Kuchipudi Dance: Origin, History and Purpose of Kuchipudi

kuchipudi dance

Kuchipudi is a vibrant dance form which originated in Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the eight classical dance forms in India. This dance form is known because of its fast moves, lively eye expressions, hand gestures and so on. It is a mixture of the laya of the Tandava dance form and of the Lasya or the slow movement in dance speed. The unique concept of this dance form is that the brass plate is moved in accordance with the Carnatic music. The Kuchipudi dancer should also possess the additional quality of knowing the Telegu and Sanskrit language so that they can understand the texts of this dance.

Kuchipudi Dance

Jump to Section:

  1. Origin of Kuchipudi Dance
  2. A brief history of Kuchipudi
  3. Difference between Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam
  4. Purpose of Kuchipudi Dance
  5. Kuchipudi Instruments
  6. Who is the God of Kuchipudi?
  7. How long does it take to learn Kuchipudi Dance?
  8. Various Kuchipudi Styles
  9. Kuchipudi Costumes
  10. Tarangam and Kavutvams in Kuchipudi

1. Origin of Kuchipudi Dance

This dance form originated from the village in Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. This also is known to have named after a village of Andhra Pradesh Kuchelapuram and is 65 km away from Vijayawada. At that time this dance was performed by the Brahmins of these villages.

2. A brief history of Kuchipudi

Like other classical dance forms, this dance form is also taken to have emerged from Natya Shastra. This also constitutes of the three components of Nritya, Nritta and Natya. This text constitutes of almost 6000 verses.

This dance form is also said to have evolved from the bards who used to move from one place to other reciting poems, spiritual texts and also from the Hindu temples. Its trace can be seen back from the 10th and 15th centuries in copper inscriptions of Machupalli Kaifat.

The modern form of Kuchipudi’s development can be credited to the sage Tirtha Narayan Yati and his son from the 17th century. This dance form started to get associated with Vaishnavism and the songs and dances which were on the life of Krishna. Previously this dance form was mainly performed by only male troupes.

3. Difference between Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam

The main points of difference between Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam are as follows:

  • While Kuchipudi originated in Andhra Pradesh, Bharatanatyam originated in Tamil Nadu. Although both the dances originated in South India yet their places are entirely different.
  • Whereas the Kuchipudi dance form was traditionally performed by the males, the dance form-Bharatanatyam was traditionally performed by females in temples and religious places and also in king’s courts by females who were called the devadasi.
  • The Kuchipudi was mainly spread by the bards who wrote poems, on the other hand, the Bharatanatyam was performed and got spread from temples and courts of various kings.
  • The Kuchipudi was actually performed on the verses which were sung as odes to Lord Krishna while Bharatanatyam was performed on varied Mythological texts. Bharatanatyam includes the mythologies of Ramayana, Mahabharata and so on.

4. Purpose of Kuchipudi Dance

The purpose of Kuchipudi is to perform the dance in an expressive and vibrant manner. It does not only include dance but one of the most important components of Kuchipudi dance is Vachikavinayam and involves drama as well. This dance is mainly done to depict the life stories of Lord Krishna. It expresses the dance through the Samyukta and Asamyukta Hastas, Karana, Chari, Angahara, Mandala and so on. The main aim of this dance s the depiction of slokas through the various gestures and expressions.

5. Kuchipudi Dance Instruments

The musical instruments which are used in Kuchipudi are actually the ones associated with Carnatic music. They are the Mridangam, Saraswati Veena or the South Indian Veena, the Manjira, Sarpeti, the Tanpura, Violin, and Kanjira.

6. Who is the God of Kuchipudi?

Siddhendra Yogi is considered to be the pioneer of this dance form. Popular Kuchipudi dancers include Vedantam Narayan Narayana Shastri, Chinta Krishnamurthy, Tadepalli Perayya. These were the famous dancers of traditional Kuchipudi. In modern India, both males and females perform this dance. The best contemporary Kuchipudi dancers include Raja and Radha Reddy, Bhavana Reddy, Yamini Reddy and so on.

7. How long does it take to learn Kuchipudi Dance?

It needs seven to ten years to master this dance form completely. Any classical dance has specific postures, movements, hand gestures and expressions to be learnt. It also involves a rigorous practice to master the dance which is performed in various laya and along with music and beats.

8. Various Kuchipudi Styles

This dance form constitutes of various styles which are called the “Banis”. This adds to the exclusiveness in this dance form. This dance form is divided into Margi style which is a traditional one. The traditional style, Margi, includes Vedayata, Veddangam, Bommalata, Perani, Chindu, Bahurupam, Pagativeshalu. On the other hand, the modern style or the Desi style includes Rasaka, Charchari, Bhandika, Kollata.

Kuchipudi Styles
Kuchipudi Styles (Image Source: Kalyani Kala Mandir)

It was also divided into two other types which are Nattuva Mela and Natya Mela. The Nattuva Mela has subtypes which are known as the Balipitha dance and the Kalika dance. Natya mala constitutes of a ritual dance of gods, Kalika dance and the Bhagavatam dance.

9. Kuchipudi Costumes

Kuchipudi which was previously a dance for only males used to wear the Agnivastra which included a dhoti. The dress of males was also called Bagalbandi. Women mainly wear a colourful and vibrant saree and dress similarly as in Bharatanatyam. It also includes a fan-like pleated cloth in front to make the dress look more gorgeous which doing the dance moves. The dress also includes a belt which is worn in the waist by the females. The jewellery is also quite elaborate with necklaces, armlets, bracelets, earrings, hair accessories and so on. Adding to that ankle bells are also worn.

10. Tarangam and Kavutvams in Kuchipudi

Tarangam is a dance in Kudipudi whereby the dancer performs the dance on the edges of a brass plate with a pot on their head. This pot consists of water and is considered to be a form of meditation in this dance form.

Kavutvams include the Nritya in the dance whereby acrobatic moves are performed in Kuchipudi.

Summary

Kuchipudi constitutes of a dance form which is unique in its styles. It consists of a lot of types and styles in it which needs to be learnt with proper guidance and regular practice. This dance form is exquisite and vibrant and adds to the greatest classical dance forms performed in India.

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