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Dance, Aditi Chitre, Dance: Kuchipudi & the Art of Balancing Pots

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Dance, Aditi Chitre, Dance: Kuchipudi & the Art of Balancing Pots

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Historically, people have always taken pride in their individuality and relished the idea of expressing themselves in unique styles. These can include poetry, drawing, writing, or fashion, but for sophomore Aditi Chitre, dance is her passion. Chitre is a dedicated Kuchipudi dancer. Kuchipudi is a very important part of her life since she began lessons at the age of five with her guru, otherwise known as her dance teacher. This specific type of dance is significant to her Indian culture and family.
“Dance is a way that I can feel more connected to my religion and culture by expressing it in an art form,” Chitre said.
Kuchipudi is a popular classical Indian dance form that originates from South India. Chitre’s mother
who is from central India, had performed a similar type of dance when she was younger, and wanted her daughter to participate in Indian dance too. The dance is famous for its complicated movements, upbeat rhythm, and dramatic narrative. Kuchipudi dancers perform with precision, grace, balance, and complicated yet fluid movements. It takes nearly a decade for Kuchipudi dancers to master their artform. The dramatic dance involves the ability to clearly depict specific emotions using rhythm, facial expressions, and specific footwork.
“The one I specialize in [Kuchipudi] is different since it’s an individual dance and because it’s mainly associated with culture, religion, and depicting specific scenes,” Chitre said.
Chitre just made her debut (Ranga Pravesam) as a Kuchipudi dancer on Aug. 29, 2015, which is seen as an enormous accomplishment. Ranga Pravesam is an important step taken by Kuchipudi dancers en route to becoming full-fledged artists and performing on a grander scale. The Ranga Pravesam is where the dancer enters a stage in front of an audience for the first time after preparing for almost 10 years. Achieving such an advanced level of skill takes a lot of dedication and determination, both of which
Chitre has displayed since she started classes with her guru at the age of five.
“I knew that once I was done with this, it would be very physically and mentally rewarding. I finally completed this accomplishment that I have been trying to achieve for so long,” Chitre said.
In the preparation required for her Ranga Pravesam, Chitre attended four practice sessions, each lasting
four hours. She would begin by stretching, a “warm up” dance, and practicing her dances for the showcase. Practicing consisted of making minimal adjustments to several different dances and sometimes spending three hours learning the choreography for only one dance.
“The Ranga Pravesham was very demanding in the way that I had to memorize almost two-hours worth of dance steps, each one having to be perfectly precise in facial expression and posture,” Chitre said.
The dances in Kuchipudi explain concepts from Hindu mythology. Chitre performed eight dances at her Ranga Pravesam. Chitre’s favorite dance is the Tarangam, which tells the story of Krishna, a God from Hinduism, by acting out the God. The dance requires many facial expressions, making it quite the exercise in dancing and acting. In this specific dance, Chitre performs difficult footwork while standing on the rim of a brass plate and balancing a pot of water on her head. The most difficult dance for Chitre
is called Shivastruti, which contains the least amount of breaks and requires constant dancing for 13 minutes. It is a very complicated and difficult dance to perform but also very exciting to watch. Chitre’s childhood friend, Anude Sarode has witnessed Chitre’s dedication to dance. When she saw Aditi perform for the first time in front of an audience, Sarode was impressed.
“I had never been to one of her practices before I saw the showcase, so my jaw fell to the floor when I finally saw the reason behind all those days I received a “I have practice I can’t hang out” text. It was amazing to see how all the different components of the dancing she’d told me about in bits and pieces came together and formed the most visually stunning and beautiful dance I’ve ever seen,” Sarode said.
Her impressive performances have proved her exceptional ability as a dancer. Chitre plans on continuing her dance lessons now that she is a full-fledged artist. She will continue to participate in future showcases under her guru.
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Dance, Aditi Chitre, Dance: Kuchipudi & the Art of Balancing Pots