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Indian dance is conscious of the close relationship between human beings and god.
Dance was a ritual form of worship in temples for e.g. devdasis in the temples, in their rituals of worship , kept
alive the art form.
The principles of indian dance derive from the Natyashastra (2
century AD) by Bharatmuni.
Natya includes: dance,music and drama.
Bharatmuni traces the origin of dance to Brahma, who on perceiving the growing desire, greed , jealousy and
misery in the world , went into deep meditation and created a fifth Veda ,the Natyaveda,representing the
essence of existing four vedas.
This contained : the intellectual content of rig veda,the music of samveda, the abhinaya or mime from the
yajurveda and the rasa from atharvaveda .
The dancing shiva , Nataraja represents in his art , creation,preservation ,destruction ,release from the bondage
and the cycle of life and death.

Two basic aspects : Tandava and lasya
Tandava denotes movement and rhythm while lasya denotes grace,bhava ,rasa and abhinaya.
Nritta is dance movements in their basic form while nritya is expressional ,enacting the sentiments of a
particular theme
These are expressed through mudras or gestures and poses.
There are 108 karana or fundamental poses.
Famous treatises on dance :Nandikeswaras abhinaya darpana , maheshwar mahapatras abhinaya chandrika
and jadunath singhs abhinaya prakash.
The varied human emotions, are known as RAS. In Hindi, rasliterally means a sugary juice. It signifies the
ultimate satisfaction of aanand. Human emotions can be categorized into nine sub-headings or navras. They
1. Hasya laughter
2. Bhayanak evil Shringar aesthetics
3. Rudra chivalrous
4. Karun pathos
5. Vir courage
6. Adbhut astonishing
7. Vibhatsa terrifying glory
8. Shaanti peace
9. Shringaar decorating ones self

A possible origin of the name is from Bharata Muni, who wrote the Natya Shastra. A popular folk etymology
holds that "Bhavam" means expression, "ragam" meaning music, "thalam" meaning rhythm
and natyam meaning dance.
Bharata Natyam , also spelled Bharatanatyam, is a classical Indian dance form that originated in the temples
of Tamil Nadu.This dance form denotes various 19th- and 20th-century reconstructions of Sadir, the art of
temple dancers called Devadasis.
Surviving texts of the golden age of Tamil literature and poetry known during the Sangam Age such as
the Tolkappiyam(), as well as the later Silappadikaram (), testify to a
variety of dance traditions which flourished in these times.
Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharata Natyam dance postures karanas. In fact,
it is the celestial dancers, apsaras, who are depicted in many scriptures dancing the heavenly version of what is
known on earth as Bharata Natyam. In the most essential sense, a Hindu deity is a revered royal guest in his
temple/abode, to be offered the "sixteen hospitalities" - among which are music and dance, pleasing to the
senses. Thus, many Hindu temples traditionally maintained complements of trained musicians and dancers, as
did Indian rulers.
the center of most arts in India is Bhakti (devotion) and therefore, Bharata Natyam as a dance form and carnatic
music set to it are deeply grounded in Bhakti.
Bharata Natyam has three distinct elements to it: Nritta (rhythmic dance movements), Natya (mime, or dance
with a dramatic aspect), and Nritya (combination of Nritta and Natya).
Bharata Natyam is considered to be a fire-dance the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of
fire in the human body. It is one of the five major styles (one for each element) that include Odissi (element of
water), Kuchipudi (element of earth), Mohiniattam (element of air) and Kathakali (element of sky or aether).
The movements of an authentic Bharata Natyam dancer resemble the movements of a dancing flame.
Contemporary Bharata Natyam is rarely practiced as Natya Yoga, a sacred meditational tradition, except by a
few orthodox schools
Bharata Natyam proper is a solo dance, with two aspects, lasya, the graceful feminine lines and movements,
and tandava Ananda Thandavam (Tamil) (the dance of Shiva), masculine aspect, which is identical to the Yin and
Yang in the Chinese culture.
In most solo performances, Bharata Natyam involves many split characters that are depicted by the dancer. The
dancer will take on numerous characters by switching roles through the swift turn in circle and creates a story
line that can be easily followed by the feat of one individual. The characters will be understood by the narrative
of the song and the expression, or "abhinaya. However, in more modern times, Bharata Natyam performances
have taken stage as group performances involving dramatical performances that require many characters
depicted by various dancers.
It consists of elaborate gestures (Mridu Angaharas, movements of limbs), sentiments (Rasas), emotional states
(Bhavas). Actions (Kriyas) are its soul. The costume should be charmingly beautiful and love (Sringara) is its
. In Hindu mythology the whole universe is the dance of the Supreme Dancer, Nataraja, a name for Lord Shiva,
the Hindu ascetic yogi and divine purveyor of destruction of evil. The symbolism of the dance of Shiva (in the
form of Nataraja) is represented by the attitude called "Ananda Tandavam". Also known as the cosmic dancer,
he is here the embodiment and manifestation of the eternal energy in five activities (panca-kriya): creation,
pouring forth, unfolding; maintenance or duration (sthiti); destruction or taking back (smhara)
The quartet of Chinnayya Pillai, Ponniah Pillai, Sivanandam Pillai and Vadivelu Pillai of the Tanjore Court, during
the rule of Maratha King Saraboji II (17981832), made a rich contribution to music and Bharata Natyam and
also completed the process of re-editing the Bharata Natyam programme into its present shape with its various
E. Krishna Iyer was one of those who raised the social status of Bharata Natyam and greatly popularized it.
Rukmini Devi Arundale was also instrumental in modifying mainly the Pandanallur style of Bharata Natyam and
bringing it to the attention of the West.
Rukmini Devi Arundale introduced group performances and staged various Bharata Natyam-based ballets.
Having studied Bharata Natyam for three years, in 1936 Rukmini Devi Arundale founded the school Kalakshetra
outside the city of Madras to teach it and to promote other studies in Indian music and art. She was one of first
teachers to instruct a few men to perform the dance. The dance, at that time, was exclusively performed by
women, while men, called Nattuvanars, had only been teaching Bharata Natyam without actually performing it.
It is worth noticing that most of the contemporary Bharata Natyam dancers do not satisfy the criteria for a
professional danseuse stated in the scriptures.
Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, who was originally trained in the Vazhuvoor style of Bharata Natyam, was another
figure that greatly influenced the development of Bharata Natyam. She started her research on karanas in early
sixties, and later announced the creation of a new Bharata Natyam variety, Bharatanrityam, which was a
Bharata Natyam-based reconstruction of Natya Shastra's technique. While the Pandanallur style, Tanjore or
Thanjavur, Vazhuvoor, Mysore, Kancheepuram were based on the art of rajadasis and are easily understandable
in nature, some others, like the Melattur style and Balasaraswati's style grew out of the devadasis' distinctly
different esoteric(only understandable by selected few) art.
There are 3 aspects to dance; Nritta, Nritya and Natya. Nritta is a pure dance without any emotions, expressions or
sahityam. E.g. Alarippu, Jatiswaram. Nritya has sahityam (a sentence which means something). It has emotions,
expressions and has a meaning shown by the hastas. E.g. Ganeshakautvam, Ranganjali, Karthikeyakautvam. Natya is
when a person is portraying a character. E.g. All padams
There are 4 types of abhinaya in dance. They are
1. Anghika - Physical or body movements.
2. Vachika - the song being played, poetry
3. Aaharya - Ornamentation of a character/dancer e.g. jewellery, costume
4. Satvika - Involuntary movements e.g. trembling, break of voice, tears

