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Dances in India

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Dances in India

“Dance as if no one’s watching!”

Well in India, people believe in dancing while everyone is watching. Almost every happy occasion in India is marked with lots of shimmer, good food, nice drinks, music and ofcourse, Dance!

Dance and merry-making together go hand in hand. Dancing is not just a fun-filled activity here. It is a means to rejoice and celebrate as an important ingredient of Indian culture and its traditions. For some, it is just a casual hobby, while for some people it is a way to keep the body toned. For some talented souls, it is much more than just a hobby. They indulge into learning about Indian dance forms that present the most versatile of dancing styles.

India has always been a treasure trove of enormous dance talent. This is the place where dance has been considered as a medium of expressions, even in mythology. The Tandav by Lord Shiva is a form of dance that serves as a volcano of His enormous fury. There is a special place for dance in Indian culture. From classical to contemporary, the love for dance can very well be seen among dancing enthusiasts.

Dances of India

The Elegant - Indian Classical Dance

Indian dances bring about the expressions well with fine body gestures, facial expressions and poses. Various types of dance forms have been practiced here since ages. The charming mudras of a Kathak dancer have always allured the fiends on a hunt for pleasure and love for art. The sculpuresque postures of Bharatnatyam, the well-woven expressions of Kuchipudi form and the purely artistic exposition in Manipuri and Odissi dance types define the brilliant intricacies of Indian classical dance forms.

The Indian classical dance is based majorly on five elements which are represented by Baratnatyam (Fire), Kuchipudi (Earth), Mohiniattam (Air), Odissi (Water) and Kathakali (Sky).

Bharatnatyam is the popular form of Indian classical dance which presents dignity, devotion, mysticism and art through its graceful postures. It is known to have originated from ancient temples in Tamil Nadu as many sculptures of these temples indicate similar postures. Believed to be performed by Devdasis in ancient times, today the dance is performed both by male and female dancers. The dance is also known as Fire Dance as the movements of the body are like dancing flame.

Kuchipudi dance form which originated from Andhra Pradesh is attributed by fluid moves and is similar to Bharatnatyam. It is performed on Carnatic music. The dance is usually based on theme that shows the yearning of a devotee to unite with God.

Mohiniattam dance form evolved from Kerala that refers to ‘Mohini’ – the woman or enchantress who enchants everyone through ‘Attam’ – her poised and sensuous moves. The eye movement plays a very important part in the dance as it is used to enchant the audience.

Odissi dance, as the name indicates, originated from Odisha and is known to be the oldest of Indian Odissi Danceclassical dance forms. Odissi originated as a court dance but later it got its place in all the sacred sites starting from Lord Jagannath temple in Puri to Buddhist monasteries.

Kathakali dance form that evolved in Kerala distinguishes itself from others, through its reliance on heavy costumes, elaborate makeup and use of hand gestures. These dances are based on religiousness and are performed only by male dancers who play the female characters as well.

The Colorfully Fascinating Folk Dance Culture

India has a distinct folk life that comprises a wonderful array of colors. All these colors depict the huge diversity that India possesses. Every Indian state has its unique folk dance form. These folk dances present the rural life in a most beautiful and entertaining manner. The dance moves, the costumes, expressions, gestures in these dance forms explain all about the culture that includes the people, their background, their rituals and even the day today lives. The liveliness of Bhangra and Gidda depicts the carefree attitude of Punjabis, while the delicate Bihu group-dance moves show the bonding among the people there who work together for a great harvest. The Garba moves and colorful Ghaghras show how vibrant Gujarat is while the Koli dance of Maharashtra and Goa showcases the lifestyle of Machhuaras (fishermen). These dances are enjoyed most as you get to know about the colorfulness of Indian diversity in true sense.

Folk DanceEarlier they used to be performed in the streets and open grounds. But today, they are performed everywhere as they have grabbed enough of limelight. The most attractive part about these dances is the costumes and jewellery worn by the dancers. They may also hold props through which express themselves better. These dances are performed either to celebrate a festival or the harvest season, or even while worshipping God. The dancing circle of world-famed Dandiya has been getting bigger and bigger as people across the globe love being part of it. Even today, these dance forms are enjoyed among larger communities, despite the immense modernization of lifestyles, culture, thinking and attitudes.

The Modern, The Fusion, The Creative – Contemporary Form

The influence of modern dance is very evident among Indian dancers. There is no particular definition of contemporary dance form. It is rather, the blending of various other dance genres that include Salsa, Ballet, Jazz and Modern. It is the result of all the experimentations done with existing dance forms. Attributed by fluid movements of the body that give it a flow, the contemporary dance forms enthrall everyone who describe the dancers like this -

“As the feather-light bodied fairies fly in the air,
Their soft moves enchant with such finesse and flair”

These dance forms do not adhere to any particular move strictly. The dancers are infact, required to be at their creative and imaginative best.

There are mainly four approaches that a contemporary dancer needs to have. The first one is Cunnigham which is about establishing the rhythm by various body types. The second approach Graham focuses on the pelvic and abdominal flexing. Limon refers to the use of energy against the gravity while Release means maintaining the flow of body moves by means of using breath and energy in efficient way.

The Most Sought After - Bollywood Dance


Whether it is that beautiful pair in love romancing and grooving around the trees, or a solo hunk Indian Dancemoving his body and winning millions of female hearts, a female lead exhibiting her talent through a well-choreographed ‘item number’, Bollywood dance has always been most sought after. A majority of Indian population loves dancing Bollywood-style. Here, a particular dance move by the heartthrob Hrithik Roshan becomes epic for decades. Bollywood dances range from classical dance, casual, the earthy folk dance to contemporary, hip-hop, jazz and further innovative dance genres.

In modern day scenario, where the hunt for real dancing stars is on, more and more dance lovers are engaging themselves in Bollywood dance training. The ‘picturization’, genre and situation of the film matters a lot upon the way any dance is choreographed. In 60s and 70s, the cabarets performed as cameos by bold dancers like Helen, Zeenat Amaan and Parveen Babi became quite popular. Even today, these dances are mimicked by performers in grand occasions like award functions and weddings. 

Dance truly is an exemplary art that enables the person to reveal his various inner shades. It helps use the energy in positive ways like distressing, toning the body, increasing stamina and having that divine pleasure.

To learn more about dancers of India, click here
To pay a tribute to your favourite dancer, click here

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    Supriya from Allahabad 1385 Days ago

    I want to learn all the traditional dances of India. Is there any institute where each and every traditional dances are taught ?

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