Guru Smt.Vijaya Prasad has been practicing and teaching Kuchipudi dance for the last 50 years. She was initiated in the divine dance form of Kuchipudi at a tender age of three by none other than The Great Kuchipudi Natya Acharya, Shri Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry. She was further trained in this art form by Guru Shri Yelleswrapu, Guru Shri Nageswra Sarma and Guru Shri Acharya Gautam.She started giving stage performances from the age of eight. She has given more than 500 performances throughout India. Vijaya Prasad used to perform along with her cousin Mrs.Maruti Kesav and together they were well known in Andhra Pradesh as the ANDHRA SISTERS.
Vijaya Prasad was trained in the classical style of Kuchipudi. But she enhanced all her performances with her own unique elegant and mellifluous style. She performed beautifully all the traditional Kuchipudi dance items like Tarangam. She was more famous for her portrayal of Lord Krishna in "Gopi-Krishna" and Shiva in "Shiva Parvati" dance ballets, for she established these roles powerfully always to a standing ovation .
She received numerous awards, honors and citations ; notable among them are :
After marriage she settled down in Mumbai. Kuchipudi was virtually unknown in Maharashtra. Bharat Natyam and Kathak were the more well known classical dance forms, especially in Mumbai. As an ardent exponent of Kuchipudi dance, this pained Vijaya Prasad. So in 1981 she established the Kuchipudi Dance Academy, with an aim to popularise Kuchipudi in Maharashtra. Kuchipudi Dance Academy became the first and the only registered Dance Academy in Maharashtra to teach Kucipudi dance form.
Popularising Kuchipudi in Maharashtra
When Vijaya Prasad established the Kuchipudi Dance Academy in 1981, Kuchipudi was practically unknown in the region. Bharat Natyam and Khathak were the well known and popular dance forms in Mumbai. As Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi are slightly similar dance forms and as the local people were unaware Kuchipudi, initially many parents came to Vijaya Prasad asking her to teach their children Bharat Natyam. As an exponent of Kuchipudi this pained her. Since then she has been trying earnestly to enlighten people about Kuchipudi and impart her knowledge the best of her capacity.To showcase the talents of her disciples Vijaya Prasad started organizing the Annual Gathering of Kuchipudi Dance Academy on December 25th. Her disciples also performed in local temples and religious functions. At the beginning of all the performances, Vijaya Prasad made it a point to educate the audience about Kuchipudi, by describing the history of the dance form and demonstrating the gracious hand and leg postures and the fluid movements of the body and thereby pointing the differences between Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam. As many of her disciples started winning the local and All India Dance Competitions it started bringing fame to the Academy. And Vijaya Prasad's efforts were fructified when for the first time students came to her to specifically learn Kuchipudi. At that moment Vijaya Prasad knew she one won the first step towards achieving her goal. The following sections describe how Smt Vijaya Prasad was instrumental in generating interest and awareness about Kuchipudi among Maharashtrians.
Correcting the Maharashtra Board of Education
In the 5th Standard English text book, published by Maharashtra Board of Education, it was wrongly mentioned that Kuchipudi dance form originated from Tanjavore, Tamil Nadu! Vijaya Prasad, who devoted her entire life in living and teaching this art form, could not bear it. She wanted to give Kuchipudi the right status it deserved. She wrote numerous letters to the Maharashtra Department of Education, about Kuchipudi, its history and pointed out their mistake. She succeeded in her endeavor, as the Education Ministry sent her a reply acknowledging their mistake and correcting it in the next publication.
Swar Sadhana includes Kuchipudi in All India Dance Competition
Every year Swar Sadhana Samiti organizes The All India Dance Competitions in Mumbai. When Vijaya Prasad wanted to send her disciples to compete in this event, she found that they did not have category for Kuchipudi. Swar Sadhana Samiti held competitions in all dance forms except Kuchipudi!
This changed after Vijaya Prasad corresponded and met with the Samiti President. Because of Vijaya Prasad's efforts Swar Sadhana Samiti included Kuchipudi dance competitions in their annual event. Later all major organizations in Mumbai started including Kuchipudi in their dance competitions.
Vijaya Prasad publishes books on Kuchipudi in Marathi
Smt Vijaya Prasad published small booklets in Marathi, "Kuchipudi Natya Visheshta" and "Kuhipudi Natya Prachinata", to spread awareness about Kuchipudi among the local people. She wrote a book titled "Kuchipudi Natya Sanghraha" both in English and Marathi which explains the fundamentals of Kuchipudi Dance.
First ever dance ballet based on Marathi Abhangas
She choreographed and incorporated the popular Marathi abhangas in Kuchipudi dance ballet titled "Abhanga Nrutya Raveli". This never before attempted adaptation of abhangas into a classical dance form was much appreciated and widely covered by Marathi news papers like Loksatta.