The classical dance forms which have devel-
oped, have set rules that have been followed
traditionally over the years.
On the basic model, various gurus incorporate
their own imaginative innovations, leading to
various schools within a particular dance form.
Apart from the gracious hand & leg postures
& movements, the dancers have to acquire the
skill of portraying various emotions faithfully
in each expression on their face & each fluid
movement of their hand, legs & in fact their
whole body. Every part conveys some meaning
in their graceful motion.
Kathakali originated in the state of Kerala.
It is noted for the attractive make-up of
characters, elaborate costumes, detailed
gestures and well-defined body move-
ments presented in tune with the anchor
playback music and complementary per-
cussion. It is considered to be a combina-
tion of five elements of fine art:
Expressions (Natyam, the compo-
nent with emphasis on facial expres-
sions), Dance (Nritham, the component
of dance), Enactment (Nrithyam, the
element of drama with emphasis on
“mudras”, which are hand gestures), Song/
vocal accompaniment (Geetha), Instru-
ment accompaniment (Vadyam)
Bharata Natyam is a classical dance
form originating in Tamil Nadu.It has its
inspirations from the sculptures of the
ancient temple of Chidambaram.
Bharata Natyam comes from the words
Bhava (Expression), Raga (Music), Tala
(Rhythm) and Natya (Classic Indian
It is considered to be a ‘fire dance.’ It
is one of the five major styles (one for
each element) that include Odissi (ele-
ment of water), Mohiniattam (element
of air), Kuchipudi (element of earth) and
Kathakali (element of sky).
Manipuri dance originated from Manipur.
The traditional Manipuri dance style
embodies delicate, lyrical and graceful
The aim is to make rounded move-
ments and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or
straight lines. It is this which gives Ma-
nipuri gives Manipuri dance its undulat-
ing and soft appearance.
Manipuri dancers do not wear ankle
bells to accentuate the beats tapped out
by the feet, in contrast with other Indian
dance forms, and the dancers’ feet never
strike the ground hard.
Odissi originated from Orissa, in eastern
India. It is particularly distinguished from
other classical Indian dance forms by the
importance it places upon the tribhangi
(literally: three parts break), the independ-
ent movement of head, chest and pelvis,
and upon the basic square stance known
Like other Indian classical dance forms,
Odissi has two major facets: Nritta or
non-representational dance, in which or-
namental patterns are created using body
movements in space and time; and Abhi-
naya, or stylized mime in which symbolic
hand gestures and facial expressions are
used to interpret a story or theme.
The folk dances of any community are per-
formed on almost every special occasion
and festival, to express elation and joy. These
dances are also considered to be auspicious by
many of the tribal communities in the country.
Many folk dances are dedicated to the presid-
ing deity of the specific community.
The most interesting part of a folk dance is the
attire required for its performance. Every folk
dance has its own specific costume and jewelry,
which differs from dance to dance. They are, in
general, very bright and colorful, with tradi-
tional jewelries that give a folk touch to the
Siddi dhamal dance is a unique folk dance
form of India performed by the siddi com-
munity of Gujarat. According to some, the
ancestors of this community came from
Africa. For this reason there are some ele-
ments of African culture in this form.
The dance is more popular in the Sau-
rashtra and Rajpipla region of the state. In
this dance form the dancers dance with
two thin sticks exhibiting their art and
skill while dancing.
Also known as Mashira Nritya, in
olden days the dance was performed by
Siddis after returning from a successful
hunt of wild animals when they would be
overwhelmed with joy and in a state of
Yakshagana is a form of classical fork
theatre which originated from Karna-
taka. Literally Yakshagana means song or
‘gana’ sung by a Yaksha. Yakshas were an
exotic tribe who are mentioned in ancient
It is a product of Vaishava Bhakti
Movement. The origins of Yakshagana
can be traced as early as eleventh century
A.D.It is usually performed in the twilight
hours and is an amazing blend of Sanskrit
drama, songs that are folksy in origin and
the battles and acts of heroism from the
great epics of Mahabharata and Rama-
yana. The performers of Yakshagana wear
colorful masks during their performance
which turn their performance into a
visual delight for the viewers.
Kalbelia is the one of the most sensuous
dance forms of Rajasthan, performed by
the kalbelia tribe.
The main occupation of kalbelians
was catching snakes and trading snake
venom. Hence, the dance movements and
the costumes of their community bear a
resemblance to that of the serpents.
It is performed to celebrate any joyful
moment in the community. The Kalbelia
dancers wear long black skirts embroi-
dered with silver ribbons. As they spin in
a circle, their bodies sway acrobatically,
sinuously to the accompaniment of the
plaintive notes of the “been”, the wooden
instrument of the snake charmers.
Bhangra is a form of dance and music
that originated in the Punjab region. It
began as a folk dance conducted by Pun-
jabi Sikh farmers to celebrate the com-
ing of the harvest season. The specific
moves of bhangra reflect the manner in
which villagers farmed their land.
It is based on music from a Punjabi
folk drum, dhol, folk singing, a single-
stringed instrument called the iktar, the
tumbi and the chimta. The accompany-
ing songs are small couplets written in
the Punjabi language called bolis.
The rhythm serves as a common
thread that allows for easy commingling
between Punjabi folk and reggae.