Kuchupudi is a classical Indian dance with origins from Andhra Pradesh and is well recognized all over the country. It derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram, a small village which is about 65 kms from Vijaywada.
This art form is characterized by graceful movements, subtle narration and strong dramatic character. It presents scenes from Hindu Epics and mythological tales through dance dramas combining music, dance and acting.
Kuchipudi initially in the earlier days was exclusively performed only by the Brahmin men. Women were never allowed to part take or learn the art form. Siddhendra Yogi later on championed the cause for it and redefined Kuchipudi with the aim of ending the exploitation against women.
Through him the art form got enriched with the advent of female dancer who added their own grace and elegance to the art form. Great icons like Vedantam Lakshminarayana, Chinta Krishnamurthy and Tadepalli Perayya, helped broaden the horizons of the artform. Thanks to those reforms women today can play even the parts of men in their performances.
In Kuchipudi each main character introduces himself or herself with a daru. Daru can be defined as a small composition of song and dance meant to identify the character and also to establish the skill and presence of the artist. Sometimes there can even be as many as 80 darus in a performance. This helps about in setting the mood of the story and its characters after which the actual performance starts.
The Kuchipudi is a dance-drama of Nritta, Nritya and Natya. The Nritta consists of song while Nritta refers to interpretation of the song through an intricate form of dance and the Natya which combines both to form a complete dance drama that has story, emotions, grace and elegance.
Make-up and costumes are another important characteristic of this particular art form. The female characters wear ornaments and jewelry, such as Rakudi (head ornament), Chandra Vanki (arm ornament), Adda Bhasa and Kasina Sara (neck ornament), and a long plait decorated with flowers and jewelry.
Kuchupudi is performed to Carnatic music. The instruments that are usually used are mridangam, flute and violin. The lyrics would be sung by a vocalist while the recital of the rhythm patterns will be done by the 'Nattuvanar'
There have been many icons over the years who have played important roles in bringin Kuchipudi to where it stands today. Some of the famous Kuchipudi dancers are Bhama Kalapam, Gollakalapam, Prahlada Charitam, Sashirekha and Parinaya.