1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Indian classics versus Western classics: Kuchipudi versus ballet June 15, 2007

 photo by mina 

In my post about Kuchipudi course I attend I promissed to follow up on that fascinating art of dance.

Even with that tiny little experience that I have gained by now I can tell you – it is the most fascinating dace I have ever tried to learn (and I learned quite a bit of them!).

I am very lucky with my teacher, Siddhi Bhasale (born Austrian, married to an Indian) who is the best non-Indian Kuchipudi dancer I have ever seen. Many years of ballet-training before she started with Kuchipudi gave her a unique perspective on dancing.

I find it so interesting, especially the comparison of ballet and Indian classical dance that I am eager to share it with you. Most of the ideas are from Siddhi, but already now I can sign under some of them as well!

·         Dancing Kuchipudi engages your whole body, all the muscles and in particular those you are completely unaware of. Especially mudras require such flexibility of fingers that ones could get frustrated by own invalidity

·         The true challenge is in moving simultaneously and in different direction all parts of the body: my poor brain is not use to such physical multitasking and fights with adjusting to it.

·         In ballet movement the body has to build one line, it all happens like in one swing (here I find an interesting parallel to linear style of Western thinking). In Kuchipudi, on the contrary hands do not follow the impulse of feet but live their own life. The worse case is when some very complex hand-movement goes in a double speed in comparison to the legs!

·         Every mudra, every so called step (combination of legs and hands movement) has its special meaning, thus any dance piece is a story one can read

·         Indian classical dancers have no health troubles caused by their profession (like back or joints pain of ballet-dancers): one is constantly half-seated knee bent, it makes a sort of springing-effect that stares the back

·         All in all, Indian classical dance is a hard muscle training; however you will never see a body-builder looking woman dancer. Why? Most of the building up trainings (dances or sports) cause a strong muscle extension (remember stretching as a basic?) – apparently this makes the muscles evident and definitely not feminine!). Indian dancing style causes a kind of a compression of muscles (no idea how it really works but the effect is obvious). Actually Kuchipudi is a great thing for fitness which does not make a lady look like Schwarzenegger. The ballet dancers do not look either, it`s true. But the training is less hard (in compariosson) and they all look rather tense, one can see the body is trained through.

·         Dance is a magic, no doubt. Ballet like “Swan lake” is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. However the magic of an Indian classical dance is of other kind: it is meditative, dynamic, ever growing and simply fascinating! One is taken away be the genius beauty of a human body where every part is so precious, so unique and alive. I heard of a Kuchipudi master who dances his famous Shiva-Parvati dance acting with his left-side like a woman (Parvati), with the right side like a man (Shiva). Can you imagine?! I love the Indian idea of God being femail and male at the same time – but it is a theme for another post.

LOVE, axinia


23 Responses to “Indian classics versus Western classics: Kuchipudi versus ballet”

  1. Winslie Gomez Says:

    Hi Axinia,
    Is Kuchipudi a form of Bharatanatayam?

    • vamshee Says:

      Kuchipudi is totally different from Bharatanatyam…… It is yet another classical dance form like that of Bharatanatyam…. Both come from Southern India. Kuchipudi hails from Andhra Pradesh and Bharatanatyam from Tamil Nadu

  2. Winslie Gomez Says:

    Fascinating post Axinia,
    Especially general well-being through Indian dance.

    The half seated (bent/flexed knee joint) is the same in martial arts of many eastern regions.


  3. axinia Says:

    Thanks, my firend!
    Kuchipudi is one of the 8 classical Indian dances, not a part of Bharatnatyam (which is itself one of them). You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_classical_dance

    I feel such kind of a dance is a great brain-stimulation as well.

  4. Winslie Gomez Says:

    learnt something new!
    Thank you

  5. http://pressposts.com/Personal/Indian-classics-versus-Western-classics-Kuchipudi-versus-ballet/

    Submited post on PressPosts.com – “Indian classics versus Western classics: Kuchipudi versus ballet”

  6. […] Indian classics versus Western classics: Kuchipudi versus ballet   […]

  7. Sandhya Says:

    Hi axinia,
    I am a kuchipudi dancer, who despratley wants to meet a good ballet dancer(who apreciates and respects indian dance)
    how do I contact Sidhi Bhasale ?
    please reply my email address is ……….

  8. […] IndiaThe mind games or the myth of self-improvementSports do not make us healthy! – recent studiesIndian classics versus Western classics: Kuchipudi versus balletNever go to India!About What is your favourite season?axinia – the name originThe magic of this […]

  9. […] amazing performances I have seen several other non-Indian dancers (I wrote about Siddhi Bhasale here) of a high artistic standard. I used to think one has to be born Indian to be able to transfer all […]

  10. […] amazing performances I have seen several other non-Indian dancers (I wrote about Siddhi Bhasale here) of a high artistic standard. I used to think one has to be born Indian to be able to transfer all […]

  11. rads Says:

    Nice write-up. Am one myself and truly fortunate to be able to continue it.

  12. Ramya Says:

    I have seen posts of yours which speak about all arts of India……but none on music…did I miss the post on it?? I am curious to know…..in a sense, you can consider I am asking you about your knowledge of indian music!!

  13. allie rhodes Says:

    I am a girl who always dreamed to be a good kuchipudi
    dancer i live at westvirginia beckley west apt. i need a
    teacher for free please my number 860-1288
    apt. number 529. i am 11 years old. born in1997 july 16.

  14. allie rhodes Says:

    i love the people who dance to it their amazing.

  15. Emily Says:

    Hi Axinia!

    I just came across our comparison of ballet and traditional Indian dance. I am actually living in Delhi and working as a freelance writer. My current project has to do with ballet in India, and it’s relationship (or lack thereof) to Indian classical dance.

    I would love to chat with you briefly about your experiences with ballet and Indian classical dance. If you have just a few moments to spare, please do send me an email at the address included.

    Thank you and warm regards,


  16. want to learn Ballet dance?
    want to know more about western ballet?
    want to be a part of Ballet performance?
    Then come to one n only Ballet company in India….

  17. […] can find links here: Kuchipudi (Lakshmi Lena) About Ballet and Kuchipudi Dance Share and […]

  18. […] About Ballet and Kuchipudi Dance Share and Enjoy: […]

  19. Sorry but i don’t think there can be any comparison between ballet and Indian classical dance. By the way, i’m Indian and learning ballet! I also have learnt quite a lot of kathak, and am on a break from it as of now.

    • GS Says:

      What been your experience with both? I have a 5 year that I want to begin in dance and I am torn between beginning her in western ballet or Indian classical dance, perhaps Kuchipudi or Bharatanatayam. Would love your thoughts since it sounds like you have had experience with both. I would love for her to just begin having the best possible foundation and learning her body, movement and discipline. Thanks for your time or anyone else who wants to chime in.

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