• A classical Indian dance-drama named after a village in thesouthern state of Andhra Pradesh. The name is now also applied toany dance of this style.

    The first recorded performance was in 1505, when a Brahmintroupe performed for King Vira Narasimha Raya. In the late 17th centurySiddhendra Yogi composed Kuchipudi plays, requiring membersof Brahmin families to perform (once in their lives) the role of Satyabhama,Krishna's jealous wife, in his play Bhamakalapam. This obligationis still in force.

    The Kuchipudi companies have always toured. Performances,which last all night, are given in an open space in front of a templeand begin with a prayer to the goddess Amba. Dancers follow, beforethe stage manager (sutradhara) announces the play. A dancerenters wearing the mask of the elephant-headed god Ganapati, followedby the chief character, who enters with a spectacular flash producedby resin powder thrown onto an oil torch. Actors are required to beskilful and acrobatic dancers and to learn the repertoire of handand body gestures; exceptional performers are honoured by membersof the audience, who stop the show to adorn them with fresh flowers.