Important Classical Dances of India
1. Bharat Natyam – Tamil Nadu
2. Bihu – Assam
3. Bhangra – Punjab
4. Chhau – Bihar, Orissa, W. Bengal and Jharkhand
5. Garhwali – Uttaranchal
6. Garba – Gujarat
7. Hattari – Karnataka
8. Kathak – North India
9. Kathakali – Kerala
10. Kutchipudi – Andhra Pradesh
11. Khantumm – Mizoram
12. Karma – Madhya Pradesh
13. Laho – Meghalaya
14. Mohiniattam – Kerala
15. Mando – Goa
16. Manipuri – Manipur
17. Nati – Himachal Pradesh
18. Nat‐Natin – Bihar
19. Odissi – Orissa
20. Rauf – Jammu & Kashmir
Classical dance in India has developed a type of dance-drama that is a form of a total theater. The dancer acts out a story almost exclusively through gestures. Most of the classical dances enact stories from Hindu mythology.Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people.
The criteria for being considered as classical is the style's adherence to the guidelines laid down in Natyashastra, which explains the Indian art of acting. The Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight Indian classical dance styles: Bharatanatyam(Tamil Nadu), Kathak (North India), Kathakali (Kerala), Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh), Manipuri (Manipur), Mohiniyattam (Kerala), Odissi(Odisha), and Sattriya (Assam).
The tradition of dance has been codified in the Natyashastra and a performance is considered accomplished if it manages to evoke a rasa(emotion) among the audience by invoking a particular bhava(gesture or facial expression). Classical dance is distinguished from folk dance because it has been regulated by the rules of the Natyashastra and all classical dances are performed only in accordance with them.
Dating back to 1000 BCE, Bharatanatyam is a classical dance from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, practiced predominantly in modern times by women. The dance is usually accompanied by classical Carnatic music. Its inspirations come from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. It was codified and documented as a performing art in the 19th century by four brothers known as the Thanjavur Quartet whose musical compositions for dance form the bulk of the Bharatanatya repertoire even today.
Kathakali (katha, “story”; kali, “performance”) is a highly stylized classical dance-drama form which originated from Kerala in the 17th century. This classical dance form is particularly noticed for dancer's elaborate costume, towering head gear, billowing skirts, and long silver nails. Recent developments in Kathakali over the years include improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming. Kathakali is performed regularly at festivals in temples, at cultural shows for connoisseurs and also at international events, occasionally in fusion dance experiments.
Originating from north Indian states, In ancient Indian temples Brahmin priests(pandits) used to narrate the stories of gods and goddesses through dance, they were known as ((kathakar)) and the dance came to be known as "kathak". Kathak traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or storytellers.Its form today contains traces of temple and ritual dances, and the influence of the bhakti movement. From the 16th century onwards it absorbed certain features of Persian dance and Central Asian dance which were imported by the royal courts of the Mughal era. There are three major schools or gharanas of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage: the gharanas of Benares, Jaipur and Lucknow.
Dating back to 2nd century BCE it is a classical dance from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is the name of a village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district that borders the Bay of Bengal and also the surname of the resident Brahmins practicing this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name. The performance usually begins with some stage rites, after which each of the character comes on to the stage and introduces him/herself with a dharavu (a small composition of both song and dance) to introduce the identity, set the mood, of the character in the drama. The drama then begins. The dance is accompanied by song which is typically Carnatic music. The singer is accompanied by mridangam, violin, flute and the tambura. Ornaments worn by the artists are generally made of a light weight wood called Boorugu.
Odissi, also known as Orissi (Oriya: ଓଡ଼ିଶୀ oṛiśī, Devnagari:ओड़िसी), is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Odisha, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences.there are mainly three books of Odissi.The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. 1st century BCE bas-reliefs in the hills of Udaygiri (near Bhubaneshwar) testify to its antiquity. It was suppressed under the British Raj, but has been reconstructed since India gained independence. It is particularly distinguished from other classical Indian dance forms by the importance it places upon the Tribhangi (literally: three parts break), the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis and upon the basic square stance known as Chauka or Chouka that symbolizes Lord Jagannath. This dance is characterized by various Bhangas (Stance), which involves stamping of the foot and striking various postures as seen in Indian sculptures. The common Bhangas are Bhanga, Abhanga, Atibhanga and Tribhanga.
Sattriya, or Sattriya Nritya (Assamese: সত্ৰীয়া নৃত্য), is one among eight principal classical Indian dance traditions. Where as some of the other traditions have been revived in the recent past, Sattriya has remained a living tradition since its creation by the founder of Vaishnavism inAssam, the great saint Srimanta Sankardeva, in 15th century Assam. Satriya dance performance at Guwahati Rabindra Bhawan
Sankardeva created Sattriya Nritya as an accompaniment to the Ankia Naat (a form of Assamese one-act plays devised by him), which were usually performed in the sattras, as Assam's monasteries are called. As the tradition developed and grew within the sattras, the dance form came to be called Sattriya Nritya. Today, although Sattriya Nritya has emerged from within the confines of the sattras to a much wider recognition, the sattras continue to use the dance form for ritualistic and other purposes for which it was originally created circa 500 years ago.It also has recently become one of the Indian Classical Dances.
Folk dances and plays in India retain significance rural areas as the expression of the daily work and rituals of village communities.These dances have their roots in religious and seasonal festivals that have become a background for such celebrations. They are mostly performed in groups.
Sanskrit literature of medieval times describes several forms of group dances such as Hallisaka, Rasaka, Dand Rasaka and Charchari. The Natya Shastra defines group dances of women as a preliminary dance performed in prelude to a drama.
Folk dances can be located according to the regions of their origin. Every state has its own folk dance forms like Bedara Vesha, Dollu Kunitha in Karnataka, Garba, Gagari (dance), Ghodakhund & Dandiya in Gujarat, Kalbelia, Ghoomar, Rasiya in Rajasthan, Neyopa, Bacha Nagma in Jammu and Kashmir, Bhangra & Giddha in Punjab, Chholiya dance in Uttarakhand, Bihu dance in Assam, Sambalpuri Dance inWestern Odisha and likewise for each state and smaller regions in it.
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