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Classical Indian dance is a theater art which is performed on stages and theaters in India and throughout the world.  Many people think of Bollywood or Bhangra when they hear about Indian dance, but there are many varieties of dance in the subcontinent.  Classical Indian Dance (of which there are 8 different techniques) began in the Hindu temples of India 4,000 years ago.  It is a dynamic art form that expresses worship for the Hindu deities through storytelling; the dancer uses an elaborate language of symbolic hand gestures and facial expression.  The dance also includes rhythmic footwork, athletic grace, and poses that emulate temple sculptures and the divine.

Tara's focus, Kuchipudi is one of many classical dance techniques in India, dating back about 1,500 years.  It began in the state of Andhra Pradesh as a form of worship for Krishna, and was originally performed as a dance/drama solely by men.   


Carnatic music accompanies Kuchipudi and is an integral part of the art form, as the dancer replicates the vibrant rhythms of the mridangam (drum) with her feet, and acts out the verses of the song.  The music is played by melodic instruments such as the veena, and a nattuvangar (musician who recites specific dance syllables) links the dancer's footwork to the music.

Photo by Channing Johnson

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