A Day At The Kuchipudi Art Academy
by Sapna Rangaswamy, Baroda
e-mail: rangaswamy@satyam.net.in

At Kuchipudi Art Academy you don't only learn the art of dancing. You learn about the joy of life and to express that joy through your dance. Through dancing Kuchipudi.

For me it was like entering a new world. It was some kind of a culture shock for me after “Darpana”, where we had been taught to go with the times, perhaps even leap ahead of the times…

At the Kuchipudi Art Academy I came face to face with Lord Nataraja …not once but every moment that I stamped my foot to the Nattuvangam of Guru Sri Vempati Chinna Satyam.

Our school starts very early. We open our eyes to the sweet Carnatic song that someone would be practicing…so early in the morning. The atmosphere is of such quietitude that you could even listen to the morning song of the Academy's trees…..yes they also dance and sing. You can witness the opening of the red hibiscus flower….the ripening of the pomegranate fruit and the falling of a coconut from the top of the tree.

After getting through with morning rituals like washing our own clothes, cleaning our rooms and getting dressed for the morning practice sessions, we have our morning coffee and breakfast..cooked by one of us.

From 8 in the morning to 9am we have music class which all attend. At 9 am sharp Master (Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam ) or Ravi (his son) will come down the stairs to conduct the dance class. Class starts with the recitation of Slokas from the Natya Shastra. Then Adavus, Jathis, Pooja. Jathiswaram, …….the morning session actually ends early in the afternoon !!!

There is a simple lunch of Sambhar-Sadam, Curry and Thair , again cooked by one of us. And how can I forget to mention Amma's( Guru's wife) pickle !!

A little rest in the afternoon…only for a short while…because it is now almost time for dance class. The evening practice starts at 4 p m with Sanskrit lessons and ends at 7.30 or 8 pm.

Again, a simple dinner, a little preparation for the next day, and sleep comes easily to all the students. Lying on the floor, listening to the swirl of the wind and the fragrance from the different plants that abound in the compound…perhaps the sound of a coconut falling..which shall be picked up next morning……

A day at the Academy is like a dream that is visualised with open eyes.

Sapna Rangaswamy is a Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi exponent based in Baroda.