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In Hindu mythology, dance is believed to have been conceived by Brahma.

Brahma inspired the sage Bharata Muni to write the NatyaShastra, a treatise on performing arts, from which a codified practice of dance and drama emerged. He used pathya (words) from the Rigveda, abhinaya (gestures) from the Yajurveda, geet (music) from the Samaveda and rasa (emotions) from the Atharvaveda to form the Natyaveda (body of knowledge about dance). Indian dances can be divided into classical and folk dances Indian folk and tribal dances are simple expressions of joy. They are usually performed to celebrate the change of seasons , at harvest time or at ceremonial occasions .

Classical dance

Classical dance in India has developed a type of dance-drama that is a form of a total theater. The dancer acts out a story almost exclusively through gestures. Most of the classical dances enact stories from Hindu mythology. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people. Classical dances in India are usually spiritual and religious in content. The criteria for being considered as classical is the style's adherence to the guidelines laid down in Natyashastra, which explains the Indian art of acting. Classical dance is distinguished from folk dance because it has been regulated by the rules of the Natyashastra and all classical dances are performed only in accordance with them. The Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight Indian classical dance styles: Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu), Kathak (North India), Kathakali (Kerala), Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh), Manipuri (Manipur), Mohiniyattam (Kerala), Odissi (Odisha), and Sattriya (Assam).

Dating back to 1000 BCE, Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, practiced predominantly in modern times by women. The dance is usually accompanied by classical Carnatic music. It is essentially a highly stylized feminine dance. Its origin lay in the devadasi system of south india temples. It originated out of the fusion of three eminent cultures of south india tamil, telugu and kannada. Its present form evolved from Tanjore in the 19th century by four brothers known as the Thanjavur Quartet whose musical compositions for dance form the bulk of the Bharatanatya repertoire even today and is most popular in todays tamil nadu. Its famous exponents include Rukminni devi arundale, Sonal mansingh, leela Samson, yamini Krishnamurthy, Shanta rao, T.Balasaraswati

It originated from Thayyam, a ritual tribal dance from north kerala and kalaripayattu. is a highly stylized classical dance-drama . This classical dance form is particularly noticed for dancer's elaborate costume, towering head gear, billowing skirts, and long silver nails. Uses colourful facial makeup where green indicates good, black denotes demon and red denotes evil. The common themes are the Ramayana, Mahabharatha and other mythologies. It is most refined , most scientific and elaborately defined dance and is known as ballet of east. Its exponents include Vallathol narayan Menon, Kalamandalam murali, Kalamandalam gopi, Govindan Kutty, Shantha rao. Mohiniattam 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". Believed to have originated in 16th century CE. It is considered a very graceful form of dance meant to be performed as solo recitals by women. Mohiniyattam was popularized 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 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. 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. 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. Kuchipudi Kuchipudi is the name of a village in with resident Brahmins practicing this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name. In ancient times it was essentially a dance drame but developed as a separate style from Bhakthi movement onwards depicting Krishnas life by dance and drama. The performance usually begins with some stage rites, after which each of the character comes on to the stage and introduces him/herself with a dharavu (a small composition of both song and dance) to introduce the identity, set the mood, of the character in the drama. The drama then begins. The dance is accompanied by song which is typically Carnatic music. it shares many common elements with Bharatanatyam. Its exponents include Lakshmi narayana Shastri, Vempati Satyanarayan, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Swapna sundari, Radha and raja reddy, G.Sarala kumara. Odissi It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. It has its origin in devadasi system. The jain king Kheravala patronized it. It is particularly distinguished from other classical Indian dance forms by the importance it places upon the Tribhangi (literally: three parts break), the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis. The Odissi tradition existed in three schools: Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua. Early Maharis performed mainly Nritta (pure dance) and Abhinaya (interpretation of poetry) based on Mantras and Slokas. Later, Maharis especially performed dance sequences based on the lyrics of Jayadev's Gita Govinda. By the 6th century, the Gotipua tradition was emerging. One of the reasons given for the emergence of Gotipuas is that Vaishnavas did not approve of dancing by women. Gotipuas were boys dressed up as girls and taught the dance by the Maharis. Nartaki dance took place in the royal courts, where it was much cultivated before the British period. At that time the misuse of devadasis came under strong attack, so that Odissi dance withered in the temples and became unfashionable at court. Only the remnants of the Gotipua school remained. Kelucharan Mohapatra, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Deba Prasad Das and Guru Raghunath Dutta were the four major gurus who revived Odissi in the late forties and early fifties. Its other exponents include Indrani rehman, Sonal mansingh, Mahadevi mudgal. Kathak 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. There are three major schools or gharanas of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage: the gharanas of Jaipur, Lucknow and Benares ); 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. Theme- secular under muslims but religious under hindus. Rythemic footwork is the most important part of this dance. Both men and women take part in it. Music to Kathak is normally provided bytabla and sitar players Its exponents are Sitara devi, Birju maharaj, Sambhu maharaj, Durga das, Gitanjali lal, Shobana narayan.