Typically a performance includes:

A presentation of the Tala punctuated by simple syllables spoken by the dancer. This really is sort of an invocation to the
gods to bless the performance. Alaripu is performed in different jatis. Tishra, Mishra, Chatushra, Sankirna are the
different types of jatis.
Ancient temple dance item performed in the beginning of the recital, containing rhythmic syllables sung for jathis.
Ganapati Vandana
A traditional opening prayer to the Hindu god Ganesh, who removes obstacles.
a starting dance in which we show respect towards the god
An abstract dance where the drums set the beat. Here the dancer displays her versatility in elaborate footwork and
graceful movements of the body.
The dancing is accompanied by a poem or song with a devotional or amorous theme. Shabdam is usually depicting
graceful movements in a story or a poem
The center piece of the performance. It is the longest section of the dance punctuated with the most complex and
difficult movements. Positions of the hands and body tell a story, usually of love and the longing for the lover.
Probably the most lyrical section where the dancer "speaks" of some aspect of love: devotion to the Supreme Being; or
of love of mother for child; or the love of lovers separated and reunited.
Hymn in praise of a deity that may contain a feigned mockery, etc.
Item containing a lot of dramatic elements.
Javalis are relatively new, pure abhinaya types of compositions of light and pleasing nature. Like Padams the underlying
theme of Javalis is Sringara Rasa depicting the Nayaka-Nayaki bhava.
The final section is a pure dance (nritta) when the virtuosity of the music is reflected in the complex footwork and
captivating poses of the dancer.
Apart from these items, there are items such as Shlokam, Swarajathi, Krithi etc. The performance concludes with the
chanting of a few religious verses as a form of benediction. Certain styles include more advanced items, such as
Tharanga Nritham and Suddha Nritham. When a dancer has mastered all the elements of dance, as a coming out
performance, he or she generally performs an Arangetram (debut).

This is a devotional song on Lord Shiva and an item dance in Bharata Natyam. It can also be performed in byapti slow
motion. The words for the shloka are " Angikam Bhuvanam Yasya, Vachikam Sarva Vangmayam, Aaharyam Chandra
Taradhi, Tvam Numah Satvikam Shivam"

Bharata Natyam dancers wear a unique set of jewelry known as "Temple Jewelry" during the performance
From the ancient texts and sculptures, one can see that the original costume did not cover most of the dancers'
bodies. The medieval times, with the puritanistic drive, caused the devadasis to wear a special, heavy saree that
severely restricted the dance movements. There are several varieties of Bharata Natyam costumes, some of
which do not restrict the dancer's movements, while the others do. The modern costumes are deeply symbolic,
as their purpose is to project the dancer's sukshma sharira (cf.aura), in the material world.

The accompanying music is in the Carnatic style of South India.
Mostly, South Indian instruments are used in the ensemble. These include, the mridangam (drum), nagaswaram
(long pipe horn made from a black wood), the flute, violin and veena (stringed instrument traditionally
associated with Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of the arts and learning).

T. Balaswaraswati
Padma Subhramanyam :First dancer to introduce Pushpanjli as a dance piece. Padma researched on karanas in
indian dance and sculpture and has designed the sculptures of the karanas of Lord Shiva with Parvati that are
kept in the Nataraja temple at Satara.She is the director of Nrityodaya ,a dance school.
Alarmel Valli :leading proponent of pandanallur tradition of bharatnatyam.Created international awareness
about the dance
Yamini Krishnamurthy
Mrinalini Sarabhai:attempted contemporary interpretations of mythological themes.
Anita Ratnam: wrote Natya Brahman,and served as the editor and publisher of Narthaki, a directory of indian
Dance. One of the main persons responsible for initiation of the the other festival held in Chennai every
December for promotion of contemporary Indian dance.
Mallika Sarabhai:

The dance is named after the place of its birth,kuchelapuram or kuseelavapuri in Andhra Pradesh.
Traditionally a male preserve ,it may be traced to the dance dramas enacted by the Brahmins in the
temples.under the impact of vaishnavism , the themes began to be based on the Bhagwat Purana.
Siddhendra yogi , in 14/15
century inspired the revival of the dance which had faded into obscurity. He
composed the bhama kalapam which has now become a integral part of the dance.
The vijayanagara and Golconda rulers patronized the dance and gave land grants to the gurus of the dance.
The followers of Siddhendra Yogi wrote several plays and the tradition of Kuchipudi dance-drama continues till
today. It was Lakshminarayan Shastry (1886-1956) who introduced many new elements including solo dancing
and training of female dancers in this dance style.
Solo dancing was there earlier, but only as a part of the dance drama at appropriate sequences. 'At times, even
though the dramatic situation did not demand, solo dancing was being presented to punctuate the presentation
and to enhance the appeal. One such number is tarangam inspired by the Krishna-leela tarangini of
Teerthanarayana Yogi.
To show the dexterity of the dancers in footwork and their control and balance over their bodies, techniques like
dancing on the rim of a brass plate and with a pitcher full of water on the head was introduced. Acrobatic
dancing became part of the repertoire. By the middle of this century, Kuchipudi fully crystallized as a separate
classical solo dance style. Thus there are now two forms of Kuchipudi; the traditional musical dance-drama and
the solo dance.
From the later part of the fourth decade of this century a sequence of the presentation of the solo recital has
been widely accepted. A recital of Kuchipudi begins with an invocatory number, as is done in some other
classical dance styles. Earlier the invocation was limited to Ganesha Vandana. Now other gods are also invoked.
It is followed by nritta, that is, non-narrative and abstract dancing. Usually jatiswaram is performed as
the nritta number.
Next is presented a narrative number called shabdam. One of the favourite traditional shabdam number is
the Dashaavataara.
The Shabdam is followed by a natyanumber called Kalaapam. Many Kuchipudi dancers prefer to perform entry
of Satyabhama from the traditional dance-drama Bhaamaakalaapam. The song "bhamane, satyabhamane, the
traditional praveshadaaru (the song that is rendered at the time of the entry of a character) is so tuneful that its
appeal is universal and ever fresh.
Next in the sequence comes a pure nrityaabhinaya number based on literary-cum musical forms
like padam, jaavli, shlokam, etc. In such a number each of the sung words is delineated in space through
dance, drishya-kavita (visual poetry). A Kuchipudi recital is usually concluded with tarangam. Excerpts
of Krishna-leela-tarangini are sung with this number. In this the dancer usually stands on a brass plate locking
the feet in shakatavadanam paada and moves the plate rhythmically with great dexterity.
The music that accompanies the dance is according to the classical school of Carnatic music and is delightfully
syncopatic. The accompanying musicians, besides the vocalist are: a mridangam player to provide percussion
music, a violin or veena player or both for providing instrumental melodic music, and a cymbal player who
usually conducts the orchestra and recites the sollukattus(mnemonic rhythm syllables).
Kuchipudi , however remained confined to the remote villages of Andhra Pradesh till the early 20
century when
Balasaraswathi and Esther Sherman (Ragini Devi) helped to bring it out of obscurity.
Indrani rehman played a pioneering role in popularizing the dance form.
The strictly male preserve was brought to the people by famous female dancers- Yamini Krishnamurthy ,
Swpanasundri and Shobha Naidu.
Vempati Chinaa Satyam established the Kuchipudi Arts Academy in Chennai.
Raja and Radha Reddy , the world renowned dancing duo have propagated the dance form all over the world
and established the academy , Natya Tarangini.
Chinta Krishnamurthy ,Vijaya Prasad ,Yamini Reddy are the famous names in the field of kuchipudi.

