Indian Classical Dance And Forms

Indian Classical Dance: Dance has traditionally been an important part of religious culture in India. It is an ancient and celebrated custom tradition in India. According to the Indian epic, the gods invented dance.

Dancing is one of the most honored Hindu arts because it incorporates melody, drama, form, and line. Gestures, body positions, and head movements are highlighted in Indian dance. The primary importance of dance is the use of hands, fingers, and eyes.

There are almost thousands of specific hand movements and mudras. India is a land of diverse dance forms, with a treasure house of a variety of folk and tribal dances across the country.

The uniqueness of dances in India binds the entire country together and makes it feel proud of other countries. In ancient times, this art form was considered to celebrate, worshipping, and as a gesture of thanksgiving to the deity.

The cultural richness of Indian is reflected by its dance forms. The dance of India is broadly classified into three categories i.e. classical dances of India, folk dances of India, and tribal dances of India.

All these dance forms have their own style and cultural values associated with the dance forms. Here we present you the list of dance forms in India and the history of Indian Classical Dance

History of Indian Classical Dance

As the story goes in Bharata’s Natya Shastra, when Lord Brahma was requested by the Gods to create a pastime, he combined certain aspects of the four Vedas and created a fifth Veda known as Natya Veda. Natya is an amalgamation of dance, drama, and music and included Pathya (words) from Rig Veda, Abhinaya (gestures) from Yajur Veda, Geet (music) from Sam Veda, and rasa (emotions) from Atharva Veda.

This highlights the divine importance attached to dance in the Indian cultural tradition. From Shiva’s tandava dance, which signifies the cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction, to the feminine response of Parvati, Indian mythology is replete with examples of dance forms and expressions. Similarly, the engravings of community dancing at Bhimbetka and the sculpture of the Bronze dancing girl of the Harappan civilization highlight the importance of dance as means of social entertainment.

The first formal mention of dance is found in Bharata Muni’s famous work Natya Shastra which gives a most comprehensive and vivid treatise on the various facets of Indian classical dance. The work was compiled in between 200 BCE and 2nd century A.D. and describes in detail the techniques, postures, emotions, ornaments, stage, and even the audience. Bharata Muni describes dance as the ‘complete art encompassing within its scope all other forms of art – music, sculpture, poetry, and drama.

Aspects of Indian Classical Dance

As per Natyashastra, there are two basic aspects of Indian classical dance.

  1. Lasya – It denotes grace, bhava, rasa, and abhinaya. It is symbolic of the feminine features of dance as an art form.
  2. Tandava – This is symbolic of the male aspects of dance and has more emphasis on rhythm and movement.

As per Abhinaya Darpana, Nandikeshwara famous treatise on dance, and act has been broken into three basic elements:

  •  Nritta – It refers to the basic dance steps, performed rhythmically but devoid of any expression or mood.
  • Natya – It means dramatic representations and refers to the story that is elaborated through the dance recital.
  • Nritya – Nritya refers to the sentiment and the emotions evoked through dance. It includes the mime and the different methods of expression including mudras in the dance.

Nandikeshwara further elaborates the Nayaka-Nayika Bhav, in which the eternal deity is seen as the hero or Nayaka, and the devotee who performs the dance is the heroine of the act, the Nayika. There are nine races or emotions that are expressed through the dance.

These moods and expressions are emoted through the use of mudras – a combination of hand gestures and body postures. There are 108 fundamental mudras, a combination of which is used to depict a particular emotion.

Indian Classical Dance Forms

Distinct styles of dance have evolved in the different regions of India, each with its own specific nuances. However, all these dance forms are governed by the basic rules and guidelines laid down in the Natya Shastra, the principal rule being that true transfer of knowledge can only come through a guru. The guru passes on the knowledge of the different traditions – sampradayas – onto the disciple. This ‘guru-shisya parampara’ forms the core of the Indian classical art form.

Presently, as per Sangeet Natak Akademi, there exist eight classical dance forms in India.

List of Indian Classical Dance Forms

S.No State Dance Forms
1 Andhra Pradesh Kuchipudi.
Kottam
2 Assam Ojapali
Bihu
Ankia Nat
3 Arunachal Pradesh Lion and Peacock dance
Chalo
Popir
Bardo Chham
Aji Lamu
4 Bihar Jata Jatin
Faguna or Fag
Purbi
Bidesia
5 Chhatisgarh Panthi
Raut Nacha
6 Gujarat Dandya Ras
Garba Lasya Nritya
Bhavai
Garba
Rasila
Trippan
7 Goa Fugdi
Dekhnni
Tarangamel
Dhalo
8 Haryana Swang
Khoria
Gugga dance
Loor
Sang
Dhama
9 Himachal Pradesh Luddi Dance
Munzra
Kanayala
Giddha Parhaun
Hikat
10 Jammu and Kashmir Rouf
Chakri
11 Jharkhand Karma
12 Karnataka Yakshagana
Bayalata
Simha Nutrya
Dollu Kunitha
Veeragase
13 Kerala Chakiarkoothu
Kathakali
Mohiniattam
Ottam Thullal
Chavittu Natakam
Kaikotti Kalai
Koodiyattam
Krishnavattam
Mudiyettu
Tappatri Kai
Theyyam
14 Lakshadweep Lava
15 Madhya Pradesh Macha
Lota
Pandvan
Tertali
Charkula
Jawara
Matki dance
Phulpatti dance
Grida dance
Maanch
Gaur maria dance
16 Mizoram Chiraw (Bamboo Dance)
17 Manipur Thang ta
Dhol cholom
Manipuri
18 Maharashtra Tamasha
Dahi Kala
Lavani
Lezim
19 Odisha Odissi
Savari
Ghumara
Paika
Chhau
Gotipua
Sambalpur
20 Puducherry Garadi
21 Punjab Bhangra
Giddha
Daff
Dhaman
Malwai
Jhumar,
Karthi
Kikli
Sammi
Dandass
Ludi
Jindua
22 Rajasthan Ghumar
Chakri
Gangaur
Jhulan
Leela
Jhuma
Suisini
Ghapal
Kalbelia
23 Sikkim Singhi chham
Yak Chaam
Maruni
Rechungma
24 Tamil Nadu Bharatnatyam
Kumi
Kolattam
Kavadi
Karagattam
Theru koothu
Bommal attam
Puliyaattam
Oyilattam
25 Telangana Perini Thandavam
Dappu
Lambadi
26 Tripura Hojagiri
Goria
Lebang Boomani
27 Uttarakhand Chholiya
Jagars
Thali-Jadda
Jhainta
Barada Nat
28 Uttar Pradesh Nautanki
Raslila
Kajri
Jhora
Chhapeli
Jaita
29 West Bengal Jatra
Chau
Kathi

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