Indian Classical and Folk Dances


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A presentation on classical and folk dances in Indian culture by Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani for the CCRT workshop on Introducing culture in the curriculum organised by Pondicherry Education Department for teachers in schools. July 30th 2013.

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Indian Classical and Folk Dances

  1. 1. CLASSICAL & FOLK DANCES IN INDIAN CULTURE Palkalai Chemmal, Yogacharya Dr. ANANDA BALAYOGI BHAVANANI MBBS, ADY, DSM, DPC, PGDFH, PGDY, FIAY, MD (AM) Chairman & Hereditary Trustee Yoganjali Natyalayam & ICYER, Pondicherry
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION  Dance in India comprises the varied styles of dances and as with other aspects of Indian culture, different forms of dances originated in different parts of India, developed according to the local traditions and also imbibed elements from other parts of the country.  These dance forms emerged from Indian traditions, epics and historical-mythology.
  3. 3. INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCES Sangeet Natak Akademi, recognizes EIGHT distinctive traditional dances as Indian Classical Dances. These are:  Bharatanatyam- TN  Kathak- UP  Kathakali- Kerala  Kuchipudi- AP  Manipuri-Manipur  Mohiniyattam - Kerala  Odissi –Odisha  Sattriya -Assam
  4. 4. OTHERS…  Folk dances are numerous in number and style, and vary according to the local tradition of the respective state, ethnic or geographic regions.  Contemporary dances include refined and experimental fusions of classical, folk and Western forms.  In modern times, the presentation of Indian dance styles in films (Bollywood dancing) has exposed the range of dance in India to a global audience.
  5. 5. HISTORY AND MYTHOLOGY  In India all forms of art have a sacred origin and the inner experience of the soul finds its highest expression in music and dance.  Lord Shiva as Nataraja is its manifesting principle.  Shiva manifests Tandava (masculine form)  Parvati manifests Lasya (feminine form).  Natya Shastra and Abhinaya Darpana tells us that, Lord Brahma created dance upon request of the Gods and it became known as the fifth Veda, open to all, irrespective of caste and
  6. 6. CREATION OF NATYA VEDA  Prior to the creation of the Natya Veda, Brahma entered a Yogic trance and..  He drew literature from the Rig Veda,  Song from the Sama Veda,  Abhinaya or expression from the Yajur Veda and  Rasa or aesthetic experience from Atharva Veda.  These aspects are the four main constituents of the Natya Veda.
  7. 7. SIGNIFICANCE OF NATARAJA  Dance of Shiva is the dance of life as it represents all functions of Shiva as the creator, preserver and destroyer.  Abhaya & varadha hastham instill courage and bless with benevolence  Damaru & agni hastam represent creation & dissolution.  The upraised left foot represents blessing bestowed by the Lord and under the right foot is Muyalagan, which signifies triumph over ego.
  8. 8. FOLK DANCES OF INDIA  Significant in rural areas as an expression of daily work and rituals of village communities.  Have their roots in religious and seasonal festivals.  They are mostly performed in groups.  Every state has its own folk dance forms like  Kolattam, khummi, pambattam, puliattam, karagattam, oyilattam, bommalattam, poikal kudirai attam and theru koothu in Tamil Nadu;  Bedara Vesha & dollu kunitha in Karnataka;
  9. 9.  Garba, gagari & ghodakhund in Gujarat;  Kalbelia, ghoomar & rasiya in Rajasthan;  Neyopa & bacha nagma in Jammu and Kashmir;  Bhangra & giddha in Punjab;  Bihu dance in Assam;  Chau, goti pua & ghumura in Odisha;  Lavani in Maharastra  and likewise for each state and smaller regions in it.
  11. 11. YAKSHAGANA - A FORM OF OPERA  A classical dance drama popular in Karnataka. Traditionally start late and run all night.  Has music, songs, dance, acting, dialogue & unique costumes.  The tala patterns are similar to classical forms while acting & dialogues are created spontaneously on stage.  This combination of classical & folk elements makes it unique.
  12. 12. BHARATANATYAM  Seamless blend of nritta & nritya (natyam)  Nritta is rhythmic movement of the body in dance. It does not express any emotion.  Nritya comprises Abhinaya, depicting Rasa (sentimental) and Bhava (mood) expressed through the eyes, hands and facial movements. BH, RA, TA = Bhava – Raaga - Taala
  13. 13. ABHINAYA
  14. 14.  “Abhi” means “towards” – with the root “Ni” meaning “to lead”- (audience and performer) towards a particular state of being or feeling.  Four aspects namely:  Aangika: expression through body (sharira), face (mukha) and movement (cheshta).  Vachika: through words, literature and drama;  Aahaarya: through decorations of make-up, jewellery & costumes  Saathvika: acting out and manifesting different state of the mind & feelings.
  15. 15. “angikam bhuvanam yasya vachicam sarva vangmayam aharyam chandra taradi tam vande satvikam shivam” We bow to Him the benevolent One, whose limbs are the world, whose song and poetry are the essence of all language, and who is adorned with the moon and the stars.
