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India, since ancient times, has been a rich civilization, attracting and incorporating diverse cultures from all over the world. The architectural ruins of India, the spectacular carvings on its temples and tombs and of course the wealth displayed through its various art forms is a tribute to this great culture of which we are all so proud. Also Read – 6 Classical Indian Dance Forms Explained
It is believed that the Indian dance form essentially evolved through the Natya Rasa created by Lord Natraja to entertain and please the gods. Natya Rasa incorporates all aspects of theater, including song, dance and drama. Most (mostly classical) dance forms feature a story from mythology or weave a tale of a contemporary situation through their movements, expressions and emotions. Watching a classical dance performance is in many ways like watching opera. It is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. With this article, we will take a journey through the vibrant dance forms (some inherent, some adopted) that complete the warp and weft of Indian culture. Also Read – 5 Aesthetic Indian Dance Forms You Didn’t Know About
Considered to be the oldest form of dance in India, Bharatnatyam originates primarily from Tamil Nadu and is a delicious combination of traditions sadir punctuated by expression, music, rhythm and dance. This form of dance is slow and moving, but sometimes fast and fluid and therefore is also called fire dance.
Mainly practiced in Uttar Pradesh, this form of dance is a gift from the Mughals to the Indians. This dance form received great patronage in Uttar Pradesh, a main stronghold of Mughal rule, and later became popular throughout the country. If you break down the word ‘kathak’ it means telling a story. There is a great deal of importance given to the ‘nazakat‘or the manners, grace and etiquette of a dancer in Kathak.
Another dance performed in temples, this form originates from Odisha (as the name suggests). Primarily performed to please Lord Jagannath in the Konark Sun Temple. The autonomous characteristic of this dance form is that it is independent of the head, chest and pelvis.
Hailing from Kerala, the land of God, Kathakali is one of the most difficult forms of dance to learn and perform. Only qualified artists can expertly perform the makeup and elaborate costumes.
Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Kuchipudi’s popularity ranks just after Bharat Natyam.
It is indeed a spiritual experience to witness a live performance from Manipuri. Mythological tales of the romance of Radha and Krishna (raas-leela) are repeated in these dances.
Originally from Assam, this form of dance perpetuates the Assamese tradition. It is more of a contemporary dance form and was initiated to propagate the Vaishnava faith in Assam. It is considered a neo-Vaishnava treasure which mainly lays the foundations of the theater in this region.