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Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Cultural | 0 comments

The 7 Popular Indian Classical Dance Forms

India has a very rich tradition of classical dance. Each form has its own specialty & grace, along with a set pattern of costumes & make-up.

Indian dance forms are famous for their expressions. The intricacy, thoughtful movements, and elaborate costumes is exactly what attracts everyone to these dances. The rich and varied heritage asia is showcased through its traditional dance forms. Each region boasts of a particular type of dance, that is unique to its culture. Perhaps it is just in India, that you would look for a different dance form, just like unique as the rest, in each and every state. The roots of certain dance forms are extremely ancient, that their survival today is a wonder! These dances have influenced poetry, songs, architecture, theater, music, and much more such art forms. For some, these dances really are a form of life, which are as important as the religion they practice; a method to be closer to God. There are various styles of classical dance in India. Each one has its own geographic origin, technique and training philosophy and distinctive history. Here is a list of some Indian Classical Dance Forms:

The 7 Popular Indian Classical Dance Forms

The 7 Popular Indian Classical Dance Forms


Bharatanatyam is really a classic dance form beginning in Tamil Nadu, a state in South India and it is the known as the Indian National Dance. This dance form is really a 20th century reconstruction of Cathir, the skill of temple dancers. Cathir in turn, comes from ancient dance forms. Bharatanatyam is generally accompanied by the classical Carnatic music. Bharatanatyam is considered to be a fire-dance – the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of fire within your body. The movements of an authentic Bharatanatyam dancer resemble the movements of a dancing flame.


Kuchipudi (pronounced as ‘Koochipoodi’) is really a Classical Indian dance form from Andhra Pradesh, a situation of South India. The movements in Kuchipudi are quicksilver and scintillating, rounded and fleet-footed .Specifically you have the Tarangam of Kuchipudi which is unique for the reason that the dancer must dance upon a brass plate, placing feet upon the raised edges. The dancer moves the plate with much balance because the indiviudal is traditionally dancing around the plate with two diyas (small oil-burning candles) in their hands while balncing a “kundi” (small vessel) containing water on their own head. At the end of the dance, typically, the dancer extinguishes the candles and washes his or her hands with the water in the vessel.


Kathak, originated from northern India. This dance form traces its origins towards the the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, referred to as Kathaks, or story tellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales in the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It had been quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music together with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories.


This is not just a dance, but a dance drama that’s performed to explain a story or a mythological episode. The meaning of the world ‘Kathakali’ is ‘story-play’. It involves a lot of eye and eyebrow movement. The dancers are adorned within an elaborate costume with colorful makeup. Scenes in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other ancient epic stories, are enacted within this dance form. It is performed solely by men; even the female characters are enacted by male performers. The music played for this dance is Carnatic and instruments include the Chenda, Idakka, Maddalam, etc.


This is also in line with the Natya Sashtra and it can be traced back to the 2 B.C. once the Jain king Shastra ruled. He himself was a specialist dancer and musician, who arranged a performance of Thandava and Abhinaya. Within the 17th century a class of boys referred to as Gotipuas came into being. They dressed as ladies and danced in the temples. The present Odissi like a solo form, evolved out of all these. Its technique is built round a basic motif in which the human body takes the thrice deflected (tribhanga) position of Indian sculpture. The dances are performed to poetry ranging from invocations of Ganesha towards the verses of the Gita Govinda. The dancer has scope to improve within the beats, the framework within the dance patterns and the freedom to interpret the poetic line in a number of ways to evoke a single mood.

Manipuri Classical Dance

Manipuri Classical Dance


Another popular classical dances of India is Manipuri dance. This dance type of Manipur and is inextricably woven into the lifetime of the people of the state. The dance form is mainly ritualistic, which draws heavily from the rich lore from the legend and mythology. The dances known as the rasa dances evolved only as a result of the interaction from the Vaishnava cult and several highly developed types of ritual and religious dances which were prevalent in the region, in the 18th century. The costumes utilized in this dance are colourful and bright, and the music is slow in addition to rhythmic. The numbers presented are Lai Haraoba and Rasa Leela. The previous deals with the creation of the world and also the latter deals with the intimacy between Krishna and the consort – Radha. A large variety of intricate rhythmic patterns are played around the drums and cymbals.


Sattriya the core of Sattriya Nritya has usually been mythological stories. This was an artistic way of presenting mythological teachings to folks in an accessible, immediate, and enjoyable manner. Traditionally, Sattriya was performed only by bhokots (male monks) in monasteries as part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals. Today, furthermore practice, Sattriya is also performed on stage by women and men who are not members of the sattras, on themes not simply mythological.

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