Let’s have a look at how the most graceful dance form in India came into being.

Kuchipudi is one of the classical styles of Indian dance. Around the third and fourth decade of this century, it emerged from a long rich tradition of dance-drama of the same name.

Kuchipudi is a well-known Indian Classical Dance. It is one of the top ten classical dance styles in India. Kuchipudi is a dance-drama performance art.

Similar to all other prominent Indian classical dance styles, Kuchipudi also developed as a sacred art with roots in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit literature "Natyashastra". Kuchipudi has historical ties to temples, religious organizations, and traveling bards.

This historical dancing style is mentioned in books like the "Machupalli Kaifat" from the 15th century and copper inscriptions from the 10th century.

The typical Kuchipudi performance repertoire is largely centered around Lord Krishna and the Vaishnavism tradition. Vaishnavism includes an invocation to God, a brief dance called a dharavu, a pure dance called nritta, and an expressive dance called a nritya.

Kuchipudi: History

The Kuchipudi Dance Form originated in the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh.

The region has a rich dance heritage.

Just like Bharatanatyam, the foundation of Kuchipudi is rooted back in the ancient Sanskrit Hindu text on the performing arts called ‘Natyashastra’. This text is accredited to Indian theatrologist and musicologist Bharata Muni.

The Natyashastra incorporates verses in thousands that are structured in different chapters.
It divides dance into two distinct types that are ‘nrita’ which is pure technical dance and ‘nritya’ that is solo expressive dance

The present-day Kuchipudi style was conceived by Siddhendra Yogi, in the 17th century. He was a talented Vaishnava poet.

It is said that Siddhendra Yogi had a dream in which Lord Krishna asked him to compose a dance drama. Lord Krishna wanted him to create the dance form based on the myth of the Lord giving the parijata flower to Sathyabhaama, his most beloved queen.

Following this incident, Kuchipudi largely developed as a Lord Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition.

Kuchipudi as an art form thrived in the late medieval period and was at the peak of its popularity. However, the art form experienced a decline in the 17th century, under the rule of Aurangzeb.

As the Indian freedom movement progressed steadily during the early 20th century, an effort to revive Indian culture and tradition began with excitement among Indians. 

Many classical art revivalists joined hands between 1920 and 1950 in reviving the ancient classical dance forms.

Among them, Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri played an instrumental role in reviving and reconstructing Kuchipudi. He also inspired women to perform in this dance form.

Kuchipudi: Repertoire and Costume

Traditional Carnatic music is used to accompany the Kuchipudi dance performance. The violin, flute, veena, drum (mridangam), and other musical instruments are played during the performance. Drum (mridangam), flute, veena, violin, and nattuvangam.

Kuchipudi dancing costumes are made by experts and are typically available in a variety of vibrant colors. The apparel consists of pyjamas, angrakhas, blouses, and other accessories.

Dancers also accessorize with magnificent traditional jewelry. And these adorn various bodily parts, including the head, hair, hands, neck, fingers, waist, and so forth.

Another crucial component of the attire is a floral headpiece.

Styles in Kuchipudi

Each element of a Kuchipudi performance is drenched in devotion because of its significant Vaishnavite inspiration. 

A shift to the nritta comes after the performers pay respects to the gods. Before the nritya, or narrative element of the performance, an abstract kind of dancing is performed. 

The dancers are accompanied by mridangam, veena, violin, and cymbal players.

The players' habit of breaking into verbal dialogues during performances is what makes Kuchipudi distinctive and adds to its theatrical appeal.

Kuchipudi is distinguished by a fast pace, thrilling footwork, and lovely bhramaris or circular moves. The artists of Kuchipudi are also renowned for their skills in acrobatics.

The best display of this talent is when a dancer moves fluidly while standing with her feet trapped in a brass plate. The skill on display is truly a source of inspiration for the audience.

The dancer's braid is a homage to Satyabhama, the beloved of Lord Krishna, and it represents how connected each soul is to the universe. 

Thus, Kuchipudi is a big theatre where each step paints a vivid picture for the audience.

Kuchipudi Today

Today, Kuchipudi has a devoted following across the globe. It is one of the most exciting classical dance performances to watch because of its vast theatre, commitment to folk customs, and steady pace.

Looking back at the journey that Kuchipudi has had, it is undeniably a carrier of heritage that binds generations together. Through art forms like Kuchipudi, generations are able to come together and rejoice in the legacy of India.

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