Odissi (or Orissi) is the traditional style of dance which originated in the temples of the state of Orissa in Eastern
India, where it was performed by the devadasis.
It presents the earliest evidence of dance in india.It is one of the oldest surviving forms of dance, with depictions
of Odissi dancing dating back as far as the 1st century BC. Like other forms of Indian classical dance, the Odissi
style traces its origins back to antiquity. Dancers are found depicted in bas-relief in the hills of Udaygiri (near
Bhubaneswar) and Khandagiri dating back to the 1st century BC. The Natya Shastra speaks of the dance from
this region and refers to it as Odra-Magadhi or Odra-nritya.

Over the centuries two schools of Odissi dance developed: Mahari, and Gotipua. The Mahari tradition is similar
to the devadasi tradition; these are women who are attached to deities in the temple.

The ascetic followers of vaishnavism ,disapproving of the immoralities of the devadasi system introduced the
Gotipuas. Gotipua is a style characteristed by the use of young boys dressed up in female clothing to perform
female roles which was a result of Vaishnava philosophy in Orissa in the 16th century.

Odissi dance was held in high esteem before the 17th century. Nobility were known for their patronage of the
arts, and it was not unheard of for royalty of both sexes to be accomplished dancers. However, after the 17th
century, the social position of dancers began to decline. Dancing girls were considered to be little more than
prostitutes, and the "Anti-Nautch" movement of the British brought Odissi dance to near extinction.

Before Independence, the position of Odissi dance was very bad. The tradition of dancing girls at the temple at
Puri was abolished. The royal patronage of court and temple dancers had been severely eroded by the
absorption of India under the crown. The only viable Odissi tradition was the Gotipua. This had weathered the
British Anti-Nautch movement simply because it was performed by males. Nevertheless, the Gotipua tradition
was in a very bad state.

Independence brought a major change in official attitudes toward Indian Dance. Like the other classical arts,
dance was seen as a way to define India's national identity. Governmental and non-governmental patronage
increased. The few remaining Odissi dancers were given employment, and a massive job of reconstructing the
Odissi dance began. This reconstruction involved combing through ancient texts, and more importantly, the
close examination of dance posses represented in bas-relief in the various temples.

There were a number of people who were responsible for the reconstruction and popularization of Odissi dance.
Most notable among them are Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Mayadhar Raut, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru
Mahadev Rout, Guru Raghu Dutta, and Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra.

Today Odissi dance is once again deemed a viable and "classical" dance.

Style:There are a number of characteristics of the Odissi dance. The style may be seen as a conglomeration of
aesthetic and technical details. Odissi is characterized by fluidity of the upper torso (the waves of the ocean on
the shores of Puri) and gracefulness in gestures and wristwork (swaying of the palms), juxtaposed with firm
footwork (heartbeat of Mother Earth). All classical Indian dance forms include both pure rhythmic dances and
acting or story dances. The rhythmic dances of Odissi are called batu/sthayi (foundation), pallavi (flowering), and
moksha (liberation). The acting dances are called abhinaya.
The performance of odissi usually consists of Mangalacharan;Batunrtiya(pure dance);Pallavi, in which song is
elaborated through graceful movements and facial expressions and intersped with pure dance and
poses;Tharijham, again pure nritta (like the thillana of bharatnatyam or Tarana of Kathak );and moksha , the
concluding item , which is the dance of liberation through joyous movements. The Trikhanda Majura is another
way of concluding , indicating a leave taking form the gods, the audience and the stage.

One of the most characteristic features of Odissi dance is the Tribhangi. The concept of Tribhangi divides the
body into three parts, head, bust, and torso. Any posture which deals with these three elements is called
Tribhangi. This concept has created the very characteristic poses which are more contorted than found in other
classical Indian dances.

The mudras are also important. The term mudra means "stamp" and is a hand position which signifies things.
The use of mudras help tell a story in a manner similar to the Hula dance form of Hawaii.

Themes:The themes of Odissi are almost exclusively religious in nature. They most commonly revolve around
Krishna. Although the worship of Krishna is found throughout India, there are local themes which are
emphasised. The Ashtapadi's of Jayadev are a very common theme. Although incorporating a range of emotions
and mythologies, the eternal union of Radha and Krishna (Gita Govinda) is central to the abhinaya in Odissi

Sculptures of Odissi dancers adorn many temple walls in Orissa.

Music:The musical accompaniment of Odissi dance is essentially the same as the music of Orissa itself. There are
various views on how the music of the Odissi relates to the music of greater North India. It is usually considered
just another flavour of Hindustani Sangeet, however there are some who feel that Odissi should be considered a
separate classical system.

There are a number of musical instruments used to accompany the Odissi dance. One of the most important is
the pakhawaj, also known as the madal. This is the same pakhawaj that is used elsewhere in the north except for
a few small changes. One difference is that the right head is a bit smaller than the usual north Indian pakhawaj.
This necessitates a technique which in many ways is more like that of the tabla, or mridangam. Other
instruments which are commonly used are the bansuri (bamboo flute), the manjira (metal cymbals), the sitar
and the tanpura.

There was a move to classify Odissi as a separate classical system. This movement is generally considered to
have failed for a number of reasons. The general view is that traditional Orissi singers and musicians have been
so influenced by Hindustani concepts that they are unable to present the music in its "original" form.