  16. 16. POSTURES - BHANGA There are four types of body depicted in Shilpa Shastra with artistic deviations of the body from the central erect position:  Abhanga: a slightly askew standing position.  Samabhanga : equal distribution of body limbs on a central line, whether standing or sitting.  Atibhanga: great bend with torso diagonally inclined and knees bent.  Tribhanga: triple bend with one hip raised, torso curved to opposite side and head tilted at an angle.
  17. 17. MUDRAS - GESTURES OF INTER, INTRA AND TRANSPERSONAL COMMUNICATION  Hastha Mudras - hand gestures are a very highly developed aspect of the art and are a science of communication with the Divine.  They mime meaning of songs, convey deeper feelings, bring out inherent qualities and invoke the Divine  Classified as  Asamyutha Hastha (single hand gestures)- 28 and  Samyutha Hastha (double hand gestures)- 24. Each Hastha has defined usage called Viniyoga
  18. 18. Asamyutha Hastha (Single Hand Gestures) pataka tripatakordhapataka kartareemukhaha mayurakyordhachandrashcha arala shukatundakaha mushtishcha shikarakyashcha kapitha katakamukhaha suchee chandrakala padmakosha sarpashirastata mrugasheersha simhamukho langulasolapadmakaha chaturo bramarashchiva hamsasyo hamsapakshakaha samdamsho mukulashchiva tamrachooda trishoolakaha
  19. 19. Samyutha Hastha (Double Hand Gestures) anjalishcha kapotashcha karkata swastikastatha dolahastha pushpaputaha utsanga shivalingakaha katakavardhanashchiva kartaree swatikastata shakata shankha chakrecha samputa pasha keelakau matsya koorma varahashcha garudonagabandakaha khatwa bherundakakhyashcha avahitastathivacha
  20. 20. NAVARASA- EVOKING THE NINE EMOTIONAL ATTITUDES  Shringara (erotic love),  Haasya (humour & laughter),  Karuna (compassion),  Roudra (anger), • Veera (heroism), • Bhaya (fearful terror), • Bheebatsa (disgust), • Adbhuta (awe) and • Shanta (peacefulness). • Emotional catharsis – cleansing negative aspects of emotions and sublimation for higher emotions of Divine Bhakti. • A type of psychological preventive therapy – helps develop positive emotional intelligence.
  21. 21. NATYA KARANAS  Part of the traditional Bharatanatyam repertoire.  108 Natya Karanas described in Natya Shastra.  Not only particular poses as is commonly believed, but also are cadences of movements.  Geometric shapes are created with Angas (limbs)  Evidence of Natya Karanas - sculptures and paintings in Gopuram walls, ceilings & courtyards of our ancient temples, especially in Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Tiruvannamalai
  22. 22.  Extensive research on Natyakaranas by Padmabhushan Dr Padma Subramaniyam.  In Pondicherry by Ammaji, Kalaimamani Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani through Yoganjali Natyalayam  Yoga Asanas that are similar include dhanura, chakra, vriksha, nataraja, trivikrama, ananda tandava, padma, siddha, kaka & vrishchikasana.  Yoganjali Natyalayam is restoring these acrobatic Karanas to classical Bharatanatyam performances and this is possible only by combining sustained Yogic discipline with training in classical dance from an early age.
  23. 23. BHARATANATYAM A PLAY OF SUBTLE ENERGIES  Yatho hasthastato dristhihi, yatho drishthasthato manaha, yatho manasthato bhaavo, yatho bhavasthato rasaha -Where hands go, eyes follow; where eyes go mind follows; where mind goes, there is created aesthetic expression of emotion and thus the essence is evoked.  Yoga teaches us –Where the mind goes, Prana flows!  When Prana flows, life manifests and emotion comes alive. This is indeed the intricate, inner link between the Pranamaya Kosha and our emotions!
  24. 24. CONCLUSION  Upon creating the Natyaveda, Brahma said, “This art is not merely for your pleasure, but shall teach men that the fruit of righteousness will be given to those who follow Dharma. The spirituality of this art shall be a restraint for the unruly, a discipline for the followers of rule. It will create wisdom in the ignorant, learning in scholars, afford sport to kings and endurance to the sorrow-stricken. This great art shall console and elevate the world”.  May we strive to keep the purity of our great cultural heritage intact through the great art of Natya that enables us to fulfill our Dharma in a most refined, pleasing, enjoyable, dignified, beautiful and joyful manner and attain that final union with the Supreme
  25. 25. REFERENCES  Bhavanani Meenakshi Devi. Yoga: One woman’s view. Satya Press, Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry. 1985  Coomaraswamy Ananda. The Mirror of Gesture: Being the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara. Munshiram Manoharlal. New Delhi.1997.  Gitananda Giri Swami. Mudras. Satya Press, Ananda Ashram, Pondichery.1975  Hinduism Today July 1992. Yogi Playwright Infusing Indian Theatre With More Atma and Altruism  Kothari Sunil. Bharata Natyam: Indian classical dance art. Marg Publications. 1979.  Ramanathan Leela. Moving sculpture, frozen dance. Sunday Herald, Deccan Herald, Sundays, January 18 and 25, 2004  Sudhakar Kanaka. Indian classical dancing: The therapeutic advantages. Sterling Publishers, New Delhi.1994      