KALBELIA- RAJASTHAN

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Kalbelia Dance, Rajasthan, India

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Considered to be an extremely “sensuous” is a dance form in India known as Kalbelia. This “opulent folk dance” has originated from the state of Rajasthan and is actually performed by a tribal community called Kalbelia or Kabeliya. This dance style is performed mainly by women with men composing the music. In addition, the movements of this dance form resemble the manner in which “a serpent moves”. Furthermore, this dance form has been developed by a community (Kalbelia) that is basically deeply involved in “snake catching and venom trading”.

a. History/origin of Kalbelia:

Historically speaking, this dance form is supposed have developed under the tutelage of the 12th disciple of Guru Gorakshanath. Furthermore, it is said that it was a tribal community called “Kalbelia” who were known to be “snake catchers” that developed this dance form further.

b. Costumes used in the Kalbelia:

The performers (i.e. dancers) are mainly female and their costume include a flowing black skirt known as “Lehanga”, a “Angrakhi” i.e. a cloth that covers the upper body, and a “Odhini” i.e. a cloth that covers the head.  In addition, the entire costume set used during a performance consists of beautiful embroidery possessing shades of red as well as black colour.

c. Music used in the Kalbelia:

The music for this folk dance is mainly composed by men. There are a number of instruments used, and they are as follows:

  1. A Pungi: An instrument that can be basically described as a “woodwind instrument”. It is also very commonly used to first attract and then capture snakes.
  2. A dufli: This instrument is essentially a type of a drum.
  3. A Kanjira: Yet another type of a drum.
  4. A Morsing: Basically a wind percussion instrument.
  5. A Dholak: A type of a drum that possesses two heads.

 d. Training availability and the dance technique involved in Kalbelia:

The dance technique involved in this extremely “sensual dance” includes mainly swirling graceful body movements. It is this “swirling movement” that makes this dance extremely sensuous as well as pleasing to the eyes. In terms of training, there are unfortunately no schools/centres that are available in the state as well as the country, since this dance form has been passed from one generation to another orally.

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