There is a peculiar irony to this movement. Had they succeeded in having Odissi music declared to be a separate
system, then it would be hard to justify calling it classical. It would fail to achieve any level, of ethnic
transcendence and would essentially be reduced to the level of a "traditional" art form.

The current form of Odissi is the product of a 20th century revival.
Famous Odissi dancers:
Pankaj charan Das : Achieved fame by choreographing dance numbers Shiva and Lakshmipriya with
Kelucharan Mohapatra.
Kelucharan Mohapatra: Most famous odissi dancer guru. He popularised the concept and modernization
of odissi dance culture.
Sanjukta Panigrahi
Sonal Mansingh : One of the finest odissi exponents ,she has danced to several of here choreographic
works and has been responsible for a large number of group productions.she has been awarded with
Padma bhushan and Padma vibhushan. She brings her own vision and creativity to indian mythological
stories as well as to comtemporary issues, with her subtle control and mastery over both form and
content. Her work has also veered towards issues concerning women , environment ,prison reforms and
re-interpretation of ancient myths.
Illena Citaristi: Italian by birth, taught by Kelucharan Mohapatra,she has performed in many indian
festivals in Holland ,France and Germany .she has written a book on the life of her guru. She has
received Padma Shri.
Nilanjana Banerjee: popularized the dance in west .

Born in temples of kerela, the main sources of kathakali (katha =story;kali=drama) were Kudiattam and
Krishnattam,folk drama traditions.
It is said that Raja Balaveera Kerelam created the Ramanattam as a rival to Manadevas Krishanatam .Gradually
the dance drama was expanded with episodes from Mahabharata and Shiva purana.The Ramanattam evolved
into kathakali.
Fostered In the temples, the dance drama was soon taken out to the popular stage , but with the breakdown of
the old feudal setup, it began to decline to lack of patronage.
Vallathol Narayana Menon, the great Malayalam poet , revived it and gave it institutional support ,helped by
Mukunda Raja. He also founded the Kalamandalam.
Kathakali is best suited to an open air stage against the lush green scenery of kerela.
It generally requires no props,as the dancers use their gestures and expressions to suggest the scene .the dance
calls for strenuous training and an elaborate makeup
Color is made to use indicate mental stages and character; e.g. green facial makeup indicates
nobility,divinity,virtue, while red patches beside the nose and blobs on the nose point to characters combining
royalty and evil and wicked females have black face make up.
The dance form makes remarkable use of eye movements and expressions.
An interesting item is the Thiranottam in which an aggressive fierce character ,standing close behind a curtain
held up by two boys , shakes and pulls at the curtain giving glimpses of his head gear , elaboratively made up
face and expressive eyes. The dance episode gives an epic grandeur even to the evil characters.
Kathakali draws its themes from the epics and the Puranas , and it presents the eternal conflict between good
and evil in a grand manner.
Famous Kathakali gurus and dancers:
Ragini Devi,Shanta Rao,Mrinalini Sarabhai,Kanak Rele and Rita Ganguly.
Famous Gurus are V.Kunju Nair , Krishnan Nair, Gopinathan and Karaunkaran Nair
Guru Kunchu Kurup was the firsr kathakali artist to get the national award.
Kavungal Chatmuni Panicker belonged to the Kavungal family of six generations of kathakali artists. He
emphasized the sense of rhythm and innovated a variety of kalasams or decorative movements.later he
joined the Darpana Academy and toured with Mrinalini Sarabhai.

