A Living Portrait of India
|India Heritage:Performing Arts:Dance:Folk Dance|
Bhama refers to Satyabhama , Krishna's beautiful but jealous wife and kalpam means complaint or argument. Bhamakalpam is both a theatre form (like Gollakalpam) and a drama. The drama was created by Siddhendra Yogi in the seventeenth century for the devotional use of Kuchipudi performers. The theatre is performed by several troupes in Andhra Pradesh and is a fine example of the feminine movements in dance (lasya) as opposed to the masculine tandava movements of Kathakali and Yakshagana.
It the new name (twentieth century) for the theatre known as Jangam Katha. The jangams were wandering minstrels who worshipped and sang of Siva. Two performers participated in these plays: the storyteller and his wife. With societal and cultural changes, the secular aspect was incorporated into this form.
Burra refers to the tambura, a musical instrument played by the storyteller (kathakudu). This main player beats music in another manner, too - he wears a metal ring on his right thumb, and holds another like ring in his hand. He also introduces the story, which is inevitably based on history or mythology. The co-artists are constantly addressed by him.
These are the drummers who stand on either side of the kathakudu: on the right, the Rajkiya, who maintains a social and political commentary; to the left, the hasyam clown for comic relief. They play the dakki (earthen drums of two heads) which are an essential part of a Burrakatha show.
Kuchipudi is the name of a village in the Krishna river delta; it also refers to any dance following the set style. The Nawab of Golconda, Abdul Hasan Qutab Shah, bequeathed this village to the formerly Brahmin artists sometime between 1672 and 1687. Inscriptions on a copper plate commemorate this event. There are references to Kuchipudi performances at the court of King Vira Narsimha Raya of the Vijaynagar kingdom between 1505-09. Similarities with Bharat Natyam - the oldest of the classical dance form as detailed by the Natyashastra - place Kuchipudi at a much earlier period of history. Following the traditions of the Natyashastra has in no way alienated Kuchipudi from its folk roots. Thus, Kuchipudi remains a beloved folk theatre and enjoys the tremendous dignity of the classical world.
Kuchipudi repertory consists of plays (in Telugu) on the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The plays are: Prahlad Charitram, Usha Parinayam, Rukmini Kalyanam, Sashirekha Parinayam, Mohini Rukmangada, Harishchandra Nataka, Rama Natakam, and Gayopakhyanam.
The dance - form itself has many highlights. For example, in one, the dancer executes extremely complicated dance steps on the edge of a metal plate while holding a water container. Not a single drop is spilled!
Troupes travel all the time, performing in the open space before a temple. Prayers to the goddess Amba inaugurate the evening, followed by a boy holding the replica of the jarjara (flagstaff) of Indra. This ceremonial practice is in precise accordance with the dictates of the Natyashastra. The play is announced by the stage manager (sutradhar) carrying a kuttilaka (a misshapen stick).
The music is in the Carnatic style and instruments include the mridangam drums, a traverse bamboo flute, violin, cymbals and the harmonium.
The staging of a performance usually entails no scenery.
Siddhendra Yogi is credited with the dance dramas that constitute modern Kuchipudi. He is also the playwright of Bhamakalapam, and asked of the Brahmins that they play the role of Satyabhama at least once in a lifetime. The Brahmins have adhered to that promise. There is speculation over Kuchipudi and Yakshagana, Some believe that Siddhendra Yogi taught Kuchipudi in Karnataka, giving rise to Yakshagana; others hold that he learned Yakshagana, and Kuchipudi evolved from that form.
Refers to the complaint or argument (kalapam) of the female cowherd (Golla or Gopi). This was created in the late nineteenth century by Bhagavatulu Ramayya. This form is derived from Kuchipudi, and is also known as Vithi Bhagavata. The songs are all in the Carnatic style, and are accompanied by the mridangam drum.
Once the preliminaries are performed by the sutradhar (stage manager), the maiden appears on stage, dancing behind a curtain held aloft by attendants. The dance steps become increasingly intricate once the curtain is removed. She is accompanied by a secondary dancer who persists with simple steps. The sutradhar, now dressed as the clown (vidushaka) engages the golla in a highly satirical conversation. Society and all its attendant ills are discussed.