Traditional Dance Forms of India

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And what better feature of the nation could depict this than the Indian dance forms. The traditional dances of India have different styles. This is so because the dance forms belong to diverse areas of the nation – they originated there and then developed with all the cultural elements.

There are a great many folk dances that belong to separate regions of the country and are mainly performed by the local people of that specific region only. The Indian movie dances also hold an important spot in the culture of the nation.

The dance forms of India have their origin since the ancient Vedic period wherein people used to gratify into dancing and singing for recreational and entertainment purposes. The Hindu text Natya Shastra includes all of the earliest compilations of the ancient dance forms.

From these early dance forms are derived the classical dances of India. Let us get an insight into the popular dances of the country.

Bharatanatyam
Originated in 1000 BC, the Bharatanatyam dance belongs to Tamil Nadu in South India. This is mostly performed on Carnatic music. Earlier, the dance was performed only in Hindu temples and at other religious places. Bharatanatyam used to be a solo dance form performed exclusively by women and depicted religious thoughts and spiritual themes. During the British era, this dance form was curbed and ridiculed. However, it went on to become one of the most famous traditional dances of India.

Kathakali
Kathakali is a 17th-century dance form which is performed like a story-play and has very colourful and elaborate costumes, makeup, as well as face masks. Unlike other Indian dance forms, Kathakali is performed mainly by men. It was also traditionally performed in temples and religious chambers. The dance movements are incorporated from the early athletic traditions and martial arts of South India.

Kathak
This dance form belongs to North India, and the title’Kathak’ was taken from the Sanskrit work’katha’ which means’story’. Hence, Kathak is’the person who tells the story’. It majorly is made up of passionate and youth stories of Lord Krishna. Kathak has three different forms which belong to, and are also named after three North Indian cities – Lucknow, Banaras and Jaipur. Ghungroo (little bells) is the main element and involves rhythmic body movements with facial expressions.

Kuchipudi
Kuchipudi is a dance form of Andhra Pradesh. As with other major classical Indian dances, Kuchipudi also has its roots and developed as a spiritual performing art. According to history, this dance was originally performed by Brahmin males, but now both men and women perform this dance.

Odissi
This dance belongs to Odisha, the coastal country of Eastern India. Odissi is a dance-drama style performing art, practiced traditionally by women to express spiritual themes and spiritual ideas. The dancing is accompanied by musicians, wherein they exude mythical tales, and the dancers perform wearing symbolic costumes with rhythmic motions, facial expressions and gestures.

Manipuri
As the name implies, this dance form is in the North-Eastern Indian state of Manipur. This dance form takes its inspiration from the Raslila of Radha-Krishna and portrays these love-inspired dances. Manipuri is performed in a group and has a very unique and special costume called Kumil, which is a beautifully decorated skirt in the shape of a barrel. This is a very graceful dance which majorly involves movements of the upper body.

Mohiniyattam
This dance form of Kerala takes its title from the seductress avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu, Mohini, who lured the evil demons to help good prevail over the bad. Mohiniyattam is a Lasya style dance which is feminine in nature and comprises delicate body motions.

So, these were the most famous traditional dances of India and a little history about their origins. Aside from these, there are other tribal and folk dances too that indicate the significance of Indian culture.

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