The very name 'Kuchipudi' conjures up a an artist balancing a pot containing water on her head and with her feet on the edges or rim of a brass plate lifting and keeping the balance and the rhythm of the music.

When I was witnessing the kuchipudi performance by Yamini Krishna Murty, the announcement over the mike, "Ladies and gentlemen, today's concluding item of the programme 'Tarangam' is going to be presented  by Yamini in a few moments." sent the audience in to raptures.Whole auditorium was filled with an aura of Ecstasy and all eyes were planted on the screen. The screen lifted slowly. There came into the view the graceful Yamini standing on the rim of a brass plate and a pot of water on her head.

The music started and, Yasmini started her rhythmical moments with an impeccable sense of balancing herself on one side and at the same time maintaining the rhythm of the song.

Entire auditorium was on its ebge. All eyes on Yamini. When the item came to an end, the whole auditorium  stood up to accord a standing ovation to Yamini.

TarangamTarangam :

When in the beginning of this century, A few exponents of Kuchipudi found that the Popularity of Kuchipudi was declining and losing the ground to the professional drama groups who were using a language on the lines of 'Angika' of Kuchipudi, but more penetrating,  started thinking of fortifying the sacred and ancient dance form and elevate it to its original status.

At this crucial juncture, Chinta Venkataratnam, one of the masters of Kuchipudi dance form came up with an innovation that has become the landmark in the annals of Indian Dance history. Thus Tarangam came into existance and brougt back the old glory of Kuchipudi.

Tarangam is adapted from the Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini and soon it became the mainstay of Kuchipudi dance form. 

Since then Kuchipudi never looked back.

Another reformation to keep Kuchipudi tradition alive :

Dance experts and Historians, in a bid to  keep alive the glorious tradition suggest from time to time adaptations. One such adaptation  was introduction of Tarangam. Similar to this to fortify the Kuchipudi tradition and stand against the gighly successful Dance and cinema spheres. Under the aegis of Vempati Venatanarayana and Vedantam Ramakrishnayya introduced some features of drama into Kuchipudi and make it a 'Dancxe- Drama.'

Few legends behind Kuchipudi.

As with any place Kuchipudi too has some legends connected with it. Not all of them are authentic, though interesting. Here are couple of legends associated with  Kuchipudi the place and Kuchipudi the  dance form.

A legend says the name " Kuchipudi" is said to have been christened by Abdul Hassan Tana Shah, the grand nephew of Sultan Mohammed Quili Quitb Shah of the QutbShahi dynasty.Kuchipudi is not only the name of a place  locted in the South - east Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. it is also the name of one of the oldest dance forms of India. Kuchipudi is  situated in  Krishna district , in the state of Andhra Pradesh,between Vijayawada and the district head quarters  town Machilipatnam.

Tana Shah was well known for patronizing the arts. Once he stopped at Kuchipudi. At that time, Kuchipudi was experiencing a shortage of water. Seeing the dreary condition, Tana Shah, ordered to dig a well to cater to the needs of the draught stricken inhabitants of Kuchipudi. The overwhelmed people expressed their gratitude, through a scintillating dance performance before Tana Shah. Tana Shah was so impressed by the dancing prowess of the people, instantly named this performance as "Kuchipudi Dance."

Another legend says, well before the patronage of Tana Shah, Bharat Muni's Natya Shastra recognized Kuchipudi for it's "Kaisiki Vritti." Kaisiki Vritti means a delicate and graceful movement of the dance.

From the above, its clear that Kuchipudi dance form is the oldest of all the dance forms of India that dates back to 10th century B.C. The same has been confirmed by the  sculptures, stone carvings ,temples, and Buddhist Viharas located t Nagarjunakonda, Amaravati,, Ghantasala, Jaggayyapeta and Bhalliproli.

How the name 'Kuchipudi'  was derived.

This tiny village's original name was 'Kusilavapuri.' The village was named after 'Kusa and Lava', the famous twins of Rama and Sita of Ramayana.  In the heydays of Kuchipudi, Brahmin boys used to perform 'Bhama Kalapam'. No females were allowed to practice Kuchipudi.The boys who perform the dance were called 'Kuchilu.' It's the abbreviation for the sanskrit word, " Kusilava." Subsequently Kusilava puri has become Kuchilapuri,Kuchanapuri, Kuchipuri and eventually Kuchipudi.  Kuchipudi was a male domain. The tradition that was launched in those days remained unchanged until recent years.

Of course this  restriction is not applicable to the present days as more and more females are joining and earning international fame in the sphere of KUchipudi..  This is why along with the male exponents in Kuchipudi like Vedantam Satyanarayana sarma, Vempati china Satyam, we can see luminaries like Shobha Naidu in the Kuchipudi celebrities list.

Why women were left out?

Siddhendra yogi, known for his scholarly excellence and Artistic prowess entered Kuchipudi around 1400 A.D. . He was the first to have given a shape and form Kuchipudi dance form. Siddhendra yogi who blended the disciplines of Nattuva Mela and Natya Mela , the parallel schools of dance into one perfect homogeneous and perfect form known as Bhama Kalapam. Siddhendra Yogi was of the opinion that his creation Bhama Kalapam was a fusion of dance, music, lyric and rhythm.  The essence of Bhama Kalapam is love towards Krishna mingled with Bhakti or devotion that leads to  salvation.Siddhendra yogi feels that the presence of women may dispel the spiritual spirit. That's why he refused to allow women to enter into the realms of kuchipudi.

The two parallel schools of Dance.

The entire realm of Dance has been divided inti two broad categories.

  1. Nattuva Mela
  2. Natya Mela

NattuvaMela revolves around devoional theme. Hence Dvadasis used to perform  in temples. Eventually the Nattuva Mela evolved in to Bharata Natyam.

Kuchipudi evolved from Natya Mela. Kuchipudi dances were meant for Festivals, rituals and some special occasions like a celebrity's birth day or marriage.

Differences between Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi.

Kuchipudi has an edge over Bharata natyam on one most important count. Kuchipudi uses Laya, Thandava and abhinaya  for interpreting the Slokas distinctively.

  • Laya means rhythm
  • Tandava means a rhythm with fast tempo
  • Abhinaya means expression.


Abhinaya is expressed by a kuchipudi artist through


hand-gestresAngika, means gestures. The artist shows expression through various parts of the body Hand gestures are the most important part of Angika abhinaya. 

  • Vachika means,  spoken word in the form of verbal dialogue
  • Satwika means, facial exptressions
  • Aaharya means costumes and adornments

Hand gesturs or Hastabhinayas are of two kinds.

Onr hand gestures are known as Asamyuta.

Gestures done with two hands are known as Samyuta

Conclusion :

It pays to stay and live along with the times. Inorder to keep alive the glorious past, we should learn to accept the cahnges and incorporate the necessary ingredients. 

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