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6 MAJOR INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCE FORMS

“A rich cultural heritage” is what is considered to be the USP (i.e. unique selling point) of India as a country. This (rich culture heritage) can be clearly seen via the diversity in the dance forms (i.e. classical and folk) available throughout the country. Now there are few dance styles that have been officially recognized as “classical” by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi. So here is presenting a list of six major classical Indian dance forms.

A. Bharatanatayam:

First developed during the 2nd century in the state of Tamil Nadu is a classical dance form performed mainly by women called Bharatanatayam. Historically speaking, the basics of this dance form have been embedded in a sacred ancient Sanskrit text called “Natya Shastra”. Furthermore, a “Bharatanatyam” dance performance involves a combination of complex feet movements as well use of hand gestures and facial expression (i.e. eyes and face muscles) accompanied by “Carnatic” music. In addition, this dance form (similar to other Indian classical dances) is essentially used to narrate popular mythological folklore.

B. Kathak:

Originating from North of India, and derived from the Sanskrit word “Katha” meaning “story” is a classical dance form known as “Kathak”. In addition, this classical dance comprises of three distinct styles that has developed over the years from three different cities namely Jaipur, Banaras, and Lucknow. Furthermore, this dance style is essentially based on fluid rhythmic foot movements, hand gestures, and facial expression. It is also said that this dance form has been passed on from one generation to another verbally. Apparently, it was during the British Raj that this dance form was made fun off, and a ban was imposed.

C. Kathakali:

Developed mainly in “temples” in the state of Kerala is an Indian classical dance form known as Kathakali. According to the cultural history of the state, this dance style first evolved during the 17th century from a form of theatre known as “Kuttiyattam”. Furthermore, a Kathakali performance basically consists of a combination of (like other classical Indian dance forms) feet movements, hand gestures, and facial expressions especially the use of the eyes. In addition, this dance form is also known renowned for extremely “colourful and flamboyant costumes” that includes elaborate makeup as well as facial masks.

D. Kuchipudi:

Created by a saint called “Tirtha Narayana Yati” and his disciple “Siddhendra Yogi” is a classical dance form that has originated from the Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh known as Kuchipudi. The root of this classical dance form like several others in India is deeply embedded in the ancient pious Sanskrit text called “Natya Shastra”. It also essentially revolves around two aspects i.e. feet movement and facial expression in unison with appropriate hand gestures. Furthermore, this form of classical Indian dancing (like the Bharatanatyam) also comprises of “Carnatic” music. In addition, this is also classical Indian dance form in which both males as well as females are permitted to perform.

E. Odissi:

Originating from the state Odisha located on the eastern coast of India is a traditional dance form called Odissi. This form of dance essentially combines “abhinaya” (expressions) and mudras (hand gestures and sign language). Furthermore, it also comprises of three basic dance positions i.e. Samabhanga, Abhanga, and Tribhanga. In addition, this dance also consists of three primary “Mudras/Hastas” (hand gestures) which include the Asamyukta Hasta, Samuykta Hasta, and Nrutya Hasta.

F. Manipuri:

Based on the “Raslila” (a dance-drama involving Lord Krishna and Radha) is a classical dance style known as Manipuri. This dance which has originated from Manipur, a state which is located in the northeast of the country is supposed have first come into existence during the early 18th century. Furthermore, this dance comprises of graceful body movements with the greater emphasis given to the use of the hand and upper body gestures. In addition, this dance form consists of unique costumes that include, a decorated long skirt known as “Kumil” worn by the female performer while, the male dancers wear an attire known as dhoti/dhotra, a pleated broadcloth which is usually tied around the waist.

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