Mohiniyattam, also spelled Mohiniattam (Malayalam: ), is a classical dance form from
Kerala, India. Believed to have originated in 16th century CE,[1] it is one of the eight Indian classical dance forms
recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. It is considered a very graceful form of dance meant to be performed
as solo recitals by women.
Mohiniyattam was popularised as a popular dance form in the nineteenth century by Swathi Thirunal, the
Maharaja of the state of Travancore (Southern Kerala), and Vadivelu, one of the Thanjavur Quartet. Swathi
Thirunal promoted the study of Mohiniyattam during his reign, and is credited with the composition of many
music arrangements and vocal accompaniments that provide musical background for modern Mohiniyattam
dancers. The noted Malayalam poet Vallathol, who established the Kerala Kalamandalam dance school in 1930,
played an important role in popularizing Mohiniattam in the 20th century.
The term Mohiniyattam comes from the words "Mohini" meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and
"aattam" meaning graceful and sensuous body movements. The word "Mohiniyattam" literally means "dance of
the enchantress". There are two stories of the Lord Vishnu disguised as a Mohini.
In one, he appears as Mohini to lure the asuras (demons) away from the amrita (nectar of immortality) obtained
during the churning of the palazhi (ocean of milk and salt water).
In the second story Vishnu appears as Mohini to save Lord Shiva from the demon Bhasmasura. The name
Mohiniyattam may have been coined after Lord Vishnu; the main theme of the dance is love and devotion to
God, with usually Vishnu or Krishna being the hero. Devadasis used to perform this in temples. It also has
elements of Koothu and Kottiyattom. Mohiniyattam is a drama in dance and verse.
The dance involves the swaying of broad hips and the gentle movements of erect posture from side to side. This
is reminiscent of the swinging of the palm leaves and the gently flowing rivers which abound Kerala, the land of
Mohiniyattam. There are approximately 40 basic movements, known as atavukal.
The three pillars Sri Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, Sri Vallathol Narayana Menon (a poet and founder of the
institution, Kerala Kalamandalam) and Smt. Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma (considered the mother of
Mohiniyattam) contributed to the shaping out of the contemporary Mohiniyattam during the later part of
the 20th century. Guru Kallyanikutty Amma cleared the mythical mystery behind the name of this dance form
and gave it the most convincing explanation based on truth, social and historical evolution, interpreting
Mohiniyattam as the dance of a beautiful lady than that of a mythical enchantress from heaven.
The costume includes white sari embroidered with bright golden brocade (known as kasavu) at the edges. The
dance follows the classical text of Hastha Lakshanadeepika, which has elaborate description of mudras
(gestural expressions by the hand palm and fingers).
The Jewellery our traditional dancers wear is the typical complete set of Temple Golden Finish Jewellery with a
proper wide Golden Lakshmi belt specially designed for Mohiniyattam. The foot steps are made tinkling with a
good pair of original Chilanka or either known as Ghungroo or Dancing bells worn by the dancer on her legs.
The performer also adorns herself with Fresh white Jasmine flowers which is decked to her hair bun arranged
on the left side of the head pinned on to a beautiful Jurapin, which makes Mohiniyattam artists distinct from
other dance forms artists of India.
The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics are in
Manipravalam, a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam. The Mohiniyattam dance is performed to this
accompaniment by the subtle gestures and footwork of the danseuse. The performer uses the eyes in a very
coy, sensual manner to enchant the mind without enticing the senses.
Among the various vrithi-s (styles) detailed by Bharata Muni in his Natya Shastra, Mohiniyattam most resembles
the kaisiki(graceful)type.Consisting, as it does, of gentle Angahara-s and belonging to the Lasya style which is
feminine, tender and graceful: The kaisiki style is most appropriate for the erotic sentiment and its related
It has often been said that the movements of the limbs and body of the danseuse of Mohiniyattam should be
gentle and graceful like the waves in a calm sea or the swaying of the paddy plants in the field, in a breeze.
Like many other Indian dance forms the aspects of Mohiniyattam can be divided mainly into two - Nritha (pure
dance ) and Nrithya (expository dance). When a child starts learning Mohiniyattam she /he starts first with the
Nritha (pure dance).
Nritha Mandalam-s (stances), Pada bheda-s (foot variations), Padachari-s(gaits) and Nritha hasta-s(gestures) are
the main parts of the pure dance patterns. Beautiful combinations of all these above mentioned are called
Atavu-s. There are about 55 to 60 Atavu-s in the training pattern followed at Natanakaisiki belonging to the two
major styles of Kerala, the Kalamandalam style and Guru Kalyanikuttyammas style.
Mandalams Basic posture of the feet is considered as one of the most important aspects of many of the dance
forms.In Mohiniyattam the basic posture is known as Aramandalam. In Thiruvathirakali (a groupe dance form of
Kerala women which is very closely related to Mohiniyattam)this is known as vattakkalil thanu nilkuka (means
bend your leg and stand.). Most of the Atavus the basic dance units begin from this basic position. Even
though Aramandalam is the most important one, based upon the level of the knees there are five such stances
in Mohiniyattam.These are the Sama mandalam,Aramandalam, Muzhumandalam,Mukkalmandalam and
Chari-s (gaits)In Mohiniyattam there are five different usages of Pada chari-s. They are Hamsa (swan)Padam,
Kukkuda(hen)Padam, Mayoora (peacock)Padam, Mandooka (frog)Padam, and Naga (snake)bandham.
Atavus (basic dance units) Atavus are the basic units, which are sub-divisions of the pure dance in
Mohiniyattam.These are created combining hand gestures, body movements, mandalam-s, footwork, and
When Mohiniyattam is taught, to ensure that the people develops graceful body control, it is these Atavu-s, that
are practiced in the first few years of training.
Unlike in Bharathanatyam, in Mohiniyattam when these Adavus are choreographed with beautiful patterns
and rhythm to create beauty or to support the bhava(mood) the Vaythari-s (syllables )are always used in a raga.
Nritha choreographies In Mohiniyattam, items like Cholkettu, Jathiswarom and Thillana give greater prominence
for Nritha. Cholkettu consists of stylised rhythmic syllables in tune with raga and the danse use with pure dance
patterns dances appropriate to it. Jathiswaram is an assemblage of jathi-s (syllables)and swara-s (musical notes )
within the frame work of a raga and tala. Beautiful sculpturesque postures and atavus are combined with
intricate rhythm and designed to highlight the grace of this dance style. Tillana-s have a lot of rhythmic
Vaythari-s and these have been beautifully choreographed with Nritha in Mohiniyattam.
Other famous mohiniattam dancers:
Sunanda Nair, Jayaprabha Menon,Pallavi Krishnan(she founded the lasya academy of mohiniattam in
thrissur ,kerela)
Gopika Verma ,shanta rao,Vyjanthimala,Hema Malini,Roshan Vajifdar,Bharati Shivaji, Kanak rele
Viajayalakshmi co authored a book along with guru bharati shivaji entitled Mohiniyattam.

Manipuri dance is one of the major Indian classical dance forms . It originates from Manipur , a state in north-
eastern India on the border with Burma . In Manipur, surrounded by mountains and geographically isolated at
the meeting point of the orient and mainland India, the form developed its own specific aesthetics, values,
conventions and ethics.
The cult of Radha and Krishna , particularly the raslila , is central to its themes but the dances, unusually,
incorporate the characteristic symbols (kartal or manjira ) and double-headed drum (pung or Manipuri
mrdanga ) of sankirtan into the visual performance.
Manipuri dance is purely religious and its aim is a spiritual experience. Development of music and dance has
through religious festivals and daily activities of the Manipuri people. According to the legend, the indigenous
people of the Manipur valley were the dance-expert Gandharvas mentioned in the Hindu epics like Ramayana
and Mahabharata. Not only is dance a medium of worship and enjoyment, a door to the divine, but
indispensable for all socio-cultural ceremonies. From the religious point of view and from the artistic angle of
vision, Manipuri classical form of dance is claimed not only to be one of the most chastest, modest, softest and
mildest but the most meaningful dances of the world.
The most obliging aspect of Manipuri culture is that, it has retained the ancient ritual based dances and folk
dances along with the later developed classical Manipuri dance style. Among the classical categories, 'Ras Leela'
- a highly evolved dance drama, choreographed on 'Vaishnavite Padavalis' composed by mainly eminent Bengali
poets and some Manipuri Gurus, is the highest expression of artistic genius, devotion and excellence of the
Manipuri dancers do not wear ankle bells to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet, in contrast with other
Indian dance forms, and the dancers' feet never strike the ground hard. Movements of the body and feet and
facial expressions in Manipuri dance are subtle and aim at devotion and grace.
A copper plate inscription credits King Khuoyi Tompok (c. 2nd century CE) with introducing drums and cymbals
into Manipuri dance.
However, it is unlikely that the style resembled the form known today before the introduction of Krishna bhakti
in the 15th century CCE. Maharaja Bhagyachandra (r. 17591798 CE) codified the style, composed three of the
five types of Ras Lilas , the Maha Ras, the Basanta Ras and the Kunja Ras, performed at the Sri Sri Govindaji
temple in Imphal during his reign and also the Achouba Bhangi Pareng dance. He designed an elaborate costume
known as Kumil. The Govindasangeet Lila Vilasa, an important text detailing the fundamentals of the dance, is
also attributed to him.
Maharaja Gambhir Singh (r. 18251834 CE) composed two parengs of the tandava type, the Goshtha Bhangi
Pareng and the Goshtha Vrindaban Pareng.
Maharaja Chandra Kirti Singh (r. 18491886 CE), a gifted drummer, composed at least 64 Pung choloms (drum
dances) and two parengs of the Lasya type, the Vrindaban Bhangi Pareng and Khrumba Bhangi Pareng. The
composition of the Nitya Ras is also attributed to him.
This genre of dance became better known outside the region through the efforts of Rabindranath Tagore . In
1919, he was so impressed after seeing a dance composition, the Goshtha Lila in Sylhet (in present day
Bangladesh ) that he invited Guru Budhimantra Singh to Shantiniketan . In 1926, Guru Naba Kumar joined the
faculty to teach the Ras Lila. Other celebrated Gurus, Senarik Singh Rajkumar, Nileshwar Mukherji and Atomba
Singh were also invited to teach there and assisted Tagore with the choreography of several of his dance-
Guru Naba Kumar went to Ahmedabad to teach Manipuri dance in 1928. Soon, Guru Bipin Singh popularised it in
Mumbai. Amongst his pupils, most well known are the Jhaveri sisters, Nayana, Suverna, Darshana and Ranjana.
The traditional Manipuri dance style embodies delicate, lyrical and graceful movements. The aim is to make
rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It is this which gives Manipuri dance its
undulating and soft appearance.
The foot movements are viewed as part of a composite movement of the whole body. The dancer puts his or her
feet down, even during vigorous steps, with the balls of the feet touching the ground first. The ankle and knee
joints are effectively used as shock absorbers. The dancers feet are neither put down nor lifted up at the precise
rhythmic points of the music but rather slightly earlier or later to express the same rhythmic points most
The musical accompaniment for Manipuri dance comes from a percussion instrument called the Pung , a singer,
small cymbals , a stringed instrument called the pena and wind instrument such as a flute . The drummers are
always male artistes and, after learning to play the pung, students are trained to dance with it while drumming.
This dance is known as Pung cholom .
The lyrics used in Manipuri are usually from the classical poetry of Jayadeva , Vidyapati , Chandidas , Govindadas
or Gyandas and may be in Sanskrit , Maithili , Brij Bhasha or others.
Notable personalities of Manipuri dance apart from those mentioned above: Poushali chatterjee(opened her
dance academy :Nandanik Manipuri Dance Academy) , Sohini Ray and Rajkumar Singhajit Singh who was
awarded Padma Shri and opened Manipuri Nrityashram in New Delhi.

