India is a mix of cultures, ideas, languages, diversity and one thing that distinguishes India from every other country is the spirit of performing arts. Out of the various ways that India has used to express its expressions and emotions through centuries, dance is one form which makes the best use of moves, expressions and dignity. In India, we highly believe in the strength of the art of performing classical dances. We hereby present you the main classical dance forms and their significance in the country.
Bharatanatyam – Tamil Nadu
Bharatnatyam Dance is considered to be over 2000 years old and mother of all other style of classical dance in India. The classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam originated from the art of temple dancers in the South India state of Tamil Nadu. There is also a great deal of visual evidence of this dance form in paintings and stone and metal sculptures of ancient times. Bharatanatyam is reworked form of dance from the traditional sadir and combination of expression,music,beat and dance. Bharatanatyam or the fire dance is one of the most popular styles of dance performed by male and female dancers.
Kathak – Uttar Pradesh
Kathak is originated from Uttar Pradesh and one of the eight forms of ancient classical dances of India. Kathakars or story-tellers, are people who narrate stories largely based on episodes from the epics, myths and legends. It probably started as an oral tradition. Mime and gestures were perhaps added later on to make the recitation more effective. Thus evolved a simple form of expressional dance, providing the origins of what later developed into Kathak as we see it today. Today, Kathak has emerged as a distinct dance form. Being the only classical dance of India having links with Muslim culture, it represents a unique synthesis of Hindu and Muslim genius in art. Further, Kathak is the only form of classical dance wedded to Hindustani or the North Indian music. Both of them have had a parallel growth, each feeding and sustaining the other.
Kathakali – Kerala
Kathakali is one of the most attracting classical Indian dance-drama performed by well trained artist. Kathakali is a blend of dance, music and acting and dramatizes stories, which are mostly adapted from the Indian epics. It is a stylised art form, the four aspects of abhinaya – angika, aharya,vachika, satvika and the nritta, nritya and natya aspects are combined perfectly. The dancer expresses himself through codified hastamudras and facial expressions, closely following the verses (padams) that are sung.
Kuchipudi – Andhra Pradesh
The Classical Indian dance form originated Andhra Pradesh state and got its name from Kuchipudi village near the Bay of Bengal. Kuchipudi is the most popular traditional dance form in South India performed with violin, flute and the tambura instruments and the characters first introduces them self by the dharavu. 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).
Manipuri – Manipur
Manipuri dance form is one of the major classical dance forms of India,originates from the north-eastern state Manipur. Manipuri dance incorporates both the tandava and lasya and ranges from the most vigorous masculine to the subdued and graceful feminine. Generally known for its lyrical and graceful movements, Manipuri dance has an elusive quality. In keeping with the subtleness of the style, Manipuri abhinaya does not play up the mukhabhinaya very much – the facial expressions are natural and not exaggerated –sarvangabhinaya, or the use of the whole body to convey a certain rasa, is its forte.
Odissi – Orissa
Odissi is the oldest surviving dance form in India, originates from state of Orissa. Odissi closely follows the tenets laid down by the Natya Shastra. Facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements are used to suggest a certain feeling, an emotion or one of the nine rasas.
Sattriya – Assam
The Sattriya Dance of Assam is living tradition of state and one of the eight major classical Indian dance traditions. Sattriya dance tradition is governed by strictly laid down principles in respect of hastamudras, footworks, aharyas, music etc. Sattriya classical dance form is well appreciated and practiced outside the state as well as outside of Indian mainland.
Mohiniyattam literally interpreted as the dance of ‘Mohini’, the celestial enchantress of the Hindu mythology, is the classical solo dance form of Kerala. Mohiniyattam is another classical dance style from Kerala state and one of the eight principal Indian classical dance. The delicate body movements and subtle facial expressions are more feminine in nature and therefore are ideally suited for performances by women.
In terms of the classical tradition formulated in the Natyashastra, dance and music are an inextricable part of drama. The art of natyacarries in it all these constituents and the actor is himself the dancer and the singer, the performer combined all the three functions. With the passage of time the status of an independent and specialised art, marked the beginning of the ‘art’ dance in India.