Kuchipudi Dance of India
¤ Kuchipudi, The Classical Dance Form
The famous dance form of Kuchipudi originated in the Kuchipudi
village located in Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh. It is a dance
drama tradition originally performed by men only. It is yet another
precious pearl in the majestic crown of India's rich culture. The
Kuchipudu dance form is famous for its grace, elegance and charm.
Kuchipudi was nurtured, protected and refined by the great artists,
who are responsible for its present form.
¤ Legends Related To Kuchipudi
There are many legends related to this dance form, which are somehow
related to its growth. According to one of the legends related to this
dance form, in the 13th century there was a young man named Siddhappa
whose marriage was arranged to a beautiful girl. But the fate was not
on his, while crossing the river to attend his wedding, his boat
overturned and he was about to drown. At that very time, he prayed to
God to save his life and pledged that he will dedicate his life to the
service of God. His prayer was answered and he survived. Since then,
he was called Siddhendra Yogi, a great Telugu poet of the 17th century
who composed the dance-drama "Bhama Kalapam". His poems
praised Lord Krishna on which dancers performed.
This dance was preformed by male dancers only, he believed that the
inclusion of females might result in the decadence of this art. The
first Kuchipudi dance - drama was also written by Siddhendra Yogi.
Thus, it is said that today's Kuchipudi dance style has originated
from this dance drama tradition, also known as Bhagavata Mela Natakam
Another legend says that Kuchipudi is a result of the religious
tolerance that existed in India, in the 13th century. It is said that
a group of Kuchipudi dancers performed in the court of a Nawab in
Andhra Pradesh. The Nawab was so impressed with the dance drama that
he gifted the Kuchipudi village to these dancers and asked them to
continue the tradition of performing. Since then, all the male members
of the Kuchipudi village have been practicing this art. The themes of
this dance drama are based on the legends from Indian mythology.
¤ Music In Kuchipudi
The Kuchipudi dance form is performed on the classical Carnatic
music. The instruments used for Kuchipudi recital includes the
Mridangam, Flute and Violin. The lyrics are sung by a vocalist and the
organization of the music and recital of the rhythmic patterns are
done by the "Nattuvanar".
¤ Dance Expressions
Kuchipudi is a perfect amalgamation of "Nritta", "Nritya"
and "Natya". The Nritta consists of a song; the Nritya or "Sabdams"
includes the interpretation of the song through dance and Natya
combines both into a complete dance drama having a storyline and
¤ Swift Foot Movements
The Kuchipudi dance form uses a lot of fast rhythmic foot movements.
Apart from this, the graceful sculpture like body movements are the
highlights of this dance form. The dance also consists of mime, hand
gestures and subtle facial expression. Some times it is also combined
with more graphical acting and dialogues spoken by the dancers.
Keeping in mind these unique techniques, Kuchipudi is among the
important Indian classical dance styles.
The "Tarangam", is another unique feature of Kuchipudi. In
this, a dancer dances on the edge of a brass plate, matching to the
rhythm of music. Sometimes, dancers also balance a pot of water on the
¤ The Presentation of The dance
Just like other dance forms of India, Kuchipudi is also associated
with religion. Earlier, this dance form was only performed at temples
and that too only for annual festivals of certain temples in Andhra.
Kuchipudi dance drama combines the dancing and speaking of the
performers. Originally, this dance form was performed only by men
belonging to the Brahmin community, popularly known as "Bhagavathulu"
In its original form Kuchipudi was a dance drama and not a solo
dance. This graceful dance drama was performed by the men and boys who
were trained rigorously in 'Abhinaya' or acting, music, dancing and
singing, in the open air on a stage.
The presentation begins with some stage rites, which are performed in
full view of the audience. After this, the "Sootradhar" or
the narrator along with supporting musicians appear on-stage to give a
musical performance on the drums and cymbals. Each principal character
introduces himself or herself on the stage with a 'Daru', a brief
composition of dance and song specially designed for each character.
This helps the characters to introduce themselves and to present their
skills in the art. There are nearly 80 'Darus' or dance sequences in
¤ The Evolution of Kuchipudi
Today, Kuchipudi has evolved into a solo dance form. Now, women
dancers also participate in the dance performances. The solo dance
performances are highly expressive with fast rhythms, swinging knee
movements and circular movement of the arms. Inspite of regular
modifications, Kuchipudi still retains its dramatic origins.