Kuchipudi is simple or Bharatanatyam is simple

Difference between Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi

Bharatanatyam versus Kuchipudi

Between Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, the two dance forms practiced in India, we can notice certain differences in their styles, costumes, techniques and the like. They are both traditional Indian dances that are very beautiful to watch. That's because they contain beautiful music, costumes, and dance poses. If you have learned Bharatanatyam and hope to learn Kuchipudi, you will find that Kuchipudi has more vivid poses than Bharatanatyam. To an observer who is unfamiliar with either dance style, both may appear the same because of the similarities in costume and movements. That is why we will discuss what differences make them stand out.

What is Bharatanatyam?

If we pay attention to the place where Bharatanatyam originated, we can see that Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form that originated in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Bharatanatyam represents the internal fire of the human body. Hence it is often referred to as Fire dance. If we look at the poses in this dance style, we can see that Bharatanatyam has more sculptural poses. However, if you want to identify a Bharatanatyam dancer without observing the steps, you need to pay attention to the costume. The costumes used in Bharatanatyam have three fans of different lengths. One of them is the longest.

Bharatanatyam has several pieces in its format. A Bharatanatyam recital generally begins with an alarippu. The other elements in the format include Jatiswaram, Sabdam, Padam, Varnam, Tillana, and Asthtapadi. This is just a general rule regarding the format of the Bharatanatyam recital. In addition, Bharatanatayam does not give Vachkabhinayam. That is, the dancer will not sing the song on his lips.

What is Kuchipudi?

If we pay attention to the place where Kuchipudi was created, we can see that the traditional style of the Kuchipudi dance form comes from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The Kuchipudi dance form represents the metaphysical desire of man to unite with God. The dance poses of the Kuchipudi dance form, in contrast to the sculptural poses in Bharatanatyam, tend to consist of rounded poses. You can tell if a dancer is going to dance the Kuchipudi dance style by simply looking at the costume. The costumes used in the Kuchipudi dance style have only one fan and are invariably long than the longest used in the Bharatanatyam style.

When looking at the format of the dance, Kuchipudi focuses mainly on the thillana and jatiswaram aspects of the objects in a performance to show the dancer's intense desire to become one with the supreme god. The poses in Kuchipudi are more vivid compared to the poses in Bharatanatyam. Kuchipudi dancers sing on their lips while dancing. This is because in the past, Kuchipudi dancers would sing their own songs while they were dancing.

What is the difference between Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi?

• Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form that comes from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, the traditional style of the Kuchipudi dance form comes from the state of Andhra Pradesh, also in southern India.

• Both dance forms differ in their poses. In fact, Bharatanatyam has more sculptural poses while Kuchipudi has more rounded poses.

• Bharatanatyam represents the inner fire of the human body. Hence it is often referred to as the fire dance. On the other hand, Kuchipudi represents man's metaphysical desire to unite with God.

• Bharatanatyam has several pieces in its format. A Bharatanatyam recital generally begins with an Alarippu and includes Jatiswaram, Sabdam, Padam, Varnam, Tillana, and Asthtapadi. This is just a general rule regarding the format of the Bharatanatyam recital.

• On the other hand, the Kuchipudi mainly focuses on the Thillana and Jatiswaram aspects to show the dancer's intense desire to become one with the Supreme God.

• The poses in Kuchipudi are more vivid compared to the poses in Bharatanatyam.

• Both forms of dance differ in terms of the type of costumes used by the dancers. The costumes used in Bharatanatyam have three fans of different lengths. One of them is the longest. On the other hand, the costumes used in the Kuchipudi dance style have only one fan and are invariably long as the longest used in the Bharatanatyam style. This is an interesting difference between the two forms.

• Kuchipudi has Vachikabhinayam. That is, they give lip movements like they're singing the song. However, the Bharatanatyam dancer does not make lip movements while dancing. This is one of the main differences between the two forms of dance; namely Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.

Images courtesy of:

  1. Bharatanatyam by Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Kuchipudi by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (CC BY 2.0)