Indian Dance Forms: A Brief Introduction of Classical, Folk, Bollywood Dance forms!
Dance can be a profession, it can lead to stardom. Of course it can. But it can also be a process of meditation. It can be therapeutic. It can be a way to grapple with our own inner fears and demons. It can be a purely physical endeavour. It can be a purely mental journey. It can be a self-realisation of one’s cultural roots. It can lead to spiritual fulfillment. Indian classical dance is all this and so much more! Little wonder that even the gods danced in India. They too probably realized that it added value to their bliss in heaven!"
- Geeta Chandran
Introduction To Classical Indian Dance Forms:
© Chitrangada Sharan, December, 2015
- Anyone familiar with the Indian culture must be familiar with the significance of classical music and classical dance forms in India.
- Many styles of dancing have emerged and evolved over the years but nothing can replace the traditional and classical dance forms.
- The term "classical" or Shashtriya signifies Natya shashtra based performing art styles.
- Classical dance performances traditionally feature a story or a dance drama.
- The Nritya or the dance uses facial expressions and Mudra or hand gestures, to narrate the story or to demonstrate concepts such as particular objects, weather, aspects of nature and emotions.
- Classical Indian dance is also known as Natya which includes singing and acting or Abhinaya.
- Different dance forms have originated in different parts of India according to the local traditions and culture.
How Many Classical Dance Forms Are There In India?
§ The national academy for performing arts, Sangeet Natak Academy has recognized eight styles of traditional dances as Indian classical dances. These might or might not have origin in religious activities of ancient times.
- Bharatnatyam (Tamil Nadu)
- Kathak (Uttar Pradesh)
- Kathakali (Kerala)
- Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh)
- Manipuri (Manipur)
- Odissi (Odisha)
- Mohiniattyam (Kerala)
- Sattriya ( Assam)
§ All these dance forms may look similar at a first glance but they are quite different from each other in theory and performances. They have originated in different states of India and have different history from each other.
§ In ancient India, there were no dedicated auditorium. or theatres for dance performances. , Dance was normally a religious/ spiritual activity and was performed in temples to worship Gods and Goddesses.
§ The most revered Hindu Deities such as Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali, Lord Krishna, Lord Rama are represented in classical Indian dancing. Shiva's Tandava and Krishna's Raas Lila are some of the examples.
§ Each part of the body is involved and the expressions are mostly by eyes, head and hand gestures in coordination with disciplined foot movements.
§ The dancers spend a whole lifetime to learn, practice and preach the classical dances with deep passion which is unmatched.
Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people."
~~ Alvin Ailey
A Brief Introduction To The Classical Dances Of India:
One of the most popular classical Indian dances, Bharatnatyam has its origin in South India in the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Bharatnatyam dance is almost 2,000 years old and is believed that it was revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage who then codified this sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called the Natya Shastra.
Kathak as an Indian classical dance originated in North India and is derived from the word katha, which means story telling in artistic way.
There were Kathakars or bards who used to recite religious and mythological stories accompanied with music, hand, eye gestures with disciplined foot movement in this elegant dance form.
This classical dance form from the Indian state of Kerala is popular for its unique make up and heavy costumes. Kathakali means dance drama or story play.
Kathakali is recognized as one of the most creative and wonderful dance drama form. Indian epics such as Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other mythologies are portrayed in this most popular classical dance form.
Kuchipudi derives its name from the Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh in Southern part of India.It has its origins as old as 17th century
Kuchipudi enacts dances from the Hindu Epics, mythological characters and it is a pleasure to watch the combination of classical music, dance and abhinaya (acting).
♣ Manipuri :
Manipuri dance as the name suggests has its origins from the state of Manipur.in North East of India.
The Manipuri dance form is unique and graceful due to its delicacy in dancing, light foot movements, music and costume. Just like the simple people of Manipur it signifies simplicity and poetic beauty.
♣ Mohiniattam :
A classical dance form of Kerala in Southern part of India, Mohiniattam is a combination of two words. Mohini which means beautiful women and attam which means dance.
It is a beautiful feminine style of classical dance form with graceful body movements. Mohiniattam dance form is in line of tradition of Devadasi system, which later evolved and attained the classical dance status.
♣ Odissi :
OdIssi as an Indian classical dance form originated in the state of Odisha.
Almost 2000 years old, this dance form has the distinction of being highly sensuous, ecstatic and passionate style of dancing and has its origin in the Devadasi tradition of ancient India.
Folk Dances And Tribal Dance Forms Of India
Folk dance forms and Tribal dances of India are those dances that are usually performed in groups and have their roots in villages and various tribal areas.
These dance forms are performed to express their everyday work, festivals, seasons, rituals and many other celebrations. These dances are part of their life. So one can see people dancing on weddings, child birth, harvesting etc.
Some of the folk dance forms that are performed in different states of India can be listed as---
- Bedara Vesha, Dollu Kunthia (Karnataka)
- Garba, Dandiya, Ghodakhund, Gagari (Gujarat)
- Ghoomar, Raasiya (Rajasthan)
- Bhangra, Gidda (Punjab)
- Chholiya (Uttarakhand)
- Bihu (Assam)
- Sambalpuri (Odisha)
- Neyopa, Bacha Nagma in Jammu and Kashmir
Like other dances these folk and tribal dances also have definite costumes and accessories which distinguishes them and gives them identity.
Mostly people learn these dances by watching others perform and not like classical dances which need theoretical as well as practical training and also qualify in examination related to their dance training. .
- Bollywood refers to the Cinema and film industry in Mumbai (Earlier Bombay).
- The dances in Indian cinema are not confined to a particular style of dancing.
- They can be a combination of Indian classical, folk dance, tribal dance, contemporary style, Western style of dancing.
- Normally it is to express a part of the script through dance, drama, lyrics and these Bollywood dances are choreographed by artists well versed in many styles of dancing.
- What comes out is amazing because it has all the attractions that can keep the attention of the audience.
- The costume, ornaments, music, props, scenery, whether outdoor or indoor all add to the charm of a popular Bollywood dance performance.
- It is difficult to imagine an Indian film without a song and dance sequence. People love it and film makers make it in keeping with the trend most liked by movie watchers.
Which style of Indian Dance do you like the most?
To Sum up:
- Indian Classical Dance is an ancient cultural tradition in India.
- Across the country huge group of men and women can be found dancing at festivals and weddings, child birth and other occasions to celebrate.
- This is the way they express their happiness and love for their rich culture and traditions.
- This is the reason why dance and song feature heavily in Indian films as well..
© Chitrangada Sharan 18th Dec. 2015
All Rights Reserved.
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Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.
Bharatnatyam dance, source: Youtube
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© 2015 Chitrangada Sharan