Kuchipudi dancer in "Tribhanga" bangima (posture).
Kuchipudi dancer performing a tarangam
A Kuchipudi hasta
Kuchipudi (/) is one of the eleven major Indian classical dances. It originated in a village named Kuchipudi in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
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 Hindu god Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition, and it is most closely related to Bhagavata Mela performance art found in Tamil Nadu.
The traditional Kuchipudi was performed by all males troupe. A dancer in a male role would be in Angivastra, 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.
The popularity of Kuchipudi has grown within India, and it is performed worldwide.
Kuchipudi is named after the village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh named Kuchipudi – shortened form of the full name Kuchelapuram or Kuchilapuri – where it developed. The name of village, states Ragini Devi, is itself derived from Sanskrit Kusilava-puram, which means "the village of actors". Kusilava is a term found in ancient Sanskrit texts and refers to "traveling bard, dancer, newsmonger".