SURYAPRABHA, MATHRBHUMI and DHANKA.
He established KUCHIPUDI KALAKENDRA in 1948.
Disciples: Vedaantham Sathyanarayana Sarma, Sumathy Kaushal and Yadavalli Rama

Vedaantham Jagannaadha Sarma (1922 - 1982)
He was trained by his father Lakshminaaraayana Sastry. Vedaantham Jagannaadha Sarmais known or his excellent portrayal of female characters, like SATHYABHAAMA, USHA and GOLLABHAAMA.
He shifted to Madras and entered the film world as dance director and was associated with nearly fifty films in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Oriya languages. Notable films - ILAVELPU, CHENCHULAKSHMI,I RATNA PRABHA, BANGARUPAPA and KALAIARASI, THAI ILLA PILLAI.
He established KUCHIPUDI KALAKSHETRAM in 1965
Dsciples: Akella Shanti Sastri (his daughter), Sumathy Kousha, Krishna Kumari, Shanthi Akella, Bharathi, Nilimma Devi, Usha Gayathri and R. Vijaya Lakshmi.

Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna (March 31, 1923 - June 7, 2011)
He revived Andhra Natyam, one of the most ancient classical dance forms of India. He recreated the "Perini Sivathandavam", the militant male dance tradition of the 10th century AD. He has revived 'Navajanardanam', a great Prabandha dance tradition that was performed in Kunthi Madhava Temple at Pithapuram in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna choreographed and staged "Sri Venkateswara Kalyanam", "Kumara Sambhavam" and "Megha Sandesam".

Mahakali Sriramulu (1927)
Sriramulu is a well-known male character actor; trained initially by his father, he was shaped later by Vedantam Parvatisam and Chinta Krishna Murthy. Associated with Venkatarama Natyamandali in the initial years of his performance, he was adept in conducting the dance dramas as Sutradhara.

Pasumarti Krishna Murthy (1927- 2004)
Krishna Murthy is the disciple of Chintha Venkataramayya and Chintha Ramamurthy. Specially known for his ABHINAYA he was popular for his female roles of SATHYABHAAMA,GOLLABH, USHA and SASIREKHA; as an young artist, he was associated with CHINTHA VAARI MELAM, which trained and shaped him in the exquisite portrayal of female characters.
He entered the film field and directed dance for nearly two hundred filmsin Telugu, Tamil, Canarese, Malayalam and Hindi. His most popular films include MALLISWARI,MAHAAKAVI KAALIDAASU, MAAYABAZAAR, MISSAMMA, VINAAYAKA CHAVITHI, SIRI SIRI MUVVA and MEGHASANDESAM.

C.R.Acharyalu ( - 1998)
C.Rama Acharyalu was from Nuzvid, Krishna district. He was a disciple of Vedantham Laxminarayana Shastry. Before beginning his teaching career at Darpana, Ahmedabad, he had established "Nataraja Nritya Samiti at Eluru in 1951.
He was authority in Karnaas, Tandavams and Pherani Nrityam (Pherani natyam is an art where the dancer performs the tandava, balancing on an earthen pot - representing Siva's dance on the spherical universe). He had conducted research in temple ritual dances and brought back to lime light once forgotten Prenkhini dance forms - Simhanandini, Mayura Kauthvam and Mahalaxmi Udbhavam dances, in which the dancer forms the holy portraits with footwork. . His daughter,Voleti Rangamani was closely associated in his research work.
Books authored: "Srinivasa Ramayana" for leather puppet performance ; "Aradhana Nrityamulu", a treatise on Kuchipudi in Telugu, "Understanding Kuchipudi" along with Mallika Sarabhai
Awards: Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award (1978), Andhra Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Gujarath Sangeet Nritya Natak Akademi award.
Disciples: Mallika Sarabhai, Smita Rajesh Sastri, Bharat Barbhaiya, Korada Narasimha Rao, Uma Rama Rao, SUvarna Latha, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Samarpita Bajpai, Asha Parekh (hindi film actress), Raja Sulochana (Tamil film actress), Neeraja G.Pal.
Source: ; "Kuchipudi - Indian Classical Art form" by Sunil Kothari / Avinash Pasricha

Vedantam Prahlada Sarma (1923 - 1991)
Vedantam Prahlada Sarma, the elder brother and teacher of Vedantam Satyam (Satyanarayana Sarma) was born in Kuchipudi village, Krishna district. He received his initial training from his father Rattayya and Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri, Vempati Venkatanarayan and other members of the family. He mastered both male and female roles and had a sound knowledge of music, all of which brought him acclaim at performances in India and abroad. In 1964, He moved to Eluru, as a principal of Kalakshetram and trained several dancers including his brother Vedantam Satyam.
Disciples: Pasumarthy Rattaiah Sarma, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Sunanda Devi , Raja and Radha Reddy, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Nilimma Devi, Jaya, Bharati
Source: ; "Kuchipudi - Indian Classical Art form" by Sunil Kothari / Avinash Pasricha

Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam (1929 - 2012)
Born in a traditional family of dancers in the village of Kuchipudi, Andhra Pradesh, Vempati Chinna Satyam received his initial training from Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry, a great master in the field and later from Tadepally Perrayya Sastry. At the age of 18 he travelled to Chennai and underwent rigorous training under his cousin, Vempati Pedda Satyam who was a well-established dance director in the film world. Vempati started the "Kuchipudi Art Academy" at Madras in the year 1963.