Dances of India

One of the key features of India that has earned the country great fame, respect and recognition are the art forms. Indian music, dance and drama are considered as epics for true art lovers all over the world. One art form that has put India on the world cultural map is classical dance. The dances of India are based on scientific fundamentals and deep study of physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of human life.

Classical Forms
The dances of India are divided into two main categories, namely, classical and folk dances. The classical dances of India have a huge following in and outside India. In India, these dance forms are associated to the worship of the almighty and are hence considered sacred. The major classical forms of India are Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Odissi,
Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Manipuri.

Each of these forms has a totally different set of learning, principles and challenges and each of these forms have their origins in different state in India. Accordingly, the origins of Bharatnatyam can be traced to the state of Tamil Nadu while Kathakali and Mohiniattam originated from the state of Kerala. Kuchipudi belongs to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, Odissi belongs to Orissa while Kathak originated from the northern part of India, namely Uttar Pradesh. There is a major difference in the kind of movements, body position and energy required for each of these dances.

Bharatnatyam, Kathakali and Kuchipudi are mainly vigorous dance forms while Kathak, Odissi and Mohiniattam are among the delicate forms of classical dance. Most of these dance forms comprise of pieces based on the Hindu mythological stories where the characters are Hindu gods and goddesses. All the classical dance forms are based on pure Indian classical music and ragas.

The dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam are based on Carnatic classical music while Kathak is based on Hindustani classical music. Most of these dances date back to the ancient era and they find a mention in the Vedas and other holy texts. The temples too reflect the growth and development of these classical dance forms.

The temples of Madurai, Chidambaram and Khajuraho have carvings of gods and goddesses making different poses. These classical dances of India provide the origins to various folk dances in the country.

The classical dances of India are strongly rooted in the Indian culture and traditions. A student of Indian classical dance requires immense hard work, patience, perseverance and dedication to master the dance to the core.

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