Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
“Traditions Engaged is a major, historic festival spanning two of the U.S.’ most prominent cities in premiere venues. Featuring leading Indian classical dancers and musicians and more than sixty artists over six days. Dozens of exciting and insightful daytime performances. 18 major performers in the evening.” — CDDC
In preparation for the Traditions Engaged (TE) festival coming up on October 1-3, I will be introducing the various Indian Classical Dance forms every week, with a brief profile on the art form, a TE artist spotlight, and a schedule of upcoming festival performances. This week’s topic will include Kuchipudi.
Kuchipudi is one of the classical Indian dances of India. It originated in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in a village by the name of Kuchelapuram. The dance form can trace its roots back to the Natyashatra, in which four Pravrittis are mentioned: Dakshinatya, Audramagadhi, Avanti, and Punchali. Kuchipudi developed from the Dakshinatya tradition.
Though it is mentioned in the Natyashastra, the dance form came into being in the 14th century. As other dance forms, Kuchipudi dancers came from the devadasi system of the temples, to the courts of the Nawabs, to the modern day dancer.
Kuchipudi shares some technical commonalities with Bharatanatyam, but concentrates more on the dance drama aspect of the art. Kuchipudi dramas most often depicted stories from Hindu mythology. Kuchipudi utilizes Nritta (pure dance), Nritya (hand and leg gestures), and Natya (story telling). The dance form is known for its characteristic piece known as the Tarangam, in which dancers balances themselves on a brass plate. The entire dance is performed on the plate, often times holding diyas or pots.