The land of India is blessed with multiple art forms that are very much a part of daily life and the culture of its people.
One such art form is Kuchipudi, a classical dance style that derives its name from the village of Kuchelapuram in Andhra Pradesh, India. Like all other arts in India, Kuchipudi is rooted deep in religion and grew largely as a product of the Bhakti movement beginning in the seventh century A.D. It was only in the 14th century, however, that the ascetic Siddhendra Yogi gave it a new definition and direction. Originally, Kuchipudi was a male-only dance drama tradition. Groups of men traveled from village to village enacting stories from Hindu mythology. As in Elizabethan theater, the roles of women were portrayed by men. It is only in the last century that women have been introduced to this art form. Kuchipudi in its present form is the result of the vision of stalwarts like Padmabhushan Vempati Chinna Sathyam and the late Vedantam Laksminarayana Shastry.
The dance form of Kuchipudi truly has in it all the aspects of dance as mentioned by Natyashastra - Nritta meaning pure dance, Nritya meaning expressional dance, and Natya meaning dance drama. The presentation of dance drama in Kuchipudi strictly follows the rules of traditional Sanskrit theater. The use of laya (rhythm), thandava (footsteps and rhythm), and abhinaya (expression) is common with the Kuchipudi artist, with abhinaya being the most characteristic feature of the dance form. The technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements. Stylized miming, using hand gestures and subtle facial expression, is combined with more realistic acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers. With its blend of techniques, Kuchipudi is unique among the Indian classical dances.