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Difference Between Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi

Bharatnatyam vs. Kuchipudi

Bharatnatyam is a distinctive traditional form of Indian classical dance originating from the culturally rich state of Tamil Nadu. On the other hand Kuchipudi is a traditional Indian classical dance form originating in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Bharatnatyam is a unique dance form that stands for the diverse reconstructions of the ancient art of Cathir which were revived in the 19th and 20th century. Cathir was the traditional art of the extraordinary temple dancers portraying some of the most distinctive ancient dance forms. The etymology of this dance form comes from the name of a little village within the place called Divi Taluq in the Krishna district, bordering the Bay of Bengal. This particular dance form was traditionally practiced by the Brahmin inhabitants of this village and hence the name. Kuchipudi as a classical dance form achieved excellence during the rule of Abdul Hassan Tanesha of the Golconda Dynasty. The King was so mesmerized with this novel dance form that he gave 600 acres of territory as a bequest from Tanesha to the Kuchipudi Brahmins for the grand presenting of this dance.

Cathir and Bharatnatyam are dance forms primarily inspired by the sculptures of the antique Chidambaram Temple. The very name Bharatnatyam denotes BHA or Bhava meaning Expression, RA or Raga meaning Music and TA or Tala meaning Rhythm. On the other hand Kuchipudi or ‘Koochipoodi’ which is the traditional pronunciation is an initiated dance form that primarily originated from the creations and contributions of the original Brahmin dancers.

Kuchipudi Dance

Bharatnatyam is precisely known for its elegance, grace, softness, clarity and sculptured poses. On the other hand most of the poses in Kuchipudi are brisk, flat-footed, dazzling and overall curved having more rounded poses.

Bharatnatyam, by its inception is taken to be a fire dance, one that manifests the mystic metaphysical rudiments of fire within the human body. Hence the poses of a typical Bharatnatyam dancer reflects the movements of a dancing flame. On the other hand the Kuchipudi exposition includes ’tillana’ and ‘jatiswaram’ both of which reflect the longing of the disciple to become one with the ultimate and the omnipotent God. Kuchipudi is symbolical of the unification of human soul with that eternal cosmic soul.

Other than the stylistic differences of Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam, there are delicate distinctions in the attires of both these dance forms as well. Bharatnatyam dresses in general comprises of three fans of different heights. These three fans together form the impression of the scattering portions of a pleated sari. Nonetheless, the Kuchipudi dress characteristically has just a single fan present that is longer than the lengthiest fan in a Bharatnatyam dress.


1)Bharatnatyam is a form of Classical dance from Tamil Nadu whereas Kuchipudi is a classical dance form from Andhra Pradesh.
2)Bharatnatyam has more sculptured poses whereas Kuchipudi has more rounded poses.
3)Bharatnatyam is termed the fire dance replicating the inner fire within the human body. On the other hand, Kuchipudi replicates man’s undying desire to unite with God.
4)The Bharatnatyam costumes have three fans of dissimilar lengths. But the Kuchipudi dresses have a single fan that is lengthier than the lengthiest fan in the former.

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  1. This site is good. But it will be more beautiful if you add some more points to it.

  2. I am not an artist in any way. But I just bumped into a youtube video describing Vempati China Satyam, who is considered instrumental in reviewing Kuchipudi and spreading it. So wondering why he is not mentioned in the article.

  3. Also, apart from the difference which are nicely mentioned in the article, I wanted to know the command root for both. I mean I guess both are based on NatyaShastram by Bharata, and that is not mentioned in the article.

  4. Analysis is biased just see the link from the great dance who practiced both form of dance

  5. These points are very useful.

  6. My respect for this post/blog is lost, the moment I read this statement.

    “Bharatnatyam is a distinctive traditional form of Indian classical dance originating from the culturally rich state of Tamil Nadu. On the other hand Kuchipudi is a traditional Indian classical dance form originating in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh”

    culturally rich state of Tamilnadu
    South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh

    Cleary shows the bias…Sorry friend…if you want to post such things, don’t be biased

  7. I have noticed that when you say Tamil Nadu ignorant people connect up with Tamil Language. The fact that Tamil Nadu or Andhra or Kerala or Karnataka are more recent formations of the southern part of India. When such analysis is presented one should mention the languages involved with dance or music. For instance Tyagaraja Orc syana Sastry composed in Telugu. For Tyagaraja it was his mother tongue. So also Purandara Dasa composed in Kannada and Swati Thirunal composed in Manipravaalam older language to Malayalam itself. Using this parallel , Bharatanatyam is the property of Tamil Nadu as it is a common dance form of South overall. Our forefathers have been exponents of dance and music. So publishers of articles must go into more depth while explaining in such articles. But Ofcourse ourvthanls for putting explanations on the differences otherwise ordinary people don’t even know this much

  8. Suppose as a layman u go to concert in the middle and to identify whether it is bharata natyam and kuchpudi. As I know, in one the dancer pronounces the song( lip moves) and in another,dancer is tight lipped. 2. The dancer, during performances moves a lot on the dias but in another, the dancer moves in small space on the dias. 3. Eyes expressions are different. 4. Movement of hands, body varies.

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