DANCE: Tribute to guru Kesava Prasad, the icon of Kuchipudi village

Contiguous the Bala Tripurasundari sanctuary stands a little decrepit structure that has stood quiet observer to the existence of Kuchipudi doyen Pasumarthy Kesava Prasad (1952-2021).

This structure is the place where Kesava Prasad resided for as far back as forty years, instructing and advancing the Kuchipudi dance structure that started in Kuchipudi town, in Krishna area, Andhra Pradesh.

Sangeet Natak Academy awardee Pasumarthy Rattayya Sarma, the most seasoned master living in Kuchipudi town, says: “Numerous masters have carried trees to the dance structure across the globe, yet Kesava’s commitment is very special, as he was instrumental in making a connection between the traditional dance crew and the town. He would welcome artists to our town; his method of celebrating social legacy.”

“Kuchipudi won’t have another master like him to advance its dance custom,” adds Sarma. During the 1980s and 1990s, when prestigious masters were advocating Yakshagana, Kesava supported independent Kuchipudi exhibitions.

A Sanskrit move on from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, he was the follower of Vedantam Parvateesam, Vempati Chinna Satyam and P.G.V. Krishna Sastry. As the supporter of Vempati, Kesava drove the 37-year-old Akhila Bharata Kuchipudi Natya Kala Mandali (ABKNKM) from its early stages.

Somewhere in the range of 1978 and 1983, Kesava did a stretch as low maintenance dance right hand at Sri Siddhendra Kalakshetram while filling in as a collaborator in the town government school. He started his two children — Mutyam (Kuchipudi master) and Hari (mridangam artiste) — into the Kuchipudi custom. The complex master was naturally introduced to a group of Kuchipudi and Yakshagana artistes, and his dad, Pasumarthy Subramanya Sastri, was a prestigious Yakshagana type.

Artist master Vedantam Radheshyam says, “As the author secretary of ABKNKM, Kesava satisfied the fantasies of days of old masters by transforming the town into a scene for traditional dance exhibitions. Numerous artists visited and were propelled to investigate its set of experiences and dance custom.”

Restoring the work of art

“In 2015, I consented to work with Kesava to restore the instructing of Kuchipudi in the town. It was because of his persistent effort that we had the option to run the Kuchipudi school at my master Vempati’s home. The town has lost an extraordinary researcher and dance history specialist, who has been the great hotspot for some academicians and artists,” says Bala Kondala Rao, additionally a Sangeet Natak Academy awardee.

V. Venkayya and S. Rama Krishna Rao, previous bad habit chancellors, Krishna University (KRU-Machilipatnam), concede that Kuchipudi dance turned into the substance of their establishment, and it was Kesava’s plan to begin the school in Kuchipudi town.

Says Chennai-based Vempati Venkat, child of master Vempati Chinna Satyam, “It’s an individual misfortune for me. After my dad’s downfall I used to counsel him on various parts of dance. He was the go-to man for most Kuchipudi artistes, instructors and dance researchers.”

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