Meenu Thakur & Kuchipudi
Meenu Thakur: Eminent Kuchipudi exponent, culture columnist, Founder of SURAMYA and dance Guru.
India has a rich History of music, art, and dance. Indian classical dances have been intricately explained in two ancient works Natyashastra (Science of Dance) and Abhinaya Darpana (Mirror of Gesture). According to the Natyashastra, written by a saint Bharat Muni, Lord Brahma, created a new Veda called the Natyaveda. It is believed that Indian classical dances owe their origins to Natyashastra, the treatise of dance.
Kuchipudi Dance Form
Kuchipudi, the dance form of Andhra Pradesh ,is one of the oldest classical dance form. Originally from the Krishna district, of Andhra Pradesh, Abhinaya (emotion) and Rasa (essence of emotion) hold forte in Kuchipudi. Kuchipudi is synonymous with expression, quick-paced movements and gestures.
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Its range and depth stand unparalleled. Over the years, there have been many dancers who have embellished the dance form and made it their own. Every generation of Kuchipudi dancers has its own tale to weave and without an iota of doubt, Kuchipudi is a thriving art form of the present day.
Meenu Thakur’s Dance Guru
Meenu Thakur is one of the leading Kuchipudi dance exponents of India. Meenu has been associated with classical dance since childhood. Meenu Thakur was learning Kathak for a sustained period of time. But a childhood accident that resulted in a broken leg, almost ended her dream of becoming a dancer. But a determined Meenu fought the odds and a chance meeting with her first Guru propelled her towards Kuchipudi. There was no looking back since then. Through intense training and practice, Meenu became a fine exponent of Kuchipudi dance. Meenu was also fortunate to have been tutored by renowned Gurus like Padma Shri Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao.
Meenu Thakur : A Kuchipudi Danseuse
Meenu Thakur has flair and grace for a complex classical dance style. Her style represents a combination of the feature of “Purusha Sampradaya” (original male dance tradition) of Kuchipudi and its ‘Anuroopa’ (transformation of the male dance style into female interpretation). Meenu Thakur (Know more about her) has been the face of a generation of Kuchipudi danseuses, having performed in various national and international fora with aplomb and refinement.
Despite being a North-Indian Rajput, Meenu’s comprehension of the nuances of Kuchipudi in Telugu language, has been her strong-point. Meenu’s innovations in Kuchipudi choreography has left the audience spellbound. She is perhaps the first dancer to have performed Bhamakalapam (a traditional Kuchipudi dance drama) in Hindi, and her production “Yashodara-The Sage’s Queen”, based on the novel of Maithili Sharan Gupt, was a landmark attempt in introducing classical Hindi literature to Kuchipudi dance stage.
Awards and Achievements of Meenu Thakur as Kuchipudi Exponent
Meenu has been a recipient of many awards like the National Nritya Shiromani Award in 2015, Rashtriya Nirman Puraskar in 2015, Safari Travel Award 2016, Swami Vivekananda and Sister Margaret Award in 2016 for social inclusion through dance, Global Fashion and Design Week Award 2017, and the National Nritya Ratna Award 2017, for contribution to Kuchipudi dance.
She has had the distinction of performing at Rashtrapati Bhavan, a solo performance in the presence of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and as a Choreographer, at the Indo-Asean Commemorative Summit (2012), in the presence of fifteen Heads of State and Government, during the tenure of President Shri. Pranab Mukherjee.
Meenu holds the record of being the first classical dancer to perform in a jail, when she performed at Tihar Jail, New Delhi. In 2016, Meenu was invited to Hyderabad by the prestigious Institution of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), to participate in the conference on evolving new practices in corporate governance, where she presented her views on the subject, through the prism of art and culture.
In Video Meenu Thakur performing Bhamakalapam:
Meenu Thakur has performed in more than twenty countries of the world, and in many major festivals of India like Khajuraho, Konark, Hampi, Mamallapuram, Chidambaram and Modhera. Meenu was encouraged by former President of India, Shri R. Venkataraman, to propagate her art among young learners.
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Taking his advice seriously, Meenu established SURAMYA, a registered Institution of Performing Arts, at New Delhi and Gurgaon, and took over as the founding Director. Meenu Thakur’s disciples are following in her footsteps and have made a mark for themselves in various platforms.
She has conceptualized four productions in Kuchipudi dance, like Trilokarakshini (2014), Samarpan (2015), Yashodara (2016) and Navagraha Charitam (2017).
Meenu Thakur exemplifies what our great country India stands for, being true to one’s roots, striving for woman empowerment and the safeguarding of rich tradition. As Meenu Thakur continues to strive for perfection, one can hope for bigger achievements from this talented danseuse.