Kuchipudi, Classical Dance of Andhra Pradesh
Kuchipudi is a Classical Indian dance from Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also popular all over South India. Kuchipudi is the name of a village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district that borders the Bay of Bengal and also the surname of the resident Brahmins practicing this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name.

The performance usually begins with some stage rites, after which each of the characters come on to the stage and introduces him/herself with a dharavu (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 lightweight wood called Boorugu. It originated in the seventh century.

Style

Bharata Muni who wrote the Natya Shastra about 3000 years ago had explained various aspects of this dance form. Later sometime in the 13th century, the impetus to kuchipudi was given by Sidhendra Yogi. Siddhendra Yogi redefined the dance form. Siddhendra Yogi’s former name was Siddhappa who was an orphan Brahmin.

Kuchipudi dancers are quicksilver and scintillating, rounded and fleet-footed, they perform with grace and fluid movements. Performed to classical Carnatic music, it shares many common elements with Bharatanatyam. In its solo exposition Kuchipudi numbers include ‘jatiswaram’ and ’tillana’ whereas in nrityam it has several lyrical compositions reflecting the desire of a devotee to merge with God. In an era of the degeneration of dance due to exploitation of female dancers, an ascetic, 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 which is unique in that t plate with two diyas (small oil-burning candles) in his or her hands while balancing a “kindi” (small vessel) containing water.

Kuchipudi dancers set a Guinness World Record

Over 2,800 Kuchipudi dancers, including 200-plus natyagurus created a Guinness World Records on December 26, 2010 performing Hindolam Thillana at the GMC Balayogi Stadium in Hyderabad.

The spectacular show performed by dancers from 15 countries and every state was staged in praise of Kuchipudi choreographer Siddhendhra Yogi. The 11-minutes programme was part of the concluding ceremony of the three-day second International Kuchipudi Dance Convention.

The chief guest, the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil, the governor of Andhra Pradesh, E.S.L. Narasimhan, and the chief minister, N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, congratulated the participants. Kuchipudi exponents Vempati Chinasatyam, Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Raja Reddy Radha Reddy, and Sobha Naidu were felicitated by the president.

Rapturous applause filled the venue as the programme came to an end and a representative from Guinness World Records announced that she was speechless with the magnitude of the programme. Later, disciples of Raja Reddy Radha Reddy performed Devi Smriti invoking the goddess to remove people’s sufferings.

Kiran Kumar Reddy, who had announced an assistance of 25 lakh Rupees on the inaugural day, handed over a cheque for the amount to the Union minister of state for Human Resources Development, Smt. Daggubati Purandeswari.

There is a legend concerning the origins of Kuchipudi.  It is said that there was once an orphan of Srikakulam who was raised by the village.  These kind people had him married at childhood as was the custom of the time.  However, for his training he went to Udipi for Vedic studies.  During his study he acquired the name Sidhendra Yogi.

Kuchipudi flourished as a dramatic form of dance for hundreds of years.  It was held in high esteem by the rules of the Deccan.  For instance Tana Shah in 1678 granted the lands around Kuchipudi to the Brahmins who performed the dance.

Modern Kuchipudi acquired its present form in the 20th century.  A number of people were responsible for moving it from the villages to the performance stage.  One of the most notable was guru Lakshminarayan Shastry.  After him, a number of other luminaries would mould it into its present shape.  Some notable names are Vempati Chinna Satyam, C.R. Acharyalu, and Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna.