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Exploring the science of art

Exploring the science of art
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Author of over 18 books and 100 research papers, Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao co-authored the book 'Nritta Ratnavali' along with dancer Yashoda Thakore...

Author of over 18 books and 100 research papers, Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao co-authored the book 'Nritta Ratnavali" along with dancer Yashoda Thakore which is the English translation of the 13th century work written by Jaaya Senapati, a general in the army of the Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva. ARUNA RAVIKUMAR exploMusic and Rhythm it is said find their way into the secret places of the soul. Combined with the prosody and poetics of literary works, the essence of the music and the exuberance of dance become vivid expressions reflecting every aspect and emotion of life. Providing a holistic view of dance music and literature, their inter linkages and origins, nuances and novelties is beyond the realm of an expert in any one discipline. An educationist, musicologist, dance critic and writer Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao has the rare distinction of being endowed with expertise in all these art forms. With masters in Telugu, English and Sanskrit and a Doctoral degree in Sanskrit and an All India Gold Medal in Business management he had a teaching assignment in different colleges and a long stint as Director of the American Institute of Indian studies, Chennai. Describing Chennai which is his home as a haven for art and culture, the Vizianagaram born Rao says it is here that his creativity and research on Indian arts and culture were nurtured.
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Author of over 18 books and 100 research papers his book 'Nritta Ratnavali" which he co-authored with dancer Yashoda Thakore is the English translation of the 13th century work written by Jaaya Senapati, a general in the army of the Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva. Stating that there was no book purely dedicated to dance after Bharata's "Natyashastra", he says this book by Jaaya Senapati is a unique work dedicated to dance and relevant to musicians, dancers and those associated with theatre. "Had this book been published before Nandikeswara's Abhinaya Darpana it would have been more famous than that" he says. "The book contains eight chapters on classical dance as well as desi or regional styles like Perini, Gondili, Kolatam and is devoted to all aspects of rasa, bhava and abhinaya that embellish it." Talking about the singular contribution of Kakatiya kings he says, their 300-year rule was a golden period where art, culture, sculpture and literature received patronage. The sculpture in different temples like Ramappa stand testimony to the skill and grandeur of the sculptors and all those interested in Telugu culture, literature and traditions are undoubtedly influenced by the Kakatiya culture according to him. Published by the Kakatiya Heritage Trust, the book is a veritable treasure for dancers and connoisseurs of art.
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Proud of hailing from Vizianagaram the birthplace of literary and music stalwarts like Gurazada Appa Rao and Ghantasala, Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao says literature and music were an inherent part of learning in his birth place. Initiated into Carnatic music and veena at an early age he also developed an interest in different dance forms. Associated with Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam the great exponent of Kuchipudi, he was instrumental in silencing critics who questioned the credibility of Kuchipudi as a classical form of dance. "After detailed research and analysis, we received much acclaim for our work which showed the authenticity and purity of Siddhendra Yogi's great work and its origin from Bharata's Natya Shastra," Rao says his voice reflecting the pride and satisfaction that he derived from this phenomenal effort. Another work of his which focused on the popular and unfortunately vanishing trend of Javalis which vanished from music concerts and remained marginalised in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam is the book titled "Bunch of Javalis". Javalis which were mainly love poems are mellifluous compositions with a great potential for "Abhinaya' or expression. The book contains 51 such compositions out of which ten are popular. Dr Rao has done the transliteration in Telugu, Kannada, English and Tamil and has preserved for posterity many works of beauty that would have been lost forever but for this effort. He transliterated into English, Rasamanjari a treatise dealing with the Nayika-Nayaka classification in Sanskrit originally authored by Bhanudatta who belonged to the 15th century and future projects include books on the research methodology for music and dance and a book on Muthuswamy Dikshitar. The book on Dikshitar from the famous Carnatic music trinity of Thyagaraja-Dikshitar and Shyama sastry explores the hidden secrets and mantras in his works. It looks at the prosody, poetics, religion and spirituality in his works apart from the music. Dr Rao's books are all veritable gems that add to the understanding of the works of great composers of yore and take them beyond borders to the world stage. A member of several eminent organisations, Music academies and the Sangeet Natak academy Delhi, Dr Rao is the recipient of countless awards and titles in recognition of his yeoman service to music, dance and literature. He gives extensive lectures, talks and conducts workshops on music and dance. His workshops spread over 8 days are held in different parts of the world and are in great demand. Dr Rao feels that the proposal to revive different academies being mooted in the state was a welcome move if the intention is promotion of culture and not political rehabilitation. Through his scholarly expositions, interpretations, workshops and lectures and his love for all forms of art and literature Dr. Rao makes an indelible impression and a lasting contribution that elevates all mankind from the realm of the ordinary to the ethereal.
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