Kuchipudi is a classical dance form that originated in the village of Kuchipudi, in Southern India. For a long time, the art was presented only at temples and that too only for annual festivals of certain temples in Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is a male oriented dance drama tradition. It acquired its name from the name of the village it originated from. Both the styles, nattuva mela and natya mela suffered due to exploitation and feudalistic abuse. It is at this time that the ascetic Siddhendra Yogi appeared on the scene and gave the Kuchipudi dance a new definition and direction. He confined it to only male brahmins, thereby giving dance the sanctity of the fifth Veda. Siddhendra Yogi refined and redefined this form of art known as Kuchipudi today. He made it a dance drama tradition, where only male brahmins can play the roles. As such even female roles are played by men. The male Kuchipudi artists are known as Bhagavatulu. About 15 Brahmin families belonging to the village Kuchipudi have been following this tradition for over 5 hundred years. At least two historical evidences speak for the antiquity of this dance form. The Machupalli Kaifiayat of 1502, and the historical records showing the grant of Kuchipudi village to the artists by Abul Hasan Kutub Shah in 1675. Great Gurus like Vedantam Lakshminarayana, Chinta Krishna Murthy, Tadepalli Perayya enriched the repertoire, brought women into this form of dance. Dr.Vempati Chinna Satyam added many more dance dramas and choreographed several solo items, widening the scope and nature of Kuchipudi. The transformation in this form of dance has completed a full circle, from the days when men played the female roles to women playing even male roles.

Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam (also known as Mastaru garu) was born in a traditional family of dancers in the village, Kuchipudi, Andhra Pradesh. Dance was intermingled in Dr. Vempati’s blood and veins. Vedantamu Lakshimi Narayana Sastry, a great master in the field, initiated the young Dr. Vempati into this great art. As he learnt the nuances of this style of dance, Dr. Vempati was very keen to see this great heritage permeate all over the world.

With the desire to spread Kuchipudi, burning within, Dr. Vempati started Kuchipudi Art Academy at Madras in 1963. Dr. Vempati was awarded the prestigious Padmasri award by the Government of India.

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