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India’s 8 glorious classical dance forms! Read to know more about them


Article by Puhar Pallab Bharali, The North-Eastern Chronicle

Visual by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah

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Indian Classical Dance is an umbrella term for various performance arts that is rooted in musical theatre styles. Classical dance form can be characterized by grace and precision of movement, and by elaborate formal gestures, steps, and poses.

It is also a theatrical presentation of group or solo dancing to a musical accompaniment, usually with costume and scenic effects, conveying a story or theme.

In India there are many forms of classical dance originating from various states in the country. However, out of these only few of them are recognized in a national level.

Also read: Stressed with post pandemic workload? Take a nostalgic trip with us as we look back to 5 childhood games lost in this digital time

Here are the 8 recognized classical dance forms of India

Bharatnatyam from Tamil Nadu

Bharata Natyam 1 classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

The origin of Bharatnatyam can be traced back to 1000 BC when women of the classical age used to perform in the ancient temples. It is characterized by beautiful body movements and gestures which are called Mudras along with Carnatic music.

This dance form focuses on the hand gestures, leg movement and the facial expressions of the dancer. Even though the dance form was depressed during the colonial era, India was able to keep this alive and is recognized as one of the most respected art forms.

Kathak from Uttar Pradesh

kathak classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

Kathak is a dance form that indulges itself in story telling. As the name suggest, this form comes from the hindi word ‘katha’ which means story. It is also known as the dance of love, and it can be performed by both by the male and female dancer together. This dance mainly focuses on ankle movements.

Kathakali from Kerala

kathakali classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

Originating from the southern part of the country, this dance form is one of the most renowned and religious dances forms of India. Kathakali translates to ‘story telling’ in native tongue.

This dance form indulges in the tales of Ramayana and Shiva. Most prominent feature of Kathakali is heavy costume including traditional face masks and body paints that are generally green. The music which includes only the vocals is called Soppanam.

Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh

Kuchipudi classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

Kuchipudi is a dance form which cannot be called a dance form singularly but a whole religious procedure dedicated to God. Originally this, dance form was only performed by males in temples mainly of the brahmin caste.

But with passage of times it became famous amongst the women. This dance form also requires singing along with performing the art.

Odissi from Odisha

Odissi classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

This classical dance form is mostly derived from the Hindu temples in Odisha. The sculptors and idols belonging to the ancient temples of India inspire most of the mudras of this dance form.

This dance is performed to express the story of Shiva and Surya. Odissi is considered as the oldest existing dance forms of India. Its music happens to be hindi poems in the form of music by the musicians.

Sattriya from Assam

Sattriya classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

This dance form was introduced by Mahapurusha Sankaradeva in 15th Century AD. As this dance form has been preserved in the sattras or Vaishnav monasteries of Assam, it has since remained a living tradition.

This dance form was originally only performed by ‘Bhokots’ or ‘monks’. However, this notion has now changed and now women also performs Sattriya dance and on the stage.

Manipuri from Manipur

Manipuri classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

This dance form is performed to narrate the romantic relationship between the Hindu gods Radha and Krishna that is famously known as RasLeela.

This dance form is featured by Manipuri traditional costumes and makeup. It is performed on the narrative and music created by Indian classical instruments.

Mohiniyattam from Kerala

Mohiniyattam classical The North-Eastern Chronicle

This dance form adheres to the avatar of Vishnu, Mohini the divine enchantress. It is the second most popular dance form in Kerala. This dance from originates from the age-old Sanskrit text Natya Shastra.

This dance from is traditionally performed by women and the song is called Manipravalam.

All these dance forms gives a diverse fabric composed of tradition and culture. These dance forms are a treasure to witness and must be preserved by this and the coming generations at any cost.


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