Tuesday, August 5, 2008

July 16-19, 2008 - Kuchipudi in 4 days!

July 15th was my fellow Cancerian Anmisha's fifteenth birthday. On my way back from office, I got an invite to join her when she cuts the cake. After refreshing myself, I had my usual dinner and then rode my bike towards Woodbridge Terrace. I met Ajay at her house for the second time. Ajay is her Kuchipudi dance master, who came to United States for a performance and stayed at her house for a week to sightsee.

During our casual talk, Padma, Animisha's mother said,
"Ajay must be bored without teaching dance to someone!" .
Without much belief I asked: "Really??!! Can he teach me Kuchipudi while he is here?"
Padma: "Yes, of course, he'd love to do that anytime!"
We then decided to have my class starting next day.

Day 1 - Basic Steps
With much less enthusiasm, (b’coz my mother asked, what you are going to achieve by learning dance at this age?) I reached Anmisha's house around 8:05PM. Ajay was not there. Anmisha said that he had gone to Walmart with her mother. I was little disappointed, but then decided to wait for him. They came back around 8:40 and we started my first Kuchipudi class at 8:45. On my ride back home, I felt my blood has turned into something called ‘happiness’ and I was all thrilled.

Day 2 - Pallavi
Ajay decided to teach me a new item (term used to refer a full 'song'); since he felt that I am doing good on my basic steps. The song has inspiring truth about human existence, praising Lord Vishnu. Here is the English translation of Pallavi which I learned to dance.

"There is no differences of low & high.
All the beings in creation are one
because the indwelling spirit in every creature
is one and the same."

Day 3 - Charanam

Anmisha's dance class was prolonging when I reached her house. Unlike other dances, classical dance is a coordination of hand postures, facial expressions and leg movements. She mastered her hands and legs, but the facial expression was totally missing. Her face showed either that she's a little shy or as if this is only ‘Ajay master’ or a very big smile to hide her slips. There needs to be lot of practice to bring all three elements in motion at the same time. As I was learning my steps for Charanam, either all three or one or the other were dropping. I tried my best to align all factors, decimating my complexes which arose from inside now and then.
"Sleep is same to all, be it a king or a servant.
Be it a highest caste or lowest caste,
the earth they live on is the one and the same."

"The sensual pleasure is one and the same
either for angels or for the insects and animals.
The day and night are equal to the rich
as well as to the poor."

Day 4 - Charanam
I learned steps for the remaining Charanams. Ultimately I had my informal 'arangetram' with Anmisha.
"One could afford to eat tasty food and the other
the condemned food.
But the tongues that taste the food are alike.
An object of fragrance or an object of foul smell,
the air that carries the smell is one and the same."

"Be it an elephant or a dog,
the sun shines alike on both of them.
For the good and the bad,
Lord Venkateshwara alone is 'The Savior'"

I really should say something about Ajay here. He is a person with great determination who is completing his doctorate in Kuchipudi. He has performed in most of the places in India and booked to perform in temples all over Tamilnadu this year end. The best part of him is that he always dances the girl’s role which suits him pretty well.

I googled Ajay and to my wonder, he has an account with blogspot. Believe me, that is him in the photograph. http://kuchipudi-ajaykumar.blogspot.com/

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