Manipuri Its origin lay in the Bhakthi movement of 14 and 15th centurie. Its theme is Radha- Krishna romance and love tales from meithi legends. 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. The lyrics used in Manipuri are usually from the classical poetry of Jayadeva,Vidyapati, Chandi das, Govindadas or Gyandas and may be in Sanskrit, Maithili, Brij Bhasha or others. It is performed by both men and women. Expoenets- Javeri sisters, Rita devi, Tandon devi, Savita Mehta Sattriya (Assam) The Sattriya dance form was introduced in the 15th century A.D by the great Vaishnava saint and reformer of Assam, Mahapurusha Sankaradeva as a powerful medium for propagation of the Vaishnava faith. The dance form evolved and expanded as a distinctive style of dance later on.Sattriya, or Sattriya Nritya (Assameseis one among eight principal classical Indian dance traditions. Where as some of the other traditions have been revived in the recent past, Sattriya has remained a living tradition since its creation by the founder of Vaishnavism in Assam , the great saint Srimanta Sankardeva, in 15th century Assam. Sankardeva created Sattriya Nritya as an accompaniment to the Ankia Naat (a form of Assamese one-act plays devised by him), which were usually performed in the sattras, as Assam's monasteries are called. As the tradition developed and grew within the sattras, the dance form came to be called Sattriya Nritya. The core of Sattriya Nritya has usually been mythological stories. Traditionally, Sattriya was performed only by bhokots (male monks) in monasteries as a part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals. Today, in addition to this practice, Sattriya is also performed on stage by men and women who are not members of the sattras, on themes not merely mythological. Like the other seven schools of classical Indian dance, Sattriya Nritya encompasses the principles required of a classical dance form: the treatises of dance and dramaturgy, like Natyashastra, Abhinaya Darpana, and Sangit Ratnakara; a distinct repertoire (marg) and the aspects of nritta (pure dance), nritya(expressive dance), and natya (abhinaya). Sattriya Nritya is accompanied by musical compositions called borgeets (composed by Sankardeva among others) which are based on classical ragas. The instruments that accompany a traditional performance are khols (drums), taals (cymbals) and the flute. Folk dance folk dances into two categories: folk and tribal. The difference between the two is cultural. Folk dances are the rural extensions of the larger Indian population. Examples are the Bhangra and the Garba. However, the tribal dances are performed by India's aboriginal populations. These people, known as adivasi, have a culture which is very distinct from the larger Indian population. A common example of a tribal dance is the Santhali J&K Damali temple dance by men Rou dance by women in autumn and during month of ramzan. Songs from folk literature Hikit Dance of maidens. There are special songs for this Devil dance ladakh performed by Lhapas and manipas Kud when sowing operations of hilly areas is done and people are at leisure Dandi nach performed by youngsters round an artistic peacock structure of bamboo sticks called Chajja Haryana Ghumar, Phag, Khoria, Dhamal performed by women Daf and chaurayya men

Gujarat Garba- earthen pot with holes in which a lamp is placed and women dance around it. Garbi similar to garba but with different footwork and meant for males Zeriyun and Kudaniyun farmer women songs about Krishna Dhamal Typical rasa dance done with sticks used as sword play Goph stick dance in which strips of colourful cloths tied to a pole in centre are woven into rope by dance Gheraiya rasa wand and peacock feather in two hands and strike the wand against the partner as they move in zig-zag pattern Maharashtra Tamasha a folk theatre roots lay in gathas which depict rural love scenes in a naughty flavor in couplet form patronized by Marathi rulers Lavani songs and dances of decidedly provocative kind Lezim Dahikala Rajasthan Ghoomar/ Jhumar/Gangore - This is a folk dance of Rajasthan. It derives its name from its characteristic pirouettes.

Suisini Jhulan leela Gopika leela

Himachal Pradesh

Charba dance by gaddi shepherdesses Mahasu Thali Nati Jadda Jhainta Thoda and thali Punjab

Bhangra - Harvest dance Giddha folk dance of women

Uttar Pradesh

Ras leela Krishna legend Kajri harvest dance

Karan harvest dance Jhora- kumaon region Chappeli spring dance , wedding dance

Kathi stick dance Baul wandering minstrels dance of sahajiya sect Chhau meaning shadow or mask. Basically a male mask dance and characterized by martial movements . Themes are from Ramayana and mahabharatha. There are three schools Seraikela Jharkhand Purulia Bengal Mayurbhanj - Orissa

Baishaki bihu Khel gopal Tabal chongbi at holi Rakhal leela Nong krem in khasi hills Canoe dance in surma valley Khel gopal Nati and ojapali Manipur Ras dances maha ras, nitya ras, vasanta ras celebrates the season and depicts life of Krishna Khamba Thoibi depicts love story of radha Krishna Pung cholam dance with drums

Jata jatin rain dance

Tamil nadu

Kolattam stick dance by girls Pinnal kolattam dance around maypole in which intricate patterns are woven and unwoven to music Kummi dance by women clapping their hands in circle Karagam temple dance in which kalashas are balanced on head while dancing

Dummy horse dance religious dance @ Tanjore temple


Ghanta maradala Banjara


Kaikottikali by girls and women during holi Airukali men temple dance Tattamakali men temple dance

Huttari Suggi Yakshagna dance drame based on epics mahabharatha and Ramayana deals with themes of valour and heroism
Orissa Sanchar Ghumara Dandanta Chadya

Tribal dances
Sarhul Oraons of Jharkhand Karma Kols JH,OR,MP Jadur Bhumiyas of MP Dangla, Pali Bhils of RJ, GJ, MP Banboo dance Nagas Rengama Nagas Magah Ho tribes of JH Chaith, Rina Baiga women MP, CH, JH Saila Baiga men and women Karsanas and bison dance Murias Bastar chattisgarh

Jadur Bhumiyas of mayurbhanj OR Kakasar - by Abhujamaria of bastar before harvest Goncho, Godo, Dewari gonds of bastar Harendanna, Bison dance karsanas murias of bastar

Martial dances

They have roots in natyashashtra. Traditionally they have their origin from the combat that took place between gods and demons for procession of surabhi. Gatka Punjab by Nihang community Paika Bihar Thag-Ta Manipur display of swords Kalaripayattu Kerala Choliya nritya Pithorgarh, UP Pang Lhabosol Sikkim swords Padidanda budelkhand,Mp