The Traditional Dances

Kuchipudi Dance

Kuchipudi derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram in the state of Andhra Pradesh, a village in which the art was born around the 2nd century and was maintained by the participation of the men of that village. The art form flourished in the 15th century through the dance dramas and innovations of the legendary Siddhendra Yogi, a great devotee of Krishna.  Many of Kuchipudi’s features today can be traced to the ideas of this great poet.  Along with other dance forms across India, Kuchipudi suffered from neglect under the rule of the British Empire, however, it was revived by the work of great gurus, such as Guru Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastry and Guru Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Satyam, who brought the form to its present structure.

Vempati Chinna Satyam posing as Nataraja_1
Credit: Academy of Kuchipudi Dance

The present technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements. Stylized mime, using hand gestures and subtle facial expression, is combined with more realistic acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers. In this blend of performance techniques, Kuchipudi is unique among the Indian classical dance styles. Kuchupudi, with its combination of natya (drama), nritya, and nrtta (pure dance), has long been a form of storytelling in the community. More than just stories of Gods and Goddesses, Kuchipudi has a history of narrating new stories of social injustice, such as Tagore’s Chandalika, pushing audiences to rethink the status quo.

Kuchipudi today is performed either as a solo or a group presentation, but historically it was performed as a dance drama, with several dancers taking different roles. It creates a nice blend of strength, delicacy, control, and abandon.