Kuchipudi dance..... Kuchipudi originated from a hamlet in Andhra Pradesh called Kuchelapuri or Kuchelapuram in the 3rd century B.C. This dance style like many other classical dance forms was presented at temples and was performed by the Brahmin men (known as Bhagavathalu Kuchipudi dramas are enacted during nights in open air on improvised stages. The audience sits on the ground. Before the dance drama starts there are certain rituals which are performed in front of the audience. After the rituals the Soothradhara or the conductor, with the supporting musicians, comes on the stage and gives a play of rhythm on the drums and cymbals and announces the title of the dance drama. After this two people enter, holding a curtain behind which is a dancer in the mask of Ganpati (the elephant headed god). The dancer dances for some time to worship Ganpati, so that the dance drama goes on without hitches. In a Kuchipudi performance, each principal character introduces himself or herself on the stage with a daru. A daru is a small composition of dance and song specially designed for each character to help him or her reveal his or her identity and also to show the performer's skill in the art. There are nearly 80 darus or dance sequences in the dance drama. Behind a beautiful curtain held by two persons, Satyabhama enters the stage with her back to the audience. Bhama Kalapam, Gollakalapam, Prahlada Charitam, Sashirekha Parinaya etc.are some of the famous dance dramas. Make-up and costumes are characteristics of this art form. The important characters wear different make-up and the female characters wear ornaments and jewellery such as Rakudi (head ornament), Chandra Vanki (arm ornament), Adda Bhasa and Kasina Sara (neck ornament), and a long plait decorated with flowers and jewellery. The music used in Kuchipudi is classical Carnatic. The violin, mridangam and clarinet are the common instruments used as an accompaniment. Kuchipudi was introduced as a dance drama but its present day dispensation tells a different story. It is now reduced only to dance. With proficient training and knowledge, the Kuchipudi dances have started presenting the dance form in their individualistic ways. Majority of dancers are women today. Some of the exponents of this dance form are Guru V.C. Satyam, Satyanarayana Sarma, Swapnasundari, Mallika Sarabhai, V. Prahalada Sarma, M.V.N. Murthy, Raja Reddy, Radha Reddy, Jaya Ram Rao and Vanashree Rao.