Kuchipudi is a classical dance-drama tradition that is believed to have originated in the 15th century A.D. in the Telugu-speaking region of India. Like most dance forms of India, Kuchipudi finds its roots in the ancient text of theatrics, the Natya Sastra, and has a rich cultural connection to older theatrical diversions such as the Yakshagana, Brahmana Mela and other uparupaka-s (regional theatrical forms) from this region in the 10th century A.D.
Here, we discuss the origin, evolution and salient features of Kuchipudi. We will begin with a discussion on the main identifying features of Kuchipudi such as the gait, body movements, facial expressions and attire. Following this, we will briefly discuss the origin of this theatrical form and the significance of the current-day Kuchipudi village. Then, we will delve into the salient features of Kuchipudi dance-drama such as purvaranga vidhi (rituals before beginning the performance), daruvu (introductory dance for main characters), music, dialogues, costume and so on. We will end with a discussion on the evolution of Kuchipudi from a group theatrical dance-drama format into the current day solo dance format. The aim of this presentation is to educate and appreciate this ancient art form and is intended for anyone who is interested in understanding it better.