First developed in Kuchelapuram, a small village in southern India is a classical dance form known as Kuchipudi. This “major Indian classical dance style” has originated from the Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. According to ancient texts such as the “Machupalli Kaifat” and few ancient copper inscriptions this dance form is said to have come to existence around the 10th-15th century. In addition, according to an ancient legend the modern version of this dance form was developed by a saint called Tirtha Narayan Yati and his disciple Siddhendra Yogi. Furthermore, this dance form is said to belong to an old Hindu tradition known as “Vaishnavism”.

a. History and origin of Kuchipudi

Like most other Indian classical dance forms, Kuchipudi too derives its roots from the ancient sacred Sanskrit text “Natya Shastri” written by Bharat Muni. However, in terms of its origin this dance form only officially emerged in 13th century in Andhra Pradesh during the rule of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. Apparently the creation of this dance form was supposed to have been inspired by “Gita Govinda”, the work of a 12th century poet known as Jayadeva. In addition, encouragement of poets and dance groups by the royal family of Andhra Pradesh was also another key factor that led to the development of this dance form. Furthermore, it was during the 17th century that Kuchipudi evolved even further due to the efforts of a saint known as Tirtha Naryanayati, and his ardent follower Sidhyendra Yogi.

b. Costumes used in Kuchipudi

This dance form is basically performed by both male and females, and hence costumes used will vary according to the gender, and they are as follows

  1. For Males:

A male performer uses what is known as “Angavastra/Bagalbandi” along with a traditional dhoti (i.e. a single pleated piece of cloth that is to be worn from the waist).

2. For Females:

As for females, the costume used is a traditional Indian Saree along with light makeup and some jewellery which includes earring, nose ring, armlet, necklaces etc.

c. Music used in Kuchipudi

This dance form is similar to Bharatnatyam in terms of music and uses the Carnatic form of singing. In addition, a Kuchipudi performance involves a group of musicians.

  1. Led by a chief conductor:

Who is also known as the Sutradhar/Nattuvanar and is responsible for using the cymbals, and narrating a story through singing. Furthermore, the role of the chief conductor either can be played by a trained vocalist or at times by the performer, who happens to possess good vocal quality.

2. This is closely followed by a Clarinettist, Violinist, and Indian Drummer:

Who are responsible for playing the instruments clarinet, violin, and the mirdangam (Indian drum) respectively, and happen to form the rest of the musical troupe that produces music for this dance form.

3. Additionally, Other Instruments:

 Like flute may be used depending on the story/legend being narrated through the dance performance.

d. Training and dance technique used in Kuchipudi

The training for this dance form essentially involves physical exercises that improves flexibility in leg muscles, arms, shoulders, and neck. In addition, yoga is also a useful exercise that must be undertaken by a Kuchipudi performer. There are some special exercises especially prepared for performers of this dance form, and they include Dandemu, Ekapada, Gunjeelu etc.  As for training centres, there are a number of schools that train Kuchipudi dancers and can be found all across Andhra Pradesh.

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