• Part of
    Ubiquity Network logo

    Read Chapter
  • No readable formats available
  • Longing to Dance: Stories of Kuchipudi Brahmin Women

    Harshita Mruthinti Kamath

    Chapter from the book: Kamath, H. 2019. Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in South Indian Dance.


    This chapter focuses on the narratives of brahmin women belonging to hereditary Kuchipudi village families who have been overtly excluded from the embodied labor of performance. Unlike the brahmin men of the Kuchipudi village, who are all associated with dance in some capacity, Kuchipudi brahmin women have no such performative roles to play. Kuchipudi brahmin women’s bodies are not suitable for the labor of Indian dance. Kuchipudi brahmin women are neither the bearers of sāmpradāyam (tradition) in the manner of their fathers, brothers, and sons, nor are they the embodiments of an idealized middle-class Indian womanhood in the manner of their dancing female counterparts. And yet, as upper-caste brahmin women, they retain a position of privilege, particularly in comparison to devadāsī (courtesan) performers who have been overtly marginalized from Kuchipudi dance in postcolonial South India. As a result, Kuchipudi brahmin women occupy an uneasy interstice as brahmin women whose caste and gender enable their position of exclusion. The chapter is centered on the story of Chavali Balatripurasundari, the daughter of Vempati Chinna Satyam.

    Chapter Metrics:

    How to cite this chapter
    Kamath, H. 2019. Longing to Dance: Stories of Kuchipudi Brahmin Women. In: Kamath, H, Impersonations. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.72.f

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

    Peer Review Information

    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on June 4, 2019