Classical Dances of India
Classical dances are various styles of dance forms which are performed in sacred way which is generally story based on good and evil. These dances are in practice in different regions of India from ancient times. Details of various dance forms and its techniques can be traced down from the book “Natyashastra” written by sage Bharat Muni in ancient times.
The dances of India can be classified in two categories –
i) Classical Dances
The main classical dances with their origin places are described as follows –
i) Classical Dances of India : Bharatnatyam
It is one of the most popular classical dances of India. It originated from South India mostly from the region of present Tamil Nadu. It was originally performed by devdasis in the temples. This dance was patronized by Cholas, Pandyas, Nayaks, Vijaynagar rulers. The techniques of this dance consists of 64 principles of co-ordinated hand, foot, face and body movements. The dance starts with a slow tempo but gathers momentum and eventually there is very swift motion of hands, feet, body twists and facial expression.
The popular artists of Bharatnatyam are Bala Saraswati, Shanta Rao, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Kamala, Vijayantimala, Sonal man Singh, Samyukta Panigrahi and Rukhmini Devi.
The word Kathak roots to katha (or story). This dance form originated from North India mostly present Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the famous classical dances of north India. Its origin dates to ancient times when groups of priests went about reciting stories of Ramayan and Mahabharat using music and dance. It soon turned to dance-drama in which actors took part. There are three major schools or Gharanas from which practitioners draw their lineage – Benares, Lucknow and Jaipur.
The maestros of Kathak dance are – Sitara Devi, Birju Maharaj, Gopi Krishna, Binda din Maharaj, Kalkadin, Uma Sharma.
This dance form originated from Kerala in 17th century. This dance is noticed by dancers heavy costume, big head gears, fluffy skirts and silver nails. The artist generally gets the face colored. it is performed generally at temples during festivals. This is a dance drama which combines with music, poetry, mime and drama. The themes are taken from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The maestros of this dance are – Guru krishna Kutty, Kanak Rele and Raghvan.
It is classical dance which also originates from Kerala. The word Mohini means a maiden who attracts or fill desire on the onlooker. This format is similar to bharatnatyam. The movements are graceful like Odissi and the costumes are attractive. It is a solo dance.
The maestros of this dance are – Sunanda Nair, Jayaprabha Menon, Pallavi Krishnan, Gopika Verma, Vijayalakshmi and Radha Dutta.
This dance belongs to the northeast state of Manipur. It is purely a religious dance which is used to invoke divine blessings. It involves movement of head, hands and feet in complete harmony. Man and woman dance together in duet.
The maestros of this dance are – Guru Bipin Sinha, Jhaveri sisters and T Nadia Singh.
vi ) Odissi
It is a classical dance of Odisha. It is considered to be oldest form of classical dance dating back to pre-christian era. The characterstics of this dance is bhang (breaking) of human body with deflection of the head, torso and the hips.
The famous dancers of Odissi are – Aadya Kaktikar, Aditi Bandhopadhyay, Anita Babu, Arpita Venkatesh and Aruna Mohanty.
It is dance drama of Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi derives its name from a village Kuchelapuram. It closely resembles Bharatnatyam. However its movements are much faster and style is free.
Famous Kuchipudi dancers – Bhavana Reddy, Kaushalya Reddy, Raja and Radha Reddy and Yamini Reddy.