Classical Dance forms of India are an important part of Indian art and culture. This is a very significant topic for UPSC, SSC, RRB, NTPC, and all other competitive exams. Often 2-3 questions are asked in different competitive exams, and the form of the dance and the name of the person concerned is often asked in the exam.
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Different dance styles have developed in different regions of India, each with its specific subtleties. However, all these Dance forms are governed by preliminary rules and guidelines In Natyashastra, the main rule is that the actual transfer of Knowledge can only come through a guru. Guru passes Knowledge of different traditions and communities Disciples This ‘guru-disciple tradition’ (‘guru-shisya parampara’) forms the core of India’s classical art form.
Aspects of Dance
• As per Natya Shastra, there are two basic aspects of Indian classical dance.
- Lasya – It refers to grace, bhava, rasa and abhinaya (acting). It symbolizes the feminine nature of dance as an art form.
- Tandava – It is symbolic of the male aspects of the dance and emphasizes rhythm and movement
Three basic elements of Abhinaya
According to Abhinaya Darpana, a famous treatise on dance written by Nandikeshwar, Abhinaya has been divided into three basic elements:
1. Nritta – It refers to the basic dance steps, performed rhythmically but without any expression or mood.
2. Natya – It means dramatic representations and refers to the story that is elaborated through the dance recital.
3. Nritya – Nritya refers to the sentiment and emotions evoked through dance.
9 Rasa of Classical Dance
|Sl.No||9 Rasas Classical Dance||Attributes|
|5||Shaant||Peace and Tranquility|
|6||Hasya||Laughter and Comedy|
Key Points about the dance forms of India
• Natya is an amalgamation of dance, drama, and music.
• Natya included__
- Pathya (words) from Rig Veda
- Abhinaya (gestures) from Yajur Veda
- Geet (music) from Sam Veda
- and Rasa (emotions) from Atharva Veda.
• The first formal mention of dance is found in Bharata Muni’s famous work Natya Shastra.
• Abhinaya Darpana’s famous treatise on dance, written by Nandikeshwara.
• Indian classical dance forms are based on the instruction of the book Natya Shastra.
Know about the Classical dance forms of India
Presently, As per Sangeet Natak Akademi, there are eight classical dance forms in India, namely___
8 Classical dance forms of India with respective states
|Sl.No||Classical Dance Forms||Place of Classical Dance|
|7||Kathak||North India (Uttar Pradesh)|
8 classical dance forms of India Map
Facts about the 8 classical dance forms of India
• Oldest among all classical dance forms.
• Bharatanatyam, previously called Sadhir Attam.
• In Bharatnatyam ‘Natyam’ means dance in Tamil.
• This dance form is often called ‘Fire Dance’. Because most of the movements in Bharatanatyam are look like dancing flame.
• It expresses South Indian religious themes and spiritual ideas, particularly Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism.
Famous personalities related to Bharatnatyam
• Yamini Krishnamurthy
• Lakshmi Viswanathan
• Padma Subramaniam
• Mrinalini Sarabhai
• Mallika Sarabhai
Kuchipudi Dance form
• Originally performed by a group of actors going from village to village, known as Kusselavas.
• Kuchipudi derives its name from the village of Kusselavapuri or Kuchelapuram in Andhra Pradesh.
• The tradition of Kuchipudi is systematized by Siddhendra Yogi.
• Most of the Kuchipudi themes are based on the stories of Bhagavat Purana.
• The Kuchipudi dancers came to be known as Bhagavathalus.
• Kuchipudi dance is generally accompanied by Carnatic music.
• Principle instruments used in this dance forms Violin and Mridangam.
• A unique feature of Kuchipudi is the tarangam, where the performer dances on the edge of a brass plate, skillfully performing intricate rhythmic patterns, sometimes balancing a water pot on his head.
Famous personalities related to Kuchipudi
• Radha Reddy
• Raja Reddy
• Yamini Krishnamurthy
• Indrani Rahman
Kathakali dance form
• ‘Katha’ means Story and ‘Kali’ means drama.
• It is closely related to Koodiyattam (Sanskrit drama tradition)
• Kathakali is usually performed by an all-male group.
• The language used for Kathakali songs is Manipravalam