ABOUT KUCHIPUDI / KUCHIPUDI DANCE HISTORY
Kuchipudi is an Indian classical dance form basically originated from Andhra Pradesh, India. But very soon it gained popularity in all over South India, in particular. Bharat Muni who wrote NATYA SHASTRA defined various aspects of kuchipudi dance form. Kuchipudi dancers used to be erratic, scintillating, rounded and fleet footed. They perform with tasteful blend of grace and fluid movements. It shares many common features with Bharatnatyam.
The history and the textual sources provide the link of continuity for the contemporary, almost modern reinterpretation of Kuchipuḍī through the female form during the last two or three decades. The problem of transferring a technique which was evolved for the male body to impersonate female, to be articulated again through the female, presents complex kinesthetical problems. These are the challenges which a Kuchipuḍī dancer faces, meets and overcomes in a successful performance.
This form of dance is as prehistoric as Natya astra (1st century BC). An invocatory verse also indicates that four forms of dance were prevalent then, of which ‘Dakshintya’ or South Indian form is apparently the earliest version of Kuchipudi. There is also historical evidence that the art prospered during the rule of the Satavahanas (2nd century BC). Over the centuries as the performances were dedicated to the worship of Vishnu, the form came to be known as Bhagavata Mela Natakam. It was during Siddhendra Yogi’s time (14th–15th century) that it came to be known as Kuchipudi, named after the village established by Siddhendra Yogi where his follower, the Brahmin performers settled down.
Two parallel schools of dance have existed since time immemorial, viz. Nattuva Mela and Natya Mela. The first evolved into Bharat Natyam and the second into Kuchipudi. There is difference in the demonstration itself. The main difference lies in the abhinaya. The graceful, lasya oriented Kuchipudi gives significance to Vakyartha abhinaya go together. Bharatanatyam on the other hand is Mudra oriented and gives significance to Padartha abhinaya, each word interpreted through mudras. Certain movements are characteristic to Kuchipudi. Vachika abhinaya (use of words/dialogues) is also a distinct feature of the Kuchipudi style.
According to Bharatamava, there are two major varieties of hasta mudras (symbols of the hand) in Kuchipudi, the ASAMYUTA (single) and the SAMYUTA (combined). These are used at different levels of the body, in different directions and in various configurations to mean a variety of things.
ASAMYUTA HASTAS: There are twenty-eight ASAMYUTA mudras classified as Pataka, Tripataka, Ardha-pataka, Kartari-Mukha, Mayura, Ardha-chandra, Arala, Shukatundaka, Mushti, Shikhara, Kapittha, Kataka-mukha, Suchi, Chandrakala, Padmakosha, Sarpa-Shirsha, Mriga-shirsha, Simha-mukha, Langula, Sola-padma, Chatura, Bharamara, Hamsasya, Hamsapaksha, Samdamsa, Mukula, Tamrachuda and Trishula.
SAMYUTA HASTAS: There are 13 types of Samyuta mudras classified as follows-
Anjali: If two palms in the Pataka position are joined together, it is the Anjali hasta. This hasta is used for greetings and is held above the head to greet Gods, it is held between brows to greet Gurus and in front of the chest to greet Brahmins and scholars.
Karkata: When the fingers of two hands are stretched out and intersected, it is the Karkata hasta. It is used for bee’s wax, massaging of arm or leg, yawning after awakening, supporting the chin, pulling down a branch.
Swastika: When two hands in the Arala position are crossed vertically at the wrist and are shifted to the left, it is the Swastika hasta. This mudra is used to display clouds, the sky, forests, sea, seasons, the earth.
Nishadha: When the left hand of the Mukula hasta is covered by the right hand of the Mushti hasta, it is the Nishadha hasta. It is used to express patience, intoxication, arrogance.
Dola: When both shoulders are released and both hands in the Pataka position are lowered along the body line, this is called the Dola hasta. It is used to express weakness, darkness, faint, idleness, passionate love.
Pushpaputa: When two hands in the Sarpasirsha position are closely pressed to each other, it is called the Pushpaputa hasta. It is used to show the receiving or carrying of rice, fruit, flowers and the taking or removing of water.
Makara: When the palms of two hands in the Pataka position are turned downwards and placed one over the other with the thumbs lifted, it is called the Makara hasta. It is used to represent fish, crocodile.
Gajadanto: When two hands in the Sarpasirsha position are placed on the forearms, it is called the Gajadanto hasta.It is used to represent the bride and the groom, excessive weight, embracing a pillar.
Avahitta: When two hands in the Shukatunda position meet each other on the chest with palms turned upwards and the palms are turning slowly over downwards, it is called the Avahitta hasta. It is used to show weakness, to sigh, to find somebody.
Vardhamana: When two hands in the Hamsapaksha position are crossed at the wrist, it is called the Vardhamana hasta. It is used to show opening of the windows, doors etc.