Difference Between Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi (with Table)

Dance is a physical form of expression of creativity. A dancer uses his or her body parts, facial expressions, and movements to express feelings, emotions, and tell stories. There are numerous forms of dance, based on the dancing style, culture, etc.

Many different cultures of the world have their own unique dance styles. Since India is a land of varying cultures, as a result, there are numerous cultural dance styles in this country. Two prominent dance styles are Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi.

Now, it is easy to get confused between which state has which dance style as their traditional dance form, and what do these dance styles portray.

Bharatnatyam is the traditional dance style of Tamil Nadu. It was earlier known as Sadira Attam and its main aim is to express religious themes and spiritual ideas of South India, specifically, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism.

Kuchipudi, on the other hand, is the traditional dance style of Andhra Pradesh. It had originated in a village called Kuchipudi, which is located in the same state. Quite similar to Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi dramatizes the religious aspect of temples and spiritual beliefs of India.

The difference between Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi is that Bharatnatyam is the classical dance of Tamil Nadu, whereas Kuchipudi is the traditional dance of Andhra Pradesh.

Comparison Table Between Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi

Parameters of ComparisionBharatnatyamKuchipudi
StateTamil Nadu.Andhra Pradesh.
Dance MethodPrecise and rhythmic steps.Rounded steps.
Dress Has three fans of different lengths.One fan is longer than the other, and the number of fans is not necessarily three.
Time of OriginIs of ancient origin.Is relatively younger than Bharatnatyam.
Elements in FocusThe element of Fire.The element of Earth.

What is Bharatnatyam?

Bharatnatyam is the traditional dance of Tamil Nadu, which is one of the oldest classical dance that is performed in India. It is one of the 8 officially recognized classical dances, the others being Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Mohiniyattram, Manipuri, and Sattriya. 

The main characteristics of this dance form are flexed knees and bent legs, also the upper torso does not show much movement, and there is a lot of delicate footwork accompanied by plenty of sign languages via the use of hands, eyes, and face muscles.

Bharatnatyam expresses the religious message and practices that took place in South India. 

It is usually accompanied by classical music, which is why Bharatnatyam is a team performance. There are the musicians, the singers, and the solo performer.

The dancer wears a colorful sari and jewelry and performs properly synchronized steps that go in rhythm with the classical music that plays along with the performance. These movements try to communicate legends, religious ideas, and messages, prayers that are derived from or extracted from the shastras, and other epics such as the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana.

The total performance of Bharatnatyam follows a seven-part procedure. It goes in the following manner, Alarippu, Jatiswaram, Shabdam, Varnam, Padam, Tillana, Shlokam or Mangalam.

Bharatnatyam is a dance of signs, and the signs that are portrayed using the hand are called mudras. Also, since Bharatnatyam is so deeply rooted in the ancient Indian culture, that it is no surprise that there are plenty of yogic asanas that are found when one performs Bharatnatyam.

Originally, the music that is used in Bharatnatyam is Carnatic music, involving instruments such as mridangam, cymbals, flutes, and veenas. 

Bharatnatyam scaled

What is Kuchipudi?

Kuchipudi is the cultural dance of Andhra Pradesh. It actually originated in a small village called Kuchipudi, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, thus the name of the dance. Like Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi is also one of the eight major classical dance forms of India. It is based on the traditional Indian text of Natya Shashtra. It depicts the religious drama and messages of the bards and the major spiritual beliefs of ancient India. Kuchipudi is based on the Krishna oriented Vaishnavism tradition.

Originally, the dancers of Kuchipudi were a male troupe. The costume of the dance would be Angivastra and a dhoti. When females dance, their costume is just a Sari and some light make-up.

The sequence of performance of Kuchipudi starts with an invocation. Each dancer has a specified role and performs a short preliminary act following which is the actual dance.

Similar to Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi too is performed with accompanying classical music. However, contrary to Bharatnatyam, there are more rounded and graceful movements in Kuchipudi. 

The main instruments used in Kuchipudi are mridangam, flutes, and violins, and thamburi. The performance is always led by the chief musician, traditionally, called the Sutradhara, who beats the cymbal, thus determining the rhythm of the performance and also recite musical syllables. There is also a clarinetist, violinist. A flutist may be present too.

There are various styles of Kuchipudi, because of the varying creativity of the teachers who have taught it over the years. The Margi and Desi have been around for a long time and have been mentioned in the Nrittaratnavali of Jaya Senapati. Actually, the Desi style is an openly more innovative version of the more conservative Margi style.

Kuchipudi

Difference between Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi

  1. The main difference between Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi is that Bharatnatyam is the cultural dance of Tamil Nadu, while Kuchipudi is the traditional dance of Andhra Pradesh.
  2. Bharatnatyam has more precise and rhythmic steps, while Kuchipudi has more graceful and rounded steps.
  3. The dress of Bharatnatyam has three fans of different lengths. The sari in Kuchipudi has varying lengths of fans, with one longer than the rest.
  4. Bharatnatyam focuses on the element of fire, while Kuchipudi focuses on the element of earth.
  5. Bharatnatyam is the oldest form of classical dance in India. Kuchipudi is relatively younger than Bharatnatyam

Conclusion

Dance is a form of pure expression of emotions and if performed effectively, it can portray a whole epic in a very dramatic and emotional manner. Whether it is Bharatnatyam or Kuchipudi, the delivery and emotions expressed by dance are entirely based on the performer’s skills.

Even, the music performed by the musicians, whether it be the thump of the mridanga or the high-pitched clash of cymbals brings forth a universal note that reverberates with everybody. After all, all these performances are meant to tell a story, a story everyone could get to know. The story of ancient India.

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shankarashis_Mukherjee/publication/309211637_Effect_of_Regular_Practicing_Bharatnatyam_Dancing_Exercise_on_Body_Fat_of_Urban_Female_Teenagers/links/5805f64008aeb85ac85e3b65.pdf
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Xa8FamiJJKgC&oi=fnd&pg=PA5&dq=kuchipudi&ots=QWeXbFvVJm&sig=5WqBIcVsSMemQoO8aZLwVV9uMBU