India is a rich cultural country that adores and enjoys arts of all forms, be it language, cuisine or dance. Our country is brimming with cultural history ready to be explored. When it comes to the dance forms of India, we have classical, folk and tribal dance styles and all are simply marvellous in their own way. Today, let us talk about the classical dance forms of India.
Beautiful. Vibrant. Enchanting. These words rightly define the classical dance forms of India. These dance forms have existed in India since ancient times and are widely popular even today. Let us have a look at the 6 most popular classical dance forms of India.
Bharatanatyam - Tamil Nadu
Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest classical dance forms of India born in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is performed on the melodious tunes of Carnatic music and dates back to 1000 BCE. Considered as the mother of all dances, the origins of the Indian traditional dance Bharatanatyam originates from the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu performed by the women of the classical period. It is known for its mesmerising ‘mudras’ and focuses mainly on the hand gestures, leg movement and facial expressions of the dancer. Amongst the most respected cultural dances of India, Bharatanatyam is often used to express Hindu religious stories and devotions.
Enjoy one of the most artful dance forms of India Bharatanatyam here.
Manipuri - Manipur
The Indian traditional dance Manipuri can be rightly described as a spiritual experience. Originated in the northeastern state of Manipur, it is a religious dance form associated with rituals and traditional festivals. A Manipuri dance performance often depicts the romantic relationship between the Hindu God Radha-Krishna, fondly known as Raasleela with a whole team of dancers adorned in traditional Manipuri costumes and makeup to narrate tales. One of the most enchanting classical dance forms of India, it incorporates the Tandav and Lasya movements like Bharatanatyam and is distinguished by smooth and graceful movements. Considered one of the most delightful dance forms of India, a Manipuri dance performance is sometimes accompanied by narrative chanting and choral singing.
Treat yourself to one of the most beautiful cultural dances of India, Manipuri here.
Kathakali - Kerala
Kathakali is one of the most bewitching dance forms of India originated in the state of Kerala. An attractive and dramatic Indian traditional dance, it is a form of storytelling of the tales of Ramayana and Shiva Purana. The dance form of Kathakali is distinguished by graceful face movements and the heavy costumes which include the traditional face masks and body paints. One of the most renowned classical dance forms of India, it is generally performed by males, even for female roles. Kathakali is performed on music that includes just vocals called Soppanam. Initially, Kathakali dance performances would start in the evening and last through the night, but now it is performed with precision within a few hours.
Enjoy one of the most fascinating cultural dances of India, Kathakali here.
Odissi - Odisha
Originating from the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Odissi is one of the most bewitching cultural dances of India, predominantly performed by women. The traditional dance form originated from the Hindu temples in Odisha with mudras inspired by the sculptors and idols in the ancient Indian temples. The strong characteristic movements like stamping of the foot and exquisite sculptural poses, set apart Odissi from the other dance forms of India. It is performed as a way to express mythological tales of Hindu Gods accompanied by a mythical story in the form of a poem. One of the most expressive classical dance forms of India, Odissi includes more than 50 complex mudras.
Enjoy the Indian traditional dance Odissi here.
Kuchipudi - Andhra Pradesh
Kuchipudi is one of the most difficult classical dance forms of India hailing from Andhra Pradesh. It is not only an Indian traditional dance performance but also involves a religious procedure dedicated to God which includes certain rituals such as sprinkling the holy water, burning the incense sticks and praying to God. The Kuchipudi dances are based on the Hindi religion, mythology and spirituality with fluid, graceful and brisk movements. One of the most beautiful cultural dances of India, it requires the performer to sing and dance simultaneously, thus making it more difficult than any other dance form. Initially, Kuchipudi was performed by men but now it is mainly performed by women.
Enjoy one of the most hypnotising dance forms of India Kuchipudi here.
Kathak - Uttar Pradesh
Born in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Kathak is rightly termed as the Indian traditional dance of love. The name Kathak is derived from the word ‘Katha’ meaning story. A Kathak performance is dominated by the dancers narrating stories through their eyes and expressions. One of the most captivating cultural dances of India, it includes sinuous footwork accented by ‘ghungroo’ and beautiful gestures. Kathak is performed by both male and female dancers together and are referred to as ‘Kathakas’ or ‘Kathakar’. Though the dance form originated in Uttar Pradesh, it is performed in various parts of India including Jaipur, Benaras and Lucknow. The respected dancer Birju Maharaj is fondly called the ‘King Of Kathak.’
Enjoy one of the most elegant classical dance forms of India Kathak here.