Kathak (Hindi: , Urdu: ) is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance. This dance form traces its
origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. Its form today
contains traces of temple and ritual dances, and the influence of the bhakti movement. From the 16th century
onwards it absorbed certain features of Persian dance and central Asian dance which were imported by the
royal courts of the Mughal era.
The name Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story, and katthaka in Sanskrit means he who
tells a story, or to do with stories.
There are three major schools or gharana of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage:
the gharanas of Jaipur, Lucknow and Varanasi (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of
Oudh, and Varanasi respectively); there is also a less prominent (and later) Raigarh gharana which amalgamated
technique from all three preceding gharanas but became famous for its own distinctive compositions.
Pure Dance (Nritta): structure of a conventional Kathak performance tends to follow a progression in tempo
from slow to fast, ending with a dramatic climax. A short dance composition is known as a tukra, a longer one as
a toda. There are also compositions consisting solely of footwork. Often the performer will engage in rhythmic
play with the time-cycle, for example splitting it into triplets or quintuplets which will be marked out on the
footwork, so that it is in counterpoint to the rhythm on the percussion.
All compositions are performed so that the final step and beat of the composition lands on the 'sam'
(pronounced as the English word 'sum' and meaning even or equal, archaically meaning nil) or first beat of the
time-cycle. Most compositions also have 'bols' (rhythmic words) which serve both as mnemonics to the
composition and whose recitation also forms an integral part of the performance. This recitation is known as
padhant. Some compositions are aurally very interesting when presented this way.
Often tukras are composed to highlight specific aspects of the dance, for example gait, or use of corners and
diagonals, and so on. A popular tukra type is the chakkarwala tukra, showcasing the signature spins of Kathak.
Because they are generally executed on the heel, these differ from ballet's pirouettes (which are properly
executed on the toe or ball of the foot). The spins usually manifest themselves at the end of the tukra, often in
large numbers: five, nine, fifteen, or more, sequential spins are common. These tukras are popular with
audiences because they are visually exciting and are executed at great speed.
Other compositions can be further particularised as follows:
1.Vandana, the dancer begins with an invocation to the gods.
2.Thaat, the first composition of a traditional performance; the dancer performs short plays with the time-cycle,
finishing on sam in a statuesque standing (thaat) pose.
3.Aamad, from the Persian word meaning 'entry'; the first introduction of spoken rhythmic pattern or bol into the
4.Salaami, related to Ar. 'salaam' - a salutation to the audience in the Muslim style.
5.Kavitt, a poem set on a time-cycle; the dancer will perform movements that echo the meaning of the poem.
6.Paran, a composition using bols from the pakhawaj instead of only dance or tabla bols.
7.Parmelu or Primalu, a composition using bols reminiscent of sounds from nature, such as kukuthere (birds), jhijhikita
(sound of ghunghru), tigdadigdig (strut of peacock) etc.
8.Gat, from the word for 'gait' (walk) showing abstract visually beautiful gaits or scenes from daily life.
9.Lari, a footwork composition consisting of variations on a theme, and ending in a Tihai.
10.Tihai, usually a footwork composition consisting of a long set of bols repeated thrice so that the very last bol ends
dramatically on 'sam'.
Expressive Dance (Nritya):Aside from the traditional expressive or abhinaya pieces performed to a bhajan,
ghazal or thumri, Kathak also possesses a particular performance style of expressional pieces called bhaav
bataanaa (lit. 'to show bhaav or 'feeling'). It is a mode where abhinaya dominates, and arose in the Mughal
court. It is more suited to the mehfil or the darbaar environment, because of the proximity of the performer to
the audience, who can more easily see the nuances of the dancer's facial expression. Consequently, it translates
to the modern proscenium stage with difficulty. A thumri is sung, and once the mood is set, a line from the
thumri is interpreted with facial abhinaya and hand movements while seated. This continues for an indefinite
period, limited only by the dancer's interpretative abilities. For example, Shambhu Maharaj is claimed to have
interpreted a single line in many different ways for hours. All the Maharaj family (Acchan Maharaj, Lachhu
Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj and Achhan Maharaj's son Birju Maharaj) have found much fame for the

