Kuchipudi Dance Teacher Sri Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma from India
"Natyacharya" Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma comes from the lineage of Kuchipudi exponents of Kuchipudi village of India. He is not new to Coloradans, as he is coming to Denver for the past 5years. He recently visited Denver to conduct a dance workshop with Laya School of Dance, Parker. When DesiShades tried to contact him to get some time, he readily obliged the request. Despite of his busy schedule, he could get us some time amidst his workshop. We are bringing this for our readers.
Mr.PV Sarma was born to the couple Sri P.V. Chalapathi Sarma and Smt. Saraswathi in Kuchipudi Village. When asked about his background, to start the conversation, he mentioned, "I started learning dance at the age of 18. Sri Vedantam Rajasewara Sarma was my first guru and later I continued with Sri Krishna Sarma. Then I started learning dance from Sri Vempati China Satyam. Under his guidance we travelled many places and gave many performances. In 1998 we gave more than 50 performances in USA and Germany. He gave us a great encouragement and molded all of us into real artists".
DesiShades: Children normally start learning dance at a very young age. You started learning Dance at the age of 18. How did that interest develop at a later age?
PVS: Kuchipudi is the village where I was born and brought up. The dance is originated from this village. Most of the people residing in this village are into dance and music. Initially I never had any interest in Dance, but later in my life which is during my 17 years of age I started developing interest and started learning. Most of my friends are into dance and from where I developed interest and started learning.
DesiShades: What are your experiences with Dr Vempati China Satyam?
PVS: Vempati China Satyam lives in Chennai. I moved to Chennai to learn the dance from him. In the year 1982 he started a teacher's training course in Kuchipudi where I started learning from him at the age of 22. Learning dance and being a student of China Satyam is a greatest boon to all his students. I am so fortunate to be his student. He has explained a new style in Kuchipudi, which is now popular all over the world. He was the one who brought grace to the Kuchipudi dance style. Due all his efforts and hard work, today the whole world is able is visualize the dance form.
DesiShades: Tell us about your gurus
PVS: My first guru was Sri Rajesam. We were first friends and then became teacher and student. He used to perform all kinds of dances and dramas at his young age. Being so close to him and being a classmate, I started developing interest and started learning dance with him. He is now working as a Vice Principal in Kuchipudi Kalakshetram.
DesiShades: What is your dance style?
PVS: Kuchipudi is completely a traditional form of dance. I can clearly say that Kuchipudi is a true copy of Natya Shastara. Dr.China Satyam took a great care in bringing up the tradition. He made a curriculum for the dance and started teaching accordingly. I am proud to be his student.
DesiShades: Tell us about your Dance School?
PVS: I started teaching in 1980. In 1984, I started the dance school under the name Sri Bala Tripura Sundari Kuchipudi Natya Kalakshetram in Hyderabad, with the inspiration from my guru.
DesiShades: What are the eligibility requirements for dance exam and other details?
PVS: The Andhra Pradesh state government has designed a dance syllabus and all those who have attained 14yrs of age can give the certificate exam. Diploma will be offered after they have completed the certification. There should be a minimum of two years time between the certificate and Diploma. These exams are being offered for the past 40years. After the Telugu University has taken up Kuchipudi, they started a Master's degree course in Dance. Our dance school also has the provision for sending the students to give their exams. We first test them and if we think that the student is capable enough to give the exam, we will definitely encourage them. The exams have both theory and practical parts. Even for the practical exam we have a 4-yr course and the students have to learn certain dance items.
DesiShades: Difference between Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dance forms?
PVS: Kuchipudi dance style is originated form Andhra Pradesh, whereas Bharatnatyam is from Tamilnadu. Both dance forms are strictly traditional dance forms of India. The base for the dances is the Natya Sastra written by Sage Bharatha. Basic difference one can see in these styles is Abhinaya Darpana. There is a difference in the way of dressing and the dresses. Alankara is on the major difference. Both styles have different types of alankarana.
Theoretically, Kuchipudi is a dramatic dance style. Bharatanatyam is popularized as a solo performance. Only one person does most of the times. In olden days the drama itself used to have all forms like - dance, music, dialogues, sastra and silpa. Kuchipudi style has been developed based on these forms. Initially there used to be a story and based on it, all the characters get introduced one after the other. Time has changed where Bharatnatyam style turned to dramatic style and Kuchipudi dance style started solo performances.
Next comes, Bharatha has introduced four different forms of abhinaya - Aangikam, Vachikam, Satvikam and Aaharyam. Kuchipudi dance style uses all these forms. In Bharatnatyam vachikam is not really used. Most of the performance is shown through eye movements. But both the dance styles have the same importance and reputation.
DesiShades: Are there different styles of dances in Kuchipudi?
PVS: There has been a style of Kuchipudi for the past 100 years. But after Vempati China Satyam has come, different styles were introduced. All these were introduced with minor changes in the previous dance forms.
DesiShades: Children at what age is ideal for dance
PVS: Age is not a criterion for giving the performance. One should be proficient in giving performances. It takes nearly 6-7 years to get perfection and give performances and become a teacher. Frankly speaking after 10 years is the ideal age for the children to start learning. But now-a-days, the children were unable to continue the dance after 14 years because of their studies and other activities. So we are also encouraging the children of age 5 and up, to start learning the dance. So they can continue till their 14 years of age.
DesiShades: Can you brief us about your trip to America?
PVS: I came on July 5th and will be here in USA till December 15th. Till date I have given one performance and several workshops. I will be giving 10-12 performances before I leave the country.
DesiShades: Can you please explain about your dance ballets?
PVS: I am not a writer. We normally hire writers and make them write the script based on the ballet that we want to perform. Normally we use the old dance drama that was written way back in olden days. Mostly we follow the scripts that were written in the olden days.
My son is into dance. He teaches on behalf of me who takes care of the school in my absence. My students are in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago. Most of these were my students in India and moved to USA after their marriage. They invited me to USA to conduct the workshops and give performances.
DesiShades: Your experiences with other artists
PVS: As I was with my guru, I used to perform with all the senior artists. All of them were so respectful. As I worked with all the senior artists, I have developed the intention that I should be able to reach their position and used to work competitively and I am now able to do such beautiful performances.
DesiShades: What are your words to our children?
PVS: Kuchipudi is Andhra style dance form. It has to be introduced to the next generations to keep our heritage. It is a good thing that you have a guru like Mrs.Prathyusha here teaching the students. This teaches great discipline to your life.
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