Kuchipudi is one of India’s nine classical dance forms, originating from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The form is stylistically identified by its fast-paced footwork and fluid torso movements.
The origins of Kuchipudi can be traced to the 2nd century B.C., but most of Kuchipudi’s distinctive features, as we know them today, have been traced to the innovations introduced by the scholar, performer and dancer, Siddhendra Yogi, who lived in the 14th century. He had inherited an all-female dance form that had fallen into grave disrepute. Siddhendra Yogi, through hard training of young Brahmin boys and dedication, succeeded in rejuvenating Kuchipudi. For the next six centuries, Kuchipudi became established as an all male dance tradition.
In the early 1900s, the dance form’s stylistic direction was changed again by Vedantam Lakshminarayana Shastri. He moved from the village of Kuchipudi to the metropolis of Madras (now Chennai), a major center for art and culture in India. There, he introduced women to Kuchipudi and choreographed several solo dances, which have now become standards pieces in the Kuchipudi repertoire.
His student was Padmabhushan Dr. Vempati Chinnasatyam. Guru Chinnasatyam further popularized Kuchipudi worldwide. His choreography is known for its creativity, polish, refinement and complexity.
(Text courtesy of Kalanidhi Dance)