Andhra Pradesh, a state in the south-eastern coastal region of India is famous for its rich cultural heritage. This state is very popular for its Ecotourism. The state is well known for its performing arts, and diverse folk dances. Dances of Andhra Pradesh are diverse but unique
- The colorful Folk dances of Andhra Pradesh add to its uniqueness. In India, different states have their native folk dance forms and some are among the best dances in the world.
- Andhra Pradesh folk dances are a mixture of dance, drama, and gestures. Each dance step has its own meaning. The world-famous traditional dance of Andhra Pradesh is Kuchipudi which has been encouraged and practiced for centuries.
- Besides Kuchipudi, the well-known folk dance of Andhra Pradesh, there are many other dance forms that originated in this state.
Here are some of the popular folk dances of Andhra Pradesh you should know about:
1. Kuchipudi – The world-famous folk dance of Andhra Pradesh
Kuchipudi originated in Andhra Pradesh and it is one of the popular classical dances of Andhra Pradesh. It also falls under the prominent classical dances of India. It is listed among the eight major classical dances of India. The dance form is very popular in the southern states of India. The name ‘Kuchipudi’ is derived from the term Kuchelapuram, the name of a village.
- The dance originated in the 17th Century. It was created by Sidhyendra Yogi during the Bhakti movement. It was first performed as a dance drama ‘Bhama Kalapam’, the story of Satyabhama.
- The Andhra Pradesh dance form comprises graceful movements and has a strong narrative. The traditional Kuchipudi used to be performed by Brahmin males in the medieval era, the music and dance were dedicated to Lord Krishna.
In the 20th Century, modern Kuchipudi is also performed on stages besides villages. A Kuchipudi dancer is trained in dance, music, and acting and is well-versed in different languages.
The musical instruments used in Kuchipudi:
Mridangam, Tanpura, Venu, Surpeti, Kanjira, Violin, Manjira, Saraswati Vina.
Some famous Kuchipudi dancers are:
Yamini Krishnamurthy (she is one of the most distinguished dancers of Kuchipudi, she received many awards including Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhusan)
other prominent dancers are Bhavana Reddy, Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, and Guru Smt. Vijaya Prasad, Vyjayanthi Kashi.
It is an Andhra Pradesh traditional dance. The dance revolves around Satyabhama, the jealous wife of Lord Krishna. ‘Bhama’ was her name and ‘kalapam’ means jealousy.
- It was created by Siddhendra Yogi and is similar to the dramatic Kuchipudi dance form. The Bhamakalapam dance displays Lasya (the feminine movements in the dance).
- It is based on the jealousy of Lord Krishna’s wife towards Radha. The dance is related to Indian Mythology and is solely practiced by the Brahmans.
Some famous Bhamakalapam dancers are:
Siddhendra Yogi, P. Shashi Latha Krishna as Satyabhama, Sobha Naidu, Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma as Satyabhama, Manju Bhargavee.
Veeranatyam, the dance performed by Lord Shiva when he was filled with rage due to Sati’s humiliation and death. There were several rituals performed by the Veera Saiva Cult on festive occasions. It is a ferocious dance form.
- It is a popular dance form in the East and West Godavari including Kurnool, Warangal, Ananthapur, and Khammam districts in Andhra Pradesh.
- The dance starts by holding Veerabhadra Pallem, a huge plate with burning camphor. The sound of war drums and the priest’s recital in the background creates a unique atmosphere. The artists perform as long as the fire blazes.
Next, the performers cover themselves in Vibhuti, the sacred ash. The dancers tie themselves with long, sharp ropes (Veera tallu) and their tongues, ankles, and hands are pierced with tridents. This Andhra Pradesh dance form is also known as the dance of Destruction.
The ancient Minstrels of Andhra Pradesh used to perform this folk dance of Andhra Pradesh. In Telegu, ‘Burra’ means skull. It is practiced in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The dancers of Burrakatha use a unique Tambura that resembles a skull. It became popular among the common people after it was practiced by some Hindu artists.
- The person who plays the Tambura tells a story and also dances to the music. The principal dancer has a metal ring on their right thumb.
- The other performers play the drum with two heads and there is also a person who plays a joker called the Hasyaka, he stands on the right side and makes the audience laugh. The person who stands on the left side is called the Rajakiya, the politician.
Some famous dancers are:
Pendyala Venkateshwara, Chintalal Suryanarayana, Paruchuri Ramakotayya, Kosuri Punnayya, Sirivisetti Subbarao, Davuluru, Mahankali Lakshmi, Chintala Koteswaramma.
