Everything you need to know about the classical dances of India.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what actually the classical dances of India are, what are its types and forms, and I am here to clear those confusions and let you know more about the ethereal culture of India.

there are 7 classical dances of India.

kathak

A dance form originated in the area of the present state of Uttar Pradesh, nearly 2000 years ago. Kathak literally means, one who tells a story, and that’s what it is all about. Stories and chronicles from the ancient era. It is usually known for its swift spins, bolting footwork and lightning movements. one of the fastest performing dances in the country, it is also the one of the most complex art forms. the techniques are the most important thing in the whole dance form, to practice them, there are special algorithms, for example, tarana, thumri, tukda, tatkaar, that, gat bhav, gat nikas etc. It predominantly has 3 gharanas included in it- Jaipur Gharana, Banaras Gharana and Lucknow Gharana. Jaipur gharana mainly focuses on the footwork while Banaras gharana concentrates more on the spins, and Lucknow, of course is all for the expressions or adaa. It consists of both theoretical and practical branches extending so widely that it is difficult to study all of it even in a lifetime. This prestigious dance has now spread in not only India but also the whole world. In almost every innovating country, you could find at least one Kathak dance institute. Late Pandit Chitresh das is primarily responsible for it fanning out in the US. The renowned Hindi film industry of India, or more commonly known as Bollywood, is most influenced by this form of dance. we can trace that in the songs like, kaahe chhed, aaja nachle, etc. Basically, around all Madhuri Dixit’s songs.

kathakali

A dance form originated from the area of Malabar(now Kerala), it uses vivid costumes and vibrant makeup when performed and has less theoretical knowledge when compared to any other dance forms. It mainly centralizes around depicting the stories of Krishna and usually is performed by male dancers. roots of the origin of Kathakali are not clear, but we do know that the style of Kathakali that is performed today was established in the 17th century. Most people have a misconception between the two dance forms of Kathak and Kathakali, but if you see the dance yourself, they are almost contradictory.

Bharatanatyam

The birthplace of this dance being ancient Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam highly focuses on the rigid and tight postures, the movement of the eyes, and the lithe of the dancer. it is more of a theoretical dance, rather than storytelling, but the latter has become fairly prominent in the 20th- 21st century. Bharatanatyam was initially exclusive only in the Hindu temples till the eighteenth century, but when the British declared on banning the dance, The people of India revolted, and started spreading the dance outside of temples and places of worship. And look now where it has brought us, Bharatanatyam is now the most famous Indian dance form in the world, and the most widely spread, and we hope it will remain so in the future.

Mohiniyattam

Another dance from the cultural state of Kerala, Mohiniyattam is a dance that follows the lasya style of dancing( soft, eros-filled and delicate) and is mostly performed by women after extensive training. First seen in the manuscripts written in the 16th century, it started systemizing in the 18th century but decreased popularity when the British Raj banned it in the years of 1931-1938. It regained its importance in the 21st century and is still thriving sprightly.

Manipuri

As it name suggests, Manipuri is originated in the ethereal state of Manipur, one of the seven sisters in the eastern side of India. It is also known as Raas Leela in some parts of the country, for its  culture fusion between various local folk dance forms. It is a dance drama for most parts, with dresses like none other. it mainly consists of the torso working arduously and the legs no moving that much, with flowy, graceful and fluid movements, it’s beauty just reflects the state it comes from.

this is it for today!

next up, we have the following dances left, I’ll also add a special segment about little details on Natyashastra.

Kuchipudi

Odissi

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