Free Essay On Kuchipudi Classical Dance Of India

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Dance, Music, Women, Village, Artists, History, Art, Plate

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/11/23


Kuchipudi is an ancient classical dance form originated in a village by the same name in the South Indian State of Andhra Pradesh. This dance form is famously known for its lively movements, strong narratives and dramatic description. Earlier, Kuchipudi depicted famous Hindu epics and tales of mythology through dance, music and drama. The present Kuchipudi dance form mostly uses lyrics written in Telugu or Sanskrit languages, and is performed by both male and female artists. In the beginning, Kuchipudi was only performed by males from traditional Brahmin families during certain religious and significant events in the villages (Puri, n.d). Later on, the art form also moved to other places in the form of stage performances to entertain different audiences. Traditional Brahmin performers of those days kept the dance form out of reach of other communities, particularly the Devadasis or women servants of deities in the temples. However, from the earlier artists, the skills and techniques of Kuchipudi got transferred to the following generations to attain its present form. Modern Kuchipudi derived its form during the twentieth century.

History of Kuchipudi

Sri Siddhendra Yogi was the originator of Kuchipudi. According to local legends, around a thousand years ago, an orphan boy brought up by the villagers of Srikakulam, after marrying a local girl, went to learn Vedas from a faraway place, and lived as Siddhendra Yogi. On returning back to the village after completing his education, he was persuaded by village elders to go to his wife and live together. While going to his wife’s village on a rainy day, he came upon a river overflowing with flood water. He got trapped in the flood waters, and began to pray to God for strength, to which God relented. After safely reaching the other side, he thanked God and became a staunch devotee and Yogi. He settled in a village called Kuchelapuram and started teaching devotional dances and dramas to local Brahmin boys, which later on were presented as offerings to the God (Puri, n.d). This ancient Natya Shastra, or discourse through art and music, gradually developed into Kuchipudi by the beginning of 1500 A.D.

Music and Costumes

Kuchipidi is a blend of dance, mime and dialogue. The background music used for Kuchipidi performance is Carnatic classical music. The traditional orchestra that accompanies a Kuchipudi performance, apart from singing, includes playing of Mridangam (a percussion instrument), Violin, Veena (an ancient Indian instrument with plucked strings), Manjira (a pair of metallic hand cymbals for hitting each other), Kanjira (a framed drum) and Tanpura (an instrument with a long neck and plucked strings). A traditional Nattuvannar conducts the band as a vocalist sings, while the performing artists mime with appealing expressions, rapid looks and brief emotions. The performing female artists wear different jewelry and ornaments. However, common female ornaments are the Rakoli (a head ornament), Chandra Vanki (an arm ornament) and Kasina Sara (a neck ornament) (Puri, n.d). Flowers decorate the long plaited hair of the performing woman).

Uniqueness of Kuchipudi

Taranga is a stunning and unique component of Kuchipudi, in which the performing artist dances by placing the feet in a brass plate and goes on moving the plate skillfully, sometimes even balancing a pot of water upon the head. The plate and the pot of water also have a strong philosophical significance. Concentrating on the pot with water on the head symbolizes one’s worldly worries, and holding on to the plate represents one’s surrender and holding on to the holy feet of the creator. Hand gestures (Mudras), feet movements (Pada Bhedas), rhythmic tapping of feet to music (Aduvu), body movements in tune to the rhythm (Jatis), expressing meaning of lyrics by means of facial expressions (Rasa) and hand gestures (Hasta Mudra) are some of the appealing features of Taranga.


Kuchipudi in the form of drama has been thriving for centuries in South India. At times, the art even portrayed the socio-economic conditions during the time of ancient rulers. For example, a Kuchipudi performance in 1502 before the king Immadi Narasa Nayaka portrayed the unfair treatment of the public by a local chieftain. The drama even freed the public from the cruel practices of the chieftain (Courtney, n.d). In order to face the challenges posed by modernity, while simultaneously retaining its originality, novel movements have since been incorporated into present day Kuchipudi besides accepting fusion of certain elements with other Classical Indian dance forms. Introducing such new innovations also appeals to the younger generation and new learners, thus preserving this beautiful art form from cultural change.


Courtney, D. (n.d.). Kuchipudu. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from
Puri, S. (n.d.). Kuchipudi Dancers and Dance in India. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from

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