What is Dance?—”Dance”…is something which can express our inner feelings in the best possible way to an audience. We dance in joy…& often in sorrow. Dance has many forms – technically, dance can be referred to as the movement of limbs in rhythm or to music expressing an idea or emotion. Dance may also be seen as a non-verbal communication between two human-beings.
Indian dance evolved from Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra (the text of dramaturgy).Although it mainly deals with drama but also, various dance forms are widely featured in the text. The various dance forms were developed over time but maintain the underlying principles mentioned in the text. Dance in India is called “Nritya-natya” where nritya means dance & natya means drama so, Indian dance is composed of drama i.e. expression without which it loses charm.
The most important feature of Indian dance is the use of Mudras and Rasas. Mudras are hand gestures which are used to express a vast array of emotions and experiences, like – nature, love, anger, sorrow ,hatred, joy & other human emotions. Rasas denote the primary emotional content of the moment being emoted by the dancer. The rasas are Sringaram – Attractiveness, Hāsyam Laughter, Raudram – Fury, Kāruṇyam – Compassion, Bībhatsam - Disgust, Bhayānakam - Horror, Vīram - Heroic mood & Adbhutam – Wonder.
Classical dance forms a major part of Indian dance. There are 8 primary forms of Indian classical dance.
Bharatnatyam: It is also called “Bharathanatyam” said to have originated in Tamil Nadu, South India. Long time back, the Devdasis used to perform these dances in the temples of Tamil Nadu. The three basic concepts of this dance are Bhava or expressions, Raga or hand gestures & Thaala or steps. Bharatnatyam dancers wear paijama and jacket of Kanchipuram silk and Banaras silk. The dancer wears a lot of ornaments of shining stones on neck, ears, hands, and head, jasmine garland in the hair and Nupur (foot-trinket) .The music of Bharatanatyam is based on Carnatic classical music.
Kathakali: Kathakali, a classical dance-drama of Kerala, South India originated from “Krishnanaattam”-a dance drama on the life and activities of Lord Krishna has a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. It literally means “story dance” where two individuals dressed up as a couple narrates a story ex: an episode of Mahabharata through facial expressions while dancing. It is considered to be the soul of Kerala. The main attraction of tourists lies therein. It has taken its place as one of the most important Indian cultural dance.
Kuchipudi: Kuchipudi originated from Andhra Pradesh it represents events from Hindu epics & mythological stories through dance dramas accompanied with music. Usually the Telegu language is used for this form of dance but at times Sanskrit is also used. Mostly, they are solo-female performances.
Manipuri: This is one of the major Indian forms of dance, originating from north-eastern India. It is the traditional dance of Manipur. It is mainly devotional in nature & the major two forms of dance are Ras Lila & Pung Cholom.Hindustani music instruments like kartals, mridang, shankh, harmonium and esraj are used for this dance style. Today, Manipuri is acknowledged as a classical dance form – of very high artistic and technical standards.
Kathak: Kathak form of dance belongs to North India. The word Kathak means “to tell a story”. This dance came from the institution of tawaif or the prostitutes of India during British era. But however, Kathak has taken its hold in a respectable corner of today’s independent India. Kathak consists of three major schools or gharanas – Jaipur, Lucknow, and the Benares gharanas.Bansuri(flute),Esraj,Harmonium,Ghungroo,Santur,Sarangi,Tabla,and Tanpura are the food for Kathak.
Mohiniyattam: Mohiniyattam, one of the dance forms of Kerala revolving around nine human emotions – love making, sympathy, cruel, joy, humor, wonder, courage, sorrow and fear. The dance is performed with these nine expressions along with hand gestures or mudras.It is quite similar to Bharatnatyam & Kuchipudi dance forms, but there are subtle differences as it gives more stress towards acting. It is considered to be the most ethnic form of Indian dance.
Odissi: The essence of the state of Odisha has been Odissi dance form. It is a highly ecstatic & sensuous form of Indian dance. The technique & the style of this form of dance are amorphous. Today Odissi is a well-established, codified classical dance which is considered to be the dance of love, delight, pure divinity – all rolled into one.
Sattriya: This form of devotional dance belongs to the state of Assam. The sattriya dance can be classified into two styles namely Paurashik Bhangi i.e Tandav or masculine style & Shtri bhangi i.e Lasya or feminine style. Due to lesser popularity in India, this dance does not share the same pedestal with other classical dances, but it is one of the most matured forms of art-dance in it.
India stands to be the homeland of dances but apart from her main stream of dances i.e. classical dances, there are folk styles like Chhau(Bihar), Gaur(M.P), Bihu(Assam), Bhangra-Gidha(Punjab), Dandiya(Gujarat),etc.
As a land of diversity, India has an overabundance of variety in all things “art &cultural”. India’s metropolitan cities, also shake hands with the western styles of dance – modern and classical. Hip-hop, Ball-room Dance,Breakdance,Krumping,Waltz,Tango,Salsa and Ballet are well accepted, and often fused with classical Indian styles to create new forms of expression. [Article View] : 2575