Thursday, March 01, 2012

Indian Dances

 The dance heritage of India is at least 5000 years old. A dancing girl figurine was found in the ruins of Mohenjodaro and is dated approximately 2nd Century B.C. Many group dancing sequences are depicted in exquisite rock paintings of Bhimbetaka caves of Madhya Pradesh
 Dance is a form of communication that brings out the inner most feelings and at the same time helps express what a civilization is all about. Indian Dances are all about connection of the mind with the soul. A dancer has to lead a very disciplined life. All the traditional dances still follow the rules set by Bharata Muni in his 'Natya Shastra'.
 The Indian Dance is one of the most well established arts and has been developing for nearly two thousand years!! The dances originated in the temples, where dancing was used to illustrate and depict various Hindu mythologies. The dances were performed by 'Devadasi's' or ladies who dedicated their life to the service of god. It is believed that the gods and goddesses not only appreciate dance but are great dancers as well! Over time, dances were used not only to express devotion to god, but also to portray one's emotion and state of mind.
India offers a number of classical dance forms, each one originating from a different part of the country. The most famous forms of classical dance are:

Classical Dances


1. Bharatnatyam

Origin:  Tamil Nadu
Dress:  Traditional costume has 3 fans of unequal length ( cascading between the legs)
Notes:  Considered to be the “fire dance” – where the dancer’s movements mimic a dancing flame; soft and sculptured poses; accompanied by Carnatic music, it is considered a devotional dance – the embodiment of music in visual form

2. Odissi

Origin:  Orissa
Dress:  The head piece (mahkoot) is unique to Odissi dance.  Dancers typically wear their hair in a bun and the headpiece consists of a flower-decorated backpiece as well as a longer piece that rises above the crown.  An elaborate silver belt is also worn.
Notes:  The concept of Tribhangi is a signature feature – it divides the body into 3 parts (head, chest and pelvis) and there are independent movements of these parts; accompanied by Odissi music

3. Kuchipudi

Origin:  Andhra Pradesh
Dress:  A single, long center pleat (between the legs); also has a katcham at the back and many times a side pleat
Notes:  More rounded poses as compared with Bharatanatyam; brisk movements; the Tarangam (where the dancer dances with feet set in a brass plate) is unique to Kuchipudi

4. Mohiniattam

Origin:  Kerala
Dress:  White with gold brocade border; sari appears more skirted
Notes:  Mohiniattam litterly means “dance of the enchantress;” subtle gestures and sensual, coy eye movements; typcially performed as a solo recital by a woman; accompanied by vocal music, with lyrics being a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam

5. Manipuri

Origin:  Manipur
Dress:  A tubular lehenga layered with a transparent silk pasuan, along with a transparent odhini through which the dancer’s facial expressions can easily be seen.
Notes:  The raslila (where Lord Krishna dances with Radha) is a central theme; delicate rounded movements where the dancers feet do not strike the ground hard; no ghungroos (ankle bells) are worn
6. Kathakali

Origin:  Kerala
Dress:  Very large, heavy and elaborate, accompanied by painting of the face; there are 4 basic divisions:  Heros (characterized by green makeup), Villains (green face with streaks of red on the cheeks, or red or black faces), Females (basic pink or yellow makeup – no mask) and Superhumans (like Hunuman – may have a white beard).
Notes:  Kathakali literally means story-play or dance-drama; primary purpose is to narrate a story; the characters themselves never speak, but the perfomance is danced to musical compositions containin dialouge and narration

7. Kathak

Origin:  North India
Dress:  There are 2 kinds of costumes:  a traditional lehenga-choli and a Mughal anarkali-style with a long skrited top and fitted chudidaar.
Notes:  Origins can be traced back to Kathaks (nomadic storytellers); dancer directly addressed the audience; slow and subtle movements along with vigorous footwork and pirouettes; performance starts off slow and progresses to a fast tempo, ending in a dramatic climax; 3 main gharanas (schools):  Jaipur, Lucknow and Benaras

Folk Dances 

India also has a number of folk dances, performed by ordinary people and tribal people.

1.Bathakamma - A folk dance of Andhra Pradesh.
2. Bihu - Bihu is a folk dance from Assam. It is a very brisk and aggressive dance performed by both boys and girls.
3. Bagurumba - This is a folk dance from Assam. It is performed by the Bodos and is known for its colourful attire.
4. Bhangra - This is a folk dance from the Northwest Indian state of Punjab. It is a lively, powerful dance.
5. Chah Baganar Jumur Nach - This is a Dance from Assam. It is a dance of the tea garden.  
6. Changu - The changu dance is a folk dance found in Odissa and Andhra Pradesh. It derives its name from the changu, which is a simple tambourine (daf)  that is used to accompany this dance.
7.Dandaria - A folk dance of Andhra Pradesh.
8. Dasakathia - This is a folk theatre of Odissa. It is performed by a pair of performers who entertain the audience with dance, songs, and stories.
9. Dhamal - A folk dance of Andhra Pradesh.
10. Gair - This is a dance of Rajasthan. It is performed by groups of dancers moving in and out with an almost military precision.
11.Garba - This is a folk dance from Gujarat. It is traditionally danced at marriages and during the time of Navaratri.
12. Geendad - This is a folk dance of Rajasthan. It is very similar to the Gair.
13.  Ghoomar - This is a folk dance of Rajasthan. It derives its name from its characteristic pirouettes.
14.  Ghanta Patua - This is a folk dance of Odissa. Its name is derived from the large brass gongs known as ghanta. It is performed in the Hindu month of Chaitra. This dance is most notable because it is performed on stilts
15. Gobbi - A folk dance of Andhra Pradesh.
16. Jhoomar - This is a dance of the Mundas and Mahantas of Odissa.
17.  Kacchhi Ghodhi - This is a folk dance of Rajasthan that is performed with a dummy horse.
18.  Kandhei - (see Sakhi Nata)
 19. Kavadi - This is a folk dance of Tamil Nadu. It is played with a wooden pole upon which are tied two pots. The stick is then balanced upon the shoulder.
 20. Karagam - This is a folk dance of Tamil Nadu. It is played with a pot balanced on the head.
21.  Kela Keluni - This is a dance performed by the Kelas of Odissa.
22.  Mathuri - A folk dance of Andhra Pradesh.
 23. Raas - This is a folk dance from Gujarat. It is traditionally danced at marriages and during the time of Navaratri.
24.Sakhi Nata - This is the puppet dance of Odissa.
 25.Terahtali - This is a folk dance of Rajasthan. It is performed by women while they are seated.
26.  Therukoothu - This is a folk theatre from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
27.  Yaksha Gana - This is a folk theatre from the south Indian state of Karnatika.

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