Looking to revive Kuchipudi, the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to set up an academy dedicated exclusively to the promotion of the iconic dance form both at home and abroad.
The state government has proposed to build the 'Kuchipudi Natyaramam' (Kuchipudi dance academy) at Kuchipudi village in Krishna district in coastal Andhra, where the dance form was born more than six centuries ago.
Anand Kuchibhotla, an NRI who has been working for the promotion of Telugu language and culture through his US-based organisation 'Silicon Andhra', has been appointed as the chairman of the Natyaramam.
Silicon Andhra had entered the Guinness World Records in 2012 for organising the largest Kuchipudi event in Hyderabad comprising 5,794 participants.
"Kuchipudi came down from generation to generation through the 'guru-sishya' tradition. Over the years, the legends created certain standards and patterns. But in the present times, it has to compete and fight against several other activities...
"We observed over the last six years that by holding an international Kuchipudi convention, we were able to bring the excitement back among the youth. If we create the right environment, the youth are ready to turn to Kuchipudi," Mr Anand told PTI here.
The proposed Natyaramam is to have six functional divisions -- collection and preservation, research, teaching, publication, recognition of artistes, and exhibition.
"We would like to build the Natyaramam with the intention that the people who visit, the elders, should feel that they need to get their youngsters take up Kuchipudi. Youngsters should feel that they must imbibe the art form," said Ms Anand, who last week took over as the chairman of Natyaramam.
Ruing the absence of any proper archiving or preservation of material -- either the 'Yaksha Ganam' or other aspects of the dance form -- he said it was high time that such an initiative was taken up.
The Natyaramam -- proposed to be set up on a 100-acre complex -- will have world-class "interactive and immersion technologies" so that the tech-savvy youth of today can "play" with the content, he said. A state-of-the-art movie theatre is also proposed.
P Raghunath Reddy, the state minister for information and public relations, said, "Andhra Pradesh government is committed to promoting Telugu language and culture and the Kuchipudi academy is a step in that direction."
"If we have sophisticated classrooms, then international students would come and learn. We want to create that kind of an environment," he said, adding that there should be extensive research opportunities.
He also proposed that Kuchipudi village can emerge as a tourist destination by being promoted as a heritage site.
He said that students of Kuchipudi can learn their baby steps in the village and come back for their 'Ranga Pravesam' (arangetram). The Natyaramam would also like to provide the ways and means for teaching Kuchipudi in schools, he said.
"Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu wants that at least somebody in every home should start learning Kuchipudi. That's the reach-out campaign. For that, this (Natyaramam) should be the nerve-centre," Mr Anand said.
Noting that about 25,000 students could be learning Kuchipudi across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, he said the goal was to take that figure up to several lakhs in the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, even as the state government works on acquiring land for the institution, Anand said he has travelled and met officials of the American National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, School of Arts, Smithsonian Design Museum. The technology being used at those reputed institutions came as an eye-opener for him, he said.
Mr Anand said he had entered Natyaramam as a member of the American Alliance of Museums, an international body.
"In the US, museums and cultural complexes are state-of-the-art and the way they have developed systems over the last 100 years, there is no parallel to it. The Chief Minister wants to build this," he said.