• Kuchipudi, originally called Kuchelapuri or Kuchelapuram, a hamlet in Krishna district is the classical dance form from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where it grew largely as a product of Bhakti (devotion) movement beginning in the seventh century CE.
  • Kuchipudi derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram. It is known for its graceful movements and its strong narrative or dramatic character.
  • Both geographically and stylistically, Kuchipudi dance can be best understood as located between the classical dance styles of Odissi and Bharatnatyam.
  • Evidence of Kuchipudi’s existence in an older version are found in copper inscriptions of the 10th century, and by the 15th century in texts such as the Machupalli Kaifat.
  • Kuchipudi largely developed as a Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition, and it is known by the name of Bhagavata Mela in Thanjavur.
Kuchipudi performer

Style and Technique of Kuchipudi

  • The Kuchipudi is a dance-drama of Nritta, Nritya and Natya. The Nritta consists of teermanams and jatis, the Nritya of Sabdams, and the Natya of acting with mudras for the songs.
  • While fast becoming a solo presentation, Kuchipudi still has strong ties to the dance-drama tradition. It combines the elements of speech, mime and pure dance.

Music in Kuchipudi

  • The music used in Kuchipudi is classical Carnatic.
  • Kuchipudi today is performed either as a solo, duet or a group presentation, but historically it was performed as a dance drama, with several dancers taking different roles.
  • The musical instruments used to accompany Kuchipudi dance are Mridangam, Manjira (Thalam), Veena, Violin, Kanjira, Surpeti, Venu and Tanpura.

Features & Elements of Kuchipudi

  • From the later part of the fourth decade of this century a sequence of the presentation of the solo recital has been widely accepted.
  • A recital of Kuchipudi begins with an invocatory number, generally Ganesha Vandana.
  • It is followed by nritta, that is, non-narrative and abstract dancing. Usually jatiswaram is performed as the nritta number.
  • Next is presented a narrative number called shabdam. One of the favourite traditional shabdam number is the Dashaavataara. Manduk Shabdam is another popular solo element which tells the story of a frog.
  • The Shabdam is followed by a natya number called Kalaapam.
  • A Kuchipudi recital is usually concluded with tarangam. In this the dancer usually stands on a brass plate locking the feet in shakatavadanam paada and moves the plate rhythmically with great dexterity.
  • Both lasya and tandava elements are important in this dance form.
  • Jala Chitra Nitryam – It is the item where the dancer draws pictures on the floor with his or her toes while dancing.

Famous Exponents

  • Radha Reddy and Raja Reddy, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Indrani Rehman, Vedaantam Satyanarayana Sharma

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