Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We lost great Telugu Dance guru

Doyen of Kuchipudi Vempati passes away

Hyderabad/Vijayawada: Renowned Kuchipudi dance guru Vempati China Satyam passed away in Chennai on Sunday. He was 83. Recipient of numerous awards, including Padma Bhushan, Vempati died of old age related ailments, sources said here.

Born in Kuchipudi village in Krishna district of coastal Andhra Pradesh, where the Kuchipudi dance originated, Vempati strove for popularising the unique dance form across the world. He is hailed for refining the dance form by introducing new elements into it, and for training hundreds of students in Kuchipudi in Chennai. Vempati was awarded Padma Bhushan, an honorary doctorate from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, and several other awards from different state governments and other institutions.

According to his closest disciples, China Satyam was not only a passionate exponent of the dance form, but also a great reformer. For, in those days, only men in Brahmin community were eligible to train in Kuchipudi dance. Women, even those from the Brahmin community, were not eligible to learn the dance. It was Vempati who broke the mould and created awareness not only in the community, but among people at large.

It was he who extended the glory of the dance from Kuchipudi to different parts of the globe. He trained nearly 10, 000 students, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Union Minister for Human Resources Purandeswari and several top film actresses in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi film industry. Several of his students are teaching dance and working as heads of various government and non-governmental organisations in Krishna district and elsewhere.

China Satyam was held in high esteem in Chennai, where the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and yesteryear hero MG Ramachandran allotted him a 1500 square yard site for his residence. Vempati developed Kuchipudi Natya Academy at the site.The present Chief Minster Jayalalithaa had also allotted funds for developing the academy.China Satyam has left an indelible mark in Kuchipudi village and its surroundings in Krishna district, where his moorings lie. He visited Kuchipudi last year and was felicitated three months ago in Vijayawada.

One of his daughters, Kasi Annapurna, married Hari Srinivas, a railway employee based in Vijayawada. He used to visit Vijayawada frequently to call on his daughter until about three years ago, after which his knee joint problem worsened.

He left Krishna district in 1952 and walked all the way to Chennai, where, at the instance of his brother, started Kuchipudi Natya Academy. He used to visit Kuchipudi village at least once a year.
China Satyam’s eldest son Ravi Shankar is equally proficient and well-trained under his illustrious father’s tutelage, but down with some health-related problems.

Guru to many: CM
Hyderabad: Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy expressed his grief over the demise of China Satyam. The Chief Minister said: “Vempati China Satyam was a great dance exponent and a guru to many of the top dancers.” The Chief Minister conveyed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members.

Tourism and Culture Minister V Vasant Kumar said the China Satyam had dedicated his life to Kuchipudi. “China Satyam spread the dance around the world by giving performances in about 60 countries and training about 10,000 pupils,” the minister said. Related reports: P5

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