Kuchipudi, the classical dance style of Andhra Pradesh, is accepted as a solo dance but evolved from the dance-drama tradition of Bhagaveta Mela Natakam. Stories from Hindu mythology, particularly Vaishnava Sampradaya (cult of Lord Vishnu), are interpreted through the medium of stylized and rhythmic movements, typical hasta mudras (hand gestures) and expressional dancing. Kuchipudi lays equal emphasis to elegance and vibrant movements and is performed by both men and women.
Evolution and history
The word Kuchipudi comes from the village Kuchelapuram in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. The Sanskrit word Kusilava-puram refers to the village of actors, travelling bards or dancers. The authoritative text of dance and dramaturgy, written by Bharata Muni, known as Natya Sastra with 6,000 verses in 36 chapters, studied version, evolved during 500 BCE to 500 CE, that mentions the graceful movements known as Kaishiki Vritti. Pre-2nd century text calls one raga (musical melody) as Andhri (Andhra), related to Gandhari Arsabhi. The 1st milllenium Sanskrit text by Bruna Nettle credits its origin to 3rd century.
The copper inscriptions, from 10th to 15th century of Machupalli kaifat refers to Kuchipudi dance. According to Manohar Varadpande, Kuchipudi emerged in the late 13th century during the reign of the Ganga rulers of Kalinga; however, the dancers enjoyed royal patronage during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya in the Vijayanagara empire.
In 1678, the last Shia Muslim Sultan of Golkonda, Abul Hasan Qutub Shah, gifted the Kuchipudi village to the dancers, as he was impressed with their brilliant performance; however, during the reign of Aurangzeb, he was completely against arts and artistes and destroyed the musical instruments, too. The British, too, did not approve of classical dancers and performing art forms suffered a setback.
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