|Native name||Telugu: కూచిపూడి నృత్యం|
|Genre||Indian classical dance|
|Origin||Kuchipudi Village, Krishna district, Andhra|
Kuchipudi is a dance-drama performance, with its roots in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text of Natya Shastra. It developed as a religious art linked to traveling bards, temples and spiritual beliefs, like all major classical dances of India. 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. Kuchipudi tradition holds that Tirtha Narayana Yati – a sanyassin of Advaita Vedanta persuasion, and his disciple, an orphan named Siddhendra Yogi, founded and systematized the modern version of Kuchipudi in the 17th century. Kuchipudi largely developed as a Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition, and it is known by the name of Bhagavata Mela in Thanjavur.
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). A dancer in a female role would wear a Sari with light makeup.
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). This is followed with by the expressive part of the performance (nritya), where rhythmic hand gestures help convey the story. Vocal and instrumental Carnatic music in the Telugu language accompanies the performance. The typical musical instruments in Kuchipudi are mridangam, cymbals, veena, flute and the tambura.