Who is a dancer? Is dancing gracefully to the rhythm with appropriate abhinaya enough for one to be called a dancer? Maybe in today's parlance.
The various treatises on dance, apart from the physical attributes, define the qualities of a dancer as a person who is learned, who speaks sweetly, is eloquent, confident, of sweet voice, well versed in geeta - vaadya and above all learned in shastras / treatises on arts. Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara defines these qualities of a Nata / Nartaka (actor / dancer). One may think that such people can only be found in theory or in textbook definitions, but one would be surprised to know that there are living examples of "dancers" who possess the defined qualities.
This writer was fortunate to meet, interact and know about one such versatile Kuchipudi exponent Vedantam Venkata Rama Raghavayya, popularly known as Vedantam Raghava. Raghava hails from the Kuchipudi village of Krishna District in Andhra Pradesh. He is the elder child of Vedantam Rattaiah Sarma and Rajyalakshmi, belonging to the 'Vedantam' family - one of the hereditary Brahmin families of the Kuchipudi village.
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