Considered to be responsible for the development of Marathi “folk theatre” is a dance form in India known as Lavani. This highly “rhythmic dance” has originated from the state of Maharashtra and is also performed in southern Madhya Pradesh and northern Karnataka. It is said that the word “Lavani” is derived from “Lavanya” which when literally translated means “beauty”. In addition, this dance form through the use of music essentially talks about socially relevant subject matters such religion, politics, and romance. Furthermore, this dance style possesses two distinct forms namely “Phadachi Lavani and Baithakichi Lavani”
a. History/origin of the Lavani:
The origin of this dance form is said to have its roots embedded in a poems written by a king Hala, who ruled the Deccan region in Maharashtra. These poems were supposed to have been presented in the form of an “anthology”. Furthermore, this dance style which essentially combined “song and dance” was created purely to motivate and provide entertainment to exhausted soldiers. In addition, a Lavani performance apart from the dancing also entails narrating stories linked to issues such as religion, love, and politics via song and music.
b. Costumes used in the Lavani:
Since the major performer in a Lavani is female the costume mainly used is a nine yard saree referred to as “nauvari” which is accompanied with heavy jewellery such as earrings, necklace, kamarpatta i.e. a belt tied to the waist, bangles etc. In terms of the hairstyle, the performer forms a juda/ambada i.e. a bun with the hair. Furthermore, a large dark red bindi on the forehead is also applied by the dancer.
c. Music used in the Lavani:
The music essentially composed for the Lavani is high on the rhythm. The instrument used mainly during the performance is the “Dholki” i.e. a form of a drum. Furthermore, apart from the rhythmic music this dance form is also known for its erotic lyrics and a sarcastic tone that highlights the prevalent socio-political circumstances in the society. In addition, the song sung during the performance comprises of a high tempo.
d. Training availability and the dance technique involved:
In terms of technique, the performers perform tend to gyrate to a high tempo music generated using a “Dholki”. In addition, to the high rhythm of the music and dance, the highly erotic and sarcastic lyrics that serves as a comment on the current socio-political situation adds a lot of colour to this dance form. As for learning this dance form, there are a number of schools throughout the state that provide basic training for all those interested in this “vibrant” dance form.