What may be a loss to IT field, is a win-win for Kuchipudi. Ravi G, Kuchipudi dancer, who began his journey by balancing academics and passion, finally quit his high paying techie job to remain rooted to Dance. In a free-wheeling chat with Natyahasini, Ravi reveals, that being known as Ravi Kuchipudi is the best recognition for him. “I pursued Masters in Computer Applications from Osmania University, which really helped me in the beginning of my dancing career. As I had a strong passion in dance, I quit my job and instead of being known as Ravi G, I am now known as Ravi Kuchipudi, which is the best recognition,” he says beamingly.
Ravi has been wooing the Telugu audience with his Kuchipudi art. “As salt is needed for cooking, I have established a connect with the audience of the two Telugu speaking states with the Kuchipudi art form and aim to scale greater heights,” he admits.
Sharing his journey from shishya to a Guru, the Kuchipudi dancer says that it was really hard. “Every step was challenging for me. My belief in my passion has helped me to carve a place in the Kuchipudi world. Every hard work has been answered. Today, my success is thanks due to the blessings of my parents and gurus,” says Ravi. For his primary education, the dancer went to a Gurukul Hostel where his first dance teacher was Sulochana Garlapadi, who took a couple of classes a week. “Ma’am noticed the spark in me and encouraged me to dance,” recalls Ravi.
Enrolled in Courses: After moving to Hyderabad, Ravi seized the opportunity of learning at the Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University and joined the Kalaparichayam course, which was an entry point for young and upcoming dancers, and later the Kalapraveshika course. There he came in contact with Guru Rudravaram Sudhakar Garu. “It was my first and best experience of learning and got mesmerised by his teachings and decided to join his classes for a one-on-one learning. Dance sessions with him were very beautiful,” he says. Elaborating on the Kalaparichayam and Kalapraveshika courses conducted by PS Telugu University, he says that youngsters learn basics of the dance form, both practical and theory.
Later, Ravi Kuchipudi enrolled under Guru Vedantam Satya Narasimha Shastri Garu, the eldest son of the legendary Guru Vedantam Radheyshyam Garu, which gave him an opportunity to participate in dance-dramas, frequently playing the lead roles. “It was the best choice to join Guru Vedantam Satya Narasimha Shastri Garu as he taught us the pure traditional flavour. I was really lucky that he took me under his wings and I was able to improve my dancing skills. I thank God for all the wonderful gurus in my life,” he says with gratitude.
Hearing of a Kuchipudi workshop to be conducted by Padma Bhushan Shri Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam garu, Ravi jumped at the opportunity. “My desire to learn from the legend Padma Bhushan Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam garu got fulfilled. He is the most popular guru, who gave form to Kuchipudi syllabus. And having a chance to learn from a man of that stature was a boon. I became serious of dance only after I saw Master Garu in Kuchipudi village,” Ravi says.
Beauty in Choreography: Spelling out the beauty in classical dance choreography, Ravi states that following the texts of Natya Shastra, all dancers choreograph according to their imagination. “So, it basically defines how strong you are in history and mythology, which in turn would be the choreography as well. Every movement, mudra and expression should reach the audience with meaning, instead of explaining it orally,” says the artist. He quickly adds that there are some compositions in dance/music, which artists don’t meddle with. “Likewise, choreography done by distinguished gurus, are left sacrosanct. We don’t touch them,” he tells.
The Kuchipudi natyachar says that all gurus are expected to have basic knowledge in singing and he has survived all these years because of his singing. On survival during pandemic, Ravi says it has been tough for performing artists. “Being ambassadors of arts, we are all having a tough time. It was tough to handle basics for beginners through online classes. This was where my computer knowledge gave me a boost to survive with technology and now, I have students all around the globe. Also, I am teaching through videos and encouraging students to take certifications too,” he says.
The Kuchipudi dancer requests all parents to encourage and support their children in pursuing Indian art forms. “Pursuing Indian traditional art forms will boost the nation’s cultural diversity and keep the country’s flag flying high on the cultural world map,” Ravi says.