Jyothi Lakkaraju

South Indian Kuchipudi

Kuchipudi derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram in Andhra Pradesh, India.  Kuchipudi – a classical form of dance, drama, and music – was originally a male dance tradition.  Groups of men traveled from village to village, enacting stories from Hindu mythology.  As in Elizabethan theatre, men portrayed the roles of women.  It is only in the last century that women have been introduced to this art form.  Kuchipudi is characterized by fast rhythms and fluid movements, with a unique blend of control and abandon, strength and delicacy.  Kuchipudi has a rich repertoire of kalapas (lyrical opera), yakshaganas (a complete story line), dance dramas, and solos.

Jyothi Lakkaraju obtained her initial training in Kuchipudi from Guru Sri Chinta Radha Krishna Murthy and his son Sri Chinta Adinarayana Sarma.  Later, she received advanced training in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam from Dr. Uma Rama Rao, director of Lasya Priya, a school dedicated to Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam.  Apart from her own performing career, Jyothi has taught Kuchipudi in the Bay Area for over 15 years.  In 2000, Jyothi founded Natyalaya Kuchipudi School of Dance in San Jose.

Jyothi participated in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2009 with apprentice Shaalini Bommakanti.  Emphases during their apprenticeship included focusing on abhinaya (facial and body expression used to convey emotion), character dancing, and the distinctive and challenging Kuchipudi tarangam dance.