Indian Culture - Classical Dances
India is a land of diversities. People of diverse faiths and religions bind together in a great melting pot to form one colourful mosaic. In all spheres of Indian life diversities are clearly visible. These diversities have made the Indian culture a unique one. Like all other aspects of life, the dance forms of India are also varied and different. There are many types of dance forms in India, which are broadly divided into:
The Classical dances of India are usually spiritual in content. There are numerous classical dance forms in India. Each dance form can be traced to different parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people. The most popular Classical Dance forms of India are:
Bharatnatyam: Bharatnatyam is one of the most popular classical dances of India. It is more popular in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Bharatnatyam dance is almost 2000 years old. It is believed that Bharatnatyam was revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage who then codified this sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called Natya Shastra.
Kathak: Kathak is said to be derived from the word 'katha', meaning 'the art of story telling'. It is one of the most important Classical Dances of India. The Kathak dance form originated in North India and was very similar to Bharatnatyam dance form. Lucknow, Banaras and Jaipur are recognized as the three schools, or gharanas, where this art was born and where the aspects were refined to a high standard.
Kathakali: Kathakali is the classical dance form of Kerala and is known for its heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes. In Kerala and some other South Indian states Kathakali performance is a major social event, which starts at dusk and continues all through the night. In Kathakali emphasis is given more on aharya abhinaya, the use of costumes, ornaments and facial make-up.
Kuchipudi: Kuchipudi, a pre-eminent Indian Classical Dance form, derives its name from the Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh. It evolved as a religious art rooting back to the age-old Hindu Sanskrit text ‘Natya Shastra’ and connects traditionally with temples, spiritual faiths and travelling bards. Kuchipudi exhibits scenes from the Hindu Epics, legends and mythological tales through a combination of music, dance and acting.
Manipuri: Manipuri dance is indigenous to Manipur, the North-Eastern state of India. The Manipuri dance form is mostly ritualistic and draws heavily from the rich culture of the state of the Manipur. This dance form is entirely religious and aims at gaining spiritual experience.
Odissi: Odissi is one of the famous classical Indian dance from Orissa state. The history of Odissi dance is almost two thousand years old. The rulers of this region built magnificent temples, which became the center of art and culture. It was around these temples that Odissi was born, nurtured and Nourished.