Dappu is a part of the culture of the Madigas – a community residing in parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Dappu is an instrument found in every house of the Madiga community. This dance form belongs to the people of the Lower caste.
- Dappu is also a symbol of revolution against the upper caste communities
- Dappu has always been practiced by men. The dancers wear vibrant dresses and dance to the beat of tabla and other musical instruments. It is performed by wearing head turbans, ‘Talapaga’ with dhoti, ankle bells, and datti.
6. Butta Bommalu
Butta Bommalu is one of the amazing folk dances in Andhra Pradesh. It is performed to celebrate the happiness of festivals. The word ‘Butta Bommalu’ means ‘Basket Toys’. Folklores say that the name Butta Bommalu originated from the name of the king, some say that the name refers to the costume. This Andhra Pradesh dance is also known as the Dance of Masks.
- The dance uses colorful and big Toy like figures. It is very popular among kids.
- It is an easy dance form that does not require any special training, it can be performed by everyone. The dance is generally performed in small groups.
- The dance costume is made of bamboo sticks, dry grass, cow dung, and paint. It is hollow from the inside. The dancers look like puppets. Each dancer wears a costume on their head, shoulder, and waist. Costumes of Krishna, Shiva, Rama, and Hanuman are very popular.
Bonalu is a traditional dance of Andhra Pradesh honoring the mother goddess. The story behind the Bonalu dance is that there was an epidemic in 1869, so the people started pleasing the goddess to find a solution. It is believed that the goddess was pleased and they were relieved of the epidemic. The ritual is still performed after the harvest every year.
- The mother goddess is offered a meal after the harvest and is also accompanied by the dance.
- This meal consists of pickles, water, rice, jaggery, and onion. Lamps are lit in front of the Goddess. They are arranged in a sequence from bigger to smaller ones. Pots are also placed in front of the Goddess.
- They dance by balancing the pots on their heads to please Mahankali, the village deity. The male dancers, Potharajus, precede the female dancers to the temple.
- The women offer the meal, saris, and bangles to the Goddess.
It is an official folk dance of Andhra Pradesh. Dhimsa dance is performed to bond with the neighboring villages. The communities join hands while dancing. It is performed during the months of March and April. The dancers are covered with jewelry and dance to the beats of drums on special occasions like weddings and anniversaries. It is well known in the Araku valley, Visakhapatnam.
- There are different forms of Dhimsa dance like Boda Dhimsa – to honor the village goddess, Gunderi Dhimsa – Males dance in peacock feathers inviting the females to participate with them. Other forms include Goodi, Bhag, and Natikari.
- Both men and women participate in this tribal dance. The women wear colorful sarees and traditional tribal jewelry.
Kolattam is very popular among Andhra Pradesh folk dances. The unique element of this dance is that it is performed with sticks. This dance originated during the seventh century.
- This dance is performed during village festivals. Both men and women can perform, earlier it was restricted to only females.
- The dance is performed in large groups, where two members perform as a pair. Two circles are formed during the dance, one inner circle, and one outer circle. The circles move in opposite directions dancing to the rhythmic beats.
- There are various themes and styles of Kolattam dance. The dance form is also known by the names KolKollannalu, and Kolannalu.
- The men wear anklet bells, dhoti, and white color shirts. Women wear common saris that are yellow in color with red borders.
- The musical instruments are played by the musicians. The instruments mostly used are Mridangam and Harmonium.
Lambadi dance is mainly performed by female dancers who dance to the tune of male drummers. They perform the dance after a good harvest to thank Lord Shiva. It is a special kind of dance form performed by the nomadic tribal people of Andhra Pradesh. The dance originated at Anupu Village.
- The semi-nomadic tribes of Andhra Pradesh, Senegalese, and Banjaras take part in this dance form.
- The women wear sequinned Rajasthani-styled sarees decorated with mirrors.
11. Tappeta Gullu Folk Dance
Tappeta gullu dance is a devotional dance mainly performed by men to please the goddess of the rain. It is a lively dance form that derived its name from the musical instrument ‘Tappeta Gundlu’, which is an instrument like a flat drum.
- It is extremely popular in North Andhra districts like Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, and Visakhapatnam.
- The dancers hang the drums around their necks and create rhythm by dancing.
- The dancers were vibrant dhotis and shirts, the dancers also wear bells around their ankles.
The best way to explore a place is by diving into its rich culture and heritage. The famous dances of Andhra Pradesh are unique and have their own history.