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Kathak Dance

Classical Dances of India

Quickly Read Most Important Points about Classical Dances of India.

Classical Dances of India - Most Important Points for Prelims

What are the Classical Dances of India ?
  • Classical Dances of India are the traditional Indian dance forms whose origin can be traced from the Sanskrit text – ‘Natya Shastra’ by Bharata Muni. 
  • The 'Natya Shastra' is one of the the oldest surviving ancient Indian work on performance arts.
  • It describes in detail the technique, postures, emotions, ornaments and even audience for dance performances.
What are most basic aspects of Indian Classical Dances ?
  • 'Natya Shastra' defines two basic aspects of Indian Classical Dances - Lasya and Tandava.
  • Lasya :
    • It symbolizes the feminine features of a dance.
    • It expresses happiness and is filled with grace and beauty.
  • Tandava :
    • It symbolizes the male aspect of dance.
    • It also symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction.
What are the main components of Classical Dances ?
  • There are three main components of Indian Classical Dances.
    • Natya ( Dramatic element of the dance i.e. the imitation of characters)
    • Nritya ( Expressional component i.e. Mudras or gestures) 
    • Nritta ( Pure dance movements in their basic form)
Who recognizes classical dances in India?
  • Classical Dances in India are recognized by Sangeet Natak Academy and Ministry of Culture.
  • The Sangeet Natak Academy recognizes eight Classical Dances :
    • Bharatanatyam
    • Kathak
    • Kuchipudi
    • Odissi
    • Kathakali
    • Sattriya
    • Manipuri
    • Mohiniyattam
  • The Ministry of Culture recognizes nine Classical Dances. It includes 'Chhau' in its list of classical dances.
  • BharatnataymOldest classical dance.
  • State - Tamilnadu
  • Also known as 'Ekaharya', as one dancer takes on many roles in a single performance.
  • Symbolizes the element of fire as movements in Bharatanatyam resemble a dancing flame.
  • KathakTraditional dance which traces its origin back to the Ras Leela of Brajbhoomi. 
  • State - Uttar Pradesh
  • Derives its name from “Kathika” meaning storytellers.
  • Only Indian classical dance having a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim traditions.
  • Known for the development of different Gharanas (Lucknow, Jaipur, Raigarh, Banaras).
  • Only classical dance based on Hindustani style of music.
  • Important feature - 'Jugalbandi' ( A competitive play between the dancer and the tabla player ).
  • OdissiState - Odisha 
  • Symbolises the element of water.
  • Two styles of traditional Odissi :
    • Maharis (Devadasis or Temple Girls).
    • Gotipua ( Performed by Boys).
  • The dancers create intricate geometrical shapes and patterns with her body.
  • It is characterized by various Bhangas (Stance) - Two basic postures are Chowk (imitating a square) and the Tribhanga.
  • KathakaliState - Kerala 
  • Blend of dance, music and acting ('Katha' meaning story and 'Kali' meaning drama).
  • Symbolizes the element of sky.
  • The dancers enact the roles (kings, gods, demons etc.) of the stories with particular make-up and costume.
  • MohiniattamState - Kerala
  • Classical solo dance performed by women. 
  • It is interpreted as the dance of ‘Mohini’, the female form taken by God Vishnu to kill Bhasmasura. 
  • Symbolizes element of air.
  • Kuchipudi DanceOriginated in Kuchipudi village, Krishna district of modern Andhra Pradesh.
  • This dance form has emerged from a popular theatrical art ‘Kuchipudi Yakshagana’ .
  • It comprises techniques such as dancing on the rim of a brass plate and with a pitcher full of water on the head called Tarangam.
  • SattriyaState - Assam
  • Introduced by the great Vaishnava saint, Sankaradeva for propagation of the Vaishnava faith.
  • It grew as a part of Vaishnav Bhakti Movement in Hindu Monasteries called ‘Sattra’ and has been preserved by them.
  • Main themes of the dance are mostly on Radha-Krishna and other myths.
  • Perform by both male and female.
  • State - Manipur
  • This dance gained prominence under the advent of Vaishnavism.
  • Most popular forms of Manipuri dance are : Ras, Sankirtana and Thang-Ta.
  • The themes in Manipuri are mostly influenced by Hindu Vaishnavism. The main theme revolves around Radha, Krishna and the gopis.
Chhau Dance
  • ChhauState - Jharkhand, West Bengal
  • Chhau is a blend of folk, tribal and martial arts.
  • It has three different types originated from three different regions :
    • Seraikella Chhau 
    • Mayurbhanj Chhau 
    • Purulia Chhau

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