Art & Culture Notes Part 4 – Indian Dance Forms

There are many types of dance forms in India which are deeply religious in content to those which are performed on small occasions. The Indian dances are broadly divided into Classical dances and folk dances. The Classical dances of India are usually spiritual in content. Though the folk dances of India are also spiritual and religious in content the main force behind the folk dances of India is the celebratory mood. The most popular classical dance styles of India are Bharatnatyam of Tamil Nadu, Kathakali and Mohiniattam of Kerala, Odissi of Odisha, Kathak of Uttar Pradesh, Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh and Manipuri of Manipur.

Indian Classical Dances

India has thousands of years old tradition of fine arts and classical and folk music and dances. Some of the world-famous dance forms that originated and evolved in India are Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and Odissi. All these dance forms use basically the same ‘mudras’ or signs of hand as a common language of expression and were originally performed in the temples to entertain various Gods and Goddesses.

Indian Folk Dances

India is a land of varied cultures and traditions. Indian folk and tribal dances are the product of different socioeconomic setup and traditions. Indian folk and tribal dances are simple and are performed to express joy. In India, we have festivals and celebrations virtually every day. This has added to the richness of Indian culture.

Various Dance Forms

Dance Forms Origin Legends
Odissi Odissi is believed to be the oldest form of Indian dance from the state of Odisha, It is considered a dance of love, joy and intense passion, pure, divine and human. It divides the body into three parts, head, bust and torso Kelucharan MohapatraSonal Mansingh Mayadhar Raut, Jhelum Paranjape, KumKum Mohanty, Madhumita Raut, Aloka Kanungo, Ileana Citaristi
Bharat Natyam Bharatnatyam is more popular in South Indian states. This dance is almost 2,000 years old. This dance flourished in the Hindu temples of South India. Alarmel Valli, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Rukmini Devi, Padma Subramanyam, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, Padma Subramanyam, Balasarswati
Kuchipudi It presents scenes from Hindu Epics and mythological tales through dance-dramas combining music, dance and acting. Bhavana Reddy, Yamini Reddy, Raja & Radha Reddy, Kaushalya Reddy
Kathak This north Indian dance form is inextricably bound with classical Hindustani music, and the rhythmic nimbleness of the feet is accompanied by the tabla or pakhawaj Pandit Birju Maharaj, Kumudini Lakhiya, Sitara Devi, Shovana Narayan, Malabika Mitra, Kumudini Lakhiya, Kartik Ram – Kalyan Das, Manisha Gulyani
Kathakali It literally means story play and is an elaborate dance depicting the victory of truth over false-hood Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad, Kavungal Chathunni Panicker, Kavungal Chathunni Panicker, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodir, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Kalamandalam Gopi
Mohiniattam It is a very graceful dance meant to be performed as a solo recital by women. Smitha Rajan, Sunanda Nai, Jayaprabha Menon, Pallavi Krishnan, Gopika Varma, Vijayalakshmi
Manipuri The most striking part of Manipur dance is its colourful decoration, lightness of dancing foot, the delicacy of abhinaya (drama), lilting music and poetic charm Poushali Chatterjee, Rajkumar Singhajit Singh, Sohini Ray, Guru Nileswar Mukharjee, Guru Bipin Singha

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