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Uma Muralikrishna, a Kuchipudi dancer performing at IIM Bangalore

Kuchipudi (తెలుగు : కూచిపూడి) (pronounced as 'Koochipoodi') is a Classical Indian dance form from Andhra Pradesh, India. Kuchipudi is the name of a village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district that borders the Bay of Bengal and with resident Brahmins practising this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name.

The performance usually begins with some stage rites, after which each of the character comes on to the stage and introduces him/herself with a daru (a small composition of both song and dance) to introduce the identity, set the mood, of the character in the drama. The drama then begins. The dance is accompanied by song which is typically Carnatic music. The singer is accompanied by mridangam (a classical South Indian percussion instrument), violin, flute and the tambura (a drone instrument with strings which are plucked). Ornaments worn by the artists are generally made of a light weight wood called Boorugu.

Some of the well known people in this tradition are Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam[1][1],Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao Vedantam Lakshminarayana, Dr. Uma Rama Rao, Tadepalli Perayya, Chinta Krishna Murthy, Vedantam Sathya Narayana Sarma, Dr. Korada Narasiha Rao ,Sobha Naidu,P.B Krishna Bharathi, Pasumarthi Venu Gopala Krishna Sarma, Raja Reddy and Radha Reddy swagath kuchipiudi, Mahamkali Surya Narayana Sarma,[2] Dr. Yashoda Thakore, Sarala Kumari Ghanta, Yamini Reddy, Vijayapal Pathloth, Vamshee Krishna Varma.

The prominence of Kuchipudi dance form is not limited to India alone. There are now a number of popular Kuchipudi teachers, choreographers and dancers in North America and Australia.


Yamini Reddy performing at Sangeet Natak Academi Delhi

The movements in Kuchipudi are quicksilver and scintillating, rounded and fleet-footed. Performed to classical Carnatic music, it shares many common elements with Bharatanatyam. In its solo exposition Kuchipudi numbers include 'jatiswaram' and 'tillana' whereas in nritya it has several lyrical compositions reflecting the desire of a devotee to merge with God - symbolically the union of the soul with the super soul.[3]

Beyond the stylistic differences of Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam steps, there are certain types of dances that are unique to Kuchipudi. Specifically there is the Tarangam of Kuchipudi which is unique in that the dancer must dance upon a brass plate, placing the feet upon the raised edges. The dancer moves the plate with much balance as the indiviudal is traditionally dancing on the plate with two diyas (small oil-burning candles) in his or her hands while balancing a "kundi" (small vessel) containing water on their head. At the end of the dance, typically, the dancer extinguishes the candles and washes his or her hands with the water from the vessel.

There are also subtle differences in the costumes of both types of dances. Generally, Bharatanatyam dresses have three fans of differing heights that form the illusion of the spreading pleats of a sari. However, in Kuchipudi there is typically only one fan which tends to be longer than the longest of the three fans present on Bharatanatyam dresses.

The 20th Karana is very often used in Kuchipudi dance. Apart from six padabhedas, Kuchipudi dancers also use some adugulu or adavus traditional to this school: Chaukam, Katteranatu, Kuppi Adugu, Ontaduvu,Jaraduvu, Pakkanatu

The Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight Indian dance forms:

  1. Bharatanatyam - South Indian Classical Dance
  2. Odissi - Orissa Classical dance
  3. Kuchipudi - Telugu Classical dance
  4. Manipuri - Manipur Classical Dance
  5. Mohiniyattam - Kerala Classical Dance
  6. Sattriya - Asamese Classical Dance
  7. Kathakali - Kerala Classical Dance
  8. Kathak - North Indian Classical Dance


+ Kuchipudi Bhartam, is published by Sri Satguru Publications/Indian Books Centre,Delhi,India, in Raga-Nrtya Series.

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