naturalness and innovativeness of their abhinaya.
During the era of fervent worship of Radha-Krishna, Kathak was used to narrate tales from the lives of these
figures. Popular performances included Sri Krishnas exploits in the holy land of Vrindavan, and tales of Krishna-
Leela (Krishnas childhood). It was in this time, the dance moved away from the spirituality of the temple and
began to be influenced by folk elements.
It was when the dance reached the Mughal court after the 16th century that Kathak began to acquire its
distinctive shape and features. Here it encountered other different forms of dance and music, most especially
dancers from Persia. Dancers were enticed from the temples to the courts by gifts of gold, jewels and royal
favour. Patronage soared as a social class of dancers and courtiers emerged in the royal palaces, where dance
competitions were held frequently. The environment of the North Indian Mughal courts caused a shift in focus
for Kathak, from a purely religious art form to court entertainment. Dancers imported from the Central Asia
spread their ideas to Kathak dancers, as they borrowed ideas from Kathak to implement in their own dance.
Kathak absorbed the new input, adapting it until it became an integral part of its own vocabulary.
Kathak began to shift away from other traditional Indian dances, such as Bharatanatyam. The demi-pli stance
of most other Indian dance forms gave way to straight legs taken from the Persian dancers.
To emphasize the flamboyant and elaborate rhythmic footwork as many as 150 ankle bells on each leg were
worn. It was also during this period that the signature 'chakkars' (spins) of Kathak were introduced, possibly
influenced by the so-called whirling dervishes.
The straight-legged position gave a new vitality to the footwork, which wove percussive rhythms in its own right,
whether together with or in complement to the tabla or pakhawaj.
By this stage, the varied influences had introduced great flexibility into Kathak in terms of presentation and
narrative dance. As it moved away from the temple through folk dances to the court, it gathered many
accretions of the themes on which the narrative dance could treat, resulting in a broader catchment of material
for abhinaya pieces, and a less stylised and slightly informal presentation style which often incorporated
improvisation and suggestions from the courtly audience.
The fusion of cultures developed Kathak in a singular manner, but although it was by now substantially different
from the other Indian dance forms, the roots of the style remained the same, and as such it still displays a
consanguineity with the others, particularly in the hand-formations during story-telling, and some of the body-
postures, for example the tribhangi position, which is common to most Indian dance forms.
Many emperors and princely rulers contributed to the growth and development of Kathak into different
gharanas, or schools of dance, named after the cities in which they developed. The Nawab of Oudh, Wajid Ali
Shah, not only enjoyed giving patronage to dancers, but danced himself, taught by Durga Prasad. He himself
choreographed a dance, Rahas, that he danced himself with the ladies of his court. He brought teachers to his
palaces, aiding the expansion of technical vocabulary, and forming the basis of the Lucknow gharana,
emphasizing sensuous, expressive emotion. The Lucknow gharana placed emphasis on the abhinaya and natya
elements or expressional qualities of the dancing; it was famed for its subtlety and grace (nazakat).
This contrasted sharply with the Jaipur gharana, which became renowned for highly intricate and complex
footwork, and fast, sharp, and accurate dancing. Royal courts in Rajasthan enjoyed Kathak as a sophisticated art
form, fostering the growth of the Jaipur gharana. The Benares gharana was also created in this time.
The advent of British Rule in India sent Kathak into sharp decline. The Victorian administrators publicly
pronounced it a base and unlovely form of entertainment, despite often privately enjoying the pleasures of the
tawaif. Indeed, by associating Kathak solely with the tawaifs and then associating the tawaifs with out-and-out
prostitution, Kathak acquired an unwholesome image: the entirely British concept of nautch. Kathak was, to
Victorian eyes, an entertainment designed solely for the purposes of seduction.
During these times of cultural hardship, the role of the tawaifs in preserving the art forms should not be
underestimated. Famous tawaifs such as Gauhar Jan were instrumental in the maintenance and continuation of
Kathak, even as it was officially denigrated by the prevailing political opinion.
Kathak first received world's attention in the early 20th century through Kalka Prasad Maharaj, whose sons
Acchan, Lacchhu and Shambhu Maharaj, went on carry forward the tradition for the next generation, both as
dancers in their own right and later as dance gurus.
Kathak's current form is a synthesis of all the input it has had in the past: court and romantic aspects sit
comfortably side-by-side with the temple and mythological/religious. Different dancers have worked on the
form in different ways.
The work of the Maharaj family of dancers (Acchan Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj, Lachhu Maharaj and one of the
great current dancers still alive today, Birju Maharaj) has been very successful in spreading the popularity of
. Another disciple of Acchan Maharaj is Sitara Devi, daughter of Sukhdev Maharaj of Banaras. Her lively, zestful
and fiery performances have impressed many audiences. Shambhu Maharaj also trained Smt.
Kumudini Lakhia, who, along with Birju Maharaj, has introduced the relative innovation of multi-person
choreographies in Kathak, which was traditionally a solo dance form. She has gained a strong reputation for
combining purely classical movements and style with distinctly contemporary use of space.
The late Rohini Bhate greatly enriched Kathak's rhythmic repertoire by creating a large corpus of dance
compositions, while Durga Lal of the Jaipur gharana was famed for his speed and easy style of performance.
Because of the linear nature of the passing of knowledge from guru to shishya, certain stylistic and technical
features began to fossilise and became hallmarks of a particular school, guru or group of teachers. The different
styles are known as gharanas, and these are:
Lucknow Gharana:The Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance came into existence mainly in the court of Nawab
Wajid Ali Shah the ruler of Awadh in the early 19th century. It was in this period that the Lucknow Gharana of
Kathak attained maturity, through the efforts of Thakur Prasad Maharaj, the court dancer and guru of Nawab
Wajid Ali Shah and subsequently by his sons Bindadin Maharaj and Kalka Prasad Maharaj. Kalka Prasad's sons
Achchan Maharaj, Lachu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also contributed to the further development of this
gharana style.
The Lucknow style or Kathak dance is characterized by graceful movements, elegance and natural poise with
dance. Abhinaya, concern for movement shape and creative improvisions are the hallmarks of this style.
Presently, Birju Maharaj is considered the chief representative of this gharana.
Jaipur Gharana:The Jaipur Gharana developed in the courts of the Kachchwaha kings of Jaipur in Rajasthan.
Importance is placed on the more technical aspects of dance, such as complex and powerful footwork, multiple
spins, and complicated compositions in different talas. There is also a greater incorporation of compositions
from the pakhawaj, such as parans. The Jaipur gharana has many more branches and off-shoots than the
Lucknow style and requires a detailed tree diagram to show these. However, in the last century, the work of the
Jaipur gharana dancers Jai Lal, Sunder Prasad and Narayan Prasad, Kundanlal Gangani and Sunderlal Gangani
and Durga Lal was instrumental in developing the gharana. Presently the prominent artist of this gharana is
sangeet natak academy awardee Rajendra Gangani son of Kundanlal Gangani, sangeet natak academy awardee
Gitanjali Lal wife of Renowned kathak dancer Devi Lal & celebrity kathak dancer Pratishtha Sharma desciple of
Rajendra Gangani.
Benares Gharana:The Benares Gharana was developed by Janakiprasad. It is characterized by the exclusive use
of the natwari or dance bols, which are different from the tabla and the pakhawaj bols. There are differences in
the thaat and tatkaar, and chakkars are kept at a minimum but are often taken from both the right and the left-
hand sides with equal confidence. There is also a greater use of the floor, for example, in the taking of sam.

Raigarh Gharana:This was established by the Maharaja Chakradhar Singh in the princely state of Raigarh in
present Chhatisgarh in the early 20th century. The Maharaja invited many luminaries of Kathak (as well as
famous percussionists) to his court, including Kalka Prasad and his sons, and Pandit Jailal from Jaipur gharana.
The confluence of different styles and artists created a unique environment for the development of new Kathak
and tabla compositions drawn from various backgrounds. Some of renowned dancers of this gharana are Late
Pt. Kartik Ram, Late Pt. Phirtu Maharaj, Late Pt. Kalyaandas Mahant, Late Pt. Barmanlak, Pt. Ramlal, Yasmin
Singh, V. Anuradha Singh, Alpana Vajpeyi, Suchitra Harmalkar, Monica Pandey Bohre, Mohini Moghe,
Bhagwaandas Manik, Bhupendra Bareth, Vaasanti Vaishnav, Annapurna Sharma, etc.

the costume is a lehenga-choli combination, with an optional odhni or veil. The lehenga is loose ankle-length
skirt, and the choli is a tight fitting blouse, usually short-sleeved. Both can be highly ornately embroidered or
decorated. The lehenga is sometimes adapted to a special dance variety, similar to a long ghaghra, so that
during spins, the skirt flares out dramatically.
Mughal costume for women consists of an angarkha (from the Sanskrit anga-rakshaka 'limb-keeper') on the
upper body. The design is akin to a chudidaar kameez, but is somewhat tighter fitting above the waist, and the
'skirt' portion explicitly cut on the round to enhance the flare of the lower half during spins. The skirt may also
be cut on the round but beginning just below the bust; this style is known as 'Anarkali' after the eponymous
dancer who popularised it. Beneath the top, the legs are covered by the chudidaar or figure hugging trousers
folded up giving the look of cloth bangles. Optional accessories are a small peaked cap and a bandi or small
waistcoat to enhance the bust-line. A belt made of zari or precious stones is sometimes also worn on the waist.
The traditional costume for men is to be bare-chested. Below the waist is the dhoti, usually tied in the Bengal
style, that is with many pleats and a fan finish to one of the ends (although it is not unknown for dancers to tie
the garment more simply). There is the option of wearing a men's bandi too.
The Mughal costume is kurta-churidar. The kurta can be a simple one, or again, adapted for dance to
incorporate wider flare, but is usually at least knee-length. Men may also wear an angarkha Particularly older
variety costumes include the small peaked cap too.
Chhau dance is a genre of Indian tribal martial dance which is popular in the Indian states of Odisha ,
Jharkhand and West Bengal . There are three subgenres of the dance, based on its places of origin and
development, Seraikella Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Purulia Chhau.
It is believed by some modern scholars that the word Chhau is derived from Sanskrit Chya (shadow, image or
mask), but according to Sitakant Mahapatra , it is derived from Chhauni (military camp).
The Chhau dance is mainly performed during regional festivals, especially the spring festival of Chaitra Parva
which lasts for thirteen days and in which the whole community participates.
The Chhau blends within it forms of both dance and martial practices employing mock combat techniques
(called khel), stylized gaits of birds and animals (called chalis and topkas) and movements based on the chores of
village housewives (called uflis).
The dance is performed by male dancers from families of traditional artists or from local communities and is
performed at night in an open space, called akhada or asar, to traditional and folk music, played on the reed
pipes mohuri and shehnai . A variety of drums accompany the music ensemble including the dhol (a cylindrical
drum), dhumsa (a large kettle drum) and kharka or chad-chadi. The themes for these dances include local
legends, folklore and episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and other abstract themes.
A very popular item in Seraikela is Chandrabhaga based on a legend of the moon princess who plunges into the
sea to escape from the sun god.Peacock dance ,Ocean dance and spring Dance draw on nature for their theme.
Masks form an integral part of Chhau Dance in Purulia and Seraikella where the craft of mask-making is
undertaken by communities of traditional painters known as Maharanas, Mohapatras and Sutradhars. The
knowledge of dance, music and mask-making is transmitted orally.
The Seraikella Chhau developed in Seraikela , the present day administrative headquarters of the Seraikela
Kharsawan district of Jharkhand, the Purulia Chau in Purulia district of West Bengal and the Mayurbhanj Chhau
in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha . The most prominent difference among the three subgenres is regarding the
use of masks. While, the Seraikela and Purulia subgenres of Chhau use masks, the Mayurbhanj Chhau uses none.
The Seraikella Chhau's technique and repertoire were developed by the erstwhile nobility of this region who
were both its performers and choreographers. The Mayurbhanj Chhau is performed without masks and is
technically similar to the Seraikella Chhau. The Purulia Chhau too uses masks and it exhibits the spontaneity of
folk art. This is because unlike the Seraikella and Mayurbhanj Chhau, which enjoyed royal patronage, the Purulia
Chhau was sustained and developed by the people themselves.
Raja Bijay Pratap Singh was instrumental in giving chchau the form of a classical dance.
Seraikella Chhau uses masks that employ elaborate headgear decorated with artificial pearls , beads and zari
work. Masks in this form of the dance are of three main types representing human characters - both mundane
and depicting characters from Hindu mythology , masks that represent animals and birds and objects thought of
as having human faces and masks that represent ideas and seasons. This last category includes masks
representing marumaya (mirage), basanta (spring season) and ratri (night).
Purulia Chhau uses masks that are less elaborate and they represent characters from Hindu mythology. These
masks are crafted by potters who make clay images of Hindu gods and goddesses and is primarily sourced from
Chorda, a village in the Purulia district of West Bengal.
In 2010 the Chhau dance was inscribed in the UNESCO 's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
of Humanity .
The Government of Odisha established a Government Chhau Dance Centre in 1960 in Seraikella and the
Mayurbhanj Chhau Nritya Pratisthan at Baripada in 1962 since the abolition of princely states made it difficult
for the local communities to sustain these traditions. These institutions engage in training involving local gurus,
artists, patrons and representatives of Chhau institutions and sponsor performances. The Chaitra Parva festival,
significant to the Chhau Dance, is also funded by the state government. It is the best form of mask dance. For
safeguarding Chhau Dance the Sangeet Natak Akademi has taken up specific measures including grants to
cultural institutions the establishment of a National Centre for Chhau Dance at Baripada , Odisha.
The Hindi film Barfi! has several scenes that features the Purulia Chhau in it.


Tappeta Gullu: Popular in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram Districts, this is a devotional dance which
invokes the Rain God with its vigour, rhythm and tempo . Also performed during festivals, the dance
sees 15 to 20 vibrant artists with drums around their necks creating mesmerising beats and
heartstopping acrobatics.

Butta Bommalu: A typical folk dance form, popular in Tanuku of West Godavari District of Andhra
Pradesh, Butta Bommalu which literally means basket toys are made of woodhusk, dry grass and cow
dung . Each dancer wears a different mask over the head and shoulders enlarging the scope of the
performer and dances to a nonverbal rhythm which adds colour to the movements.