History and evolution

  • This classical style of Indian dance primarily originated from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh
  • In 17th century, present Kuchipudi style was conceived by Siddhendra Yogi a talented Vaishnava poet.
  • Siddhendra Yogi first developed a unique and particular style based on the NatyashastraBharatamuniand Nandikeshwara’s Abhinaya Darpana.
  • It is said that Siddhendra Yogi had a dream in which Lord Krishna asked him to compose a dancedrama based on the myth of the bringing of paarijaataflower for Sathyabhaama, the most beloved queen of Krishna.
  • Around the third and fourth decade of the 20th century it emerged out of a long rich tradition of dance-drama of the same name.
  • It also had its roots in Yakshagana.
  • Kuchipudi largely developed as a Hindu god Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition, and it is most closely related to Bhagavata Mela
Kuchipudi dance

Features of Kuchipudi dance:

  • Kuchipudi is known for its impressive, quick footwork, dramatic characterization, expressive eye movements and spirited narrative.
  • This dance is a combination of Tandava (the majestic, masculine) and and Lasya (lyrical graceful and feminine energy). A distinctive feature of this dance is the execution on a brass plate and moving the plate to the accompaniment of Carnatic music.
  • The Kuchipudi performer apart from being a dancer and actor has to be skilled in Sanskrit and Telugu languages, music and manuscripts of the performance.
  • Unlike, other dance forms; Kuchipudi requires talent in both dancing and
  • The Kuchipudi dancers wear light make-up and ornaments like the Rakudi (head ornament), Chandra Vanki (arm band), Adda Bhasa and Kasina Sara (necklace).
  • The ornaments are made of light wood called Boorugu.
  • A Kuchipudi recital is usually concluded with tarangam. Excerpts of Narayana Teertha’s Krishna-leela-taranginiare sung with this number. In this the dancer usually stands on a brass plate locking the feet in shakatavadanam paada and moves the plate rhythmically with great dexterity.
  • The typical musical instruments in Kuchipudi are Mridangamcymbalsveenafluteand the tambura
  • Kuchipudi has several regional banis(styles), which developed because of the uniqueness and creativity of gurus (teachers). This openness and flexibility has been a historic tradition in Indian dance culture, and is traceable to early times in Kuchipudi as the Margi and Desi styles in the text Nrittaratnavali of Jaya Senapati
  • The ensemble of a Kuchipudi performance includes a Sutradhara or Nattuvanar who is the conductor of the entire performance. He recites the musical syllables and uses cymbals to produce rhythmic beat. The story or spiritual message is sung either by the conductor or another vocalist or sometimes by the actor-dancers.
  • Format of the dance:

The repertoire of Kuchipudi follows three performance categories namely ‘Nritta’ (Nirutham),Nritya’ (Niruthiyam) and ‘Natya’ (Natyam) mentioned in ‘Natya Shastra

Basic standing position, male and female character of kuchipudi dance
Nritta hasta - angika abhinaya
  • The Kuchipudi performance usually begins with an invocation. Then, each costumed actor is introduced, their role stated, and they then perform a short preliminary dance set to music (dharavu). Next, the performance presents pure dance (Nritta)
  • This is followed with by the expressive part of the performance (Nritya), where rhythmic hand gestures help convey the story.
  • Famous exponents
  • Indrani Bajpai (Indrani Rahman), daughter of Ragini Devi, and Yamini Krishnamurti expanded this art through public performances outside Andhra. Vempati Chinna Satyam is a legendary dancer and guru of Kuchipudi dance form
  • Other imminent Kuchipudi dancers include internationally famed dancing couple, Raja and Radha Reddy, their daughter Yamini Reddy; Kaushalya Reddy; Bhavana Reddy, daughter of Raja and Kaushalya Reddy; Lakshmi Narayn Shastri; and Swapana Sundari among others.