Kuchipudi (/kiˈpdi/) ( Telugu: te:కూచిపూడి నృత్యం) is one of the eight major Indian classical dances.[2] It originates from a village named Kuchipudi in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.[3]

Kuchipudi dancer
Native nameTelugu: కూచిపూడి నృత్యం
GenreIndian classical dance
OriginKuchipudi Village, Krishna district, Andhra
Kuchipudi dancer performing a tarangam
A Kuchipudi hasta (mudra).[1]

Kuchipudi is a dance-drama performance, with its roots in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text of Natya Shastra.[4][5][6] It developed as a religious art linked to traveling bards, temples and spiritual beliefs, like all major classical dances of India.[7] Evidence of Kuchipudi's existence in an older version are found in copper inscriptions of the 10th century, and by the 15th century in texts such as the Machupalli Kaifat.[8][9] Kuchipudi tradition holds that Tirtha Narayana Yati – a sanyassin of Advaita Vedanta persuasion,[10] and his disciple, an orphan named Siddhendra Yogi, founded and systematized the modern version of Kuchipudi in the 17th century.[11][12][13] Kuchipudi largely developed as a Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition,[14] and it is known by the name of Bhagavata Mela in Thanjavur.[8]

The traditional Kuchipudi was performed by all males troupe. A dancer in a male role would be in Agnivastra, also known as Bagalbandi, wear a dhoti (a single pleated piece of cloth hanging down from the waist).[15][16] A dancer in a female role would wear a Sari with light makeup.[16]

The Kuchipudi performance usually begins with an invocation. Then, each costumed actor is introduced, their role stated, and they then perform a short preliminary dance set to music (dharavu). Next, the performance presents pure dance (nritta).[17] This is followed with by the expressive part of the performance (nritya), where rhythmic hand gestures help convey the story.[17][18] Vocal and instrumental Carnatic music in the Telugu language accompanies the performance.[19] The typical musical instruments in Kuchipudi are mridangam, cymbals, veena, flute and the tambura.[20]

The popularity of Kuchipudi has grown within India and it is performed worldwide.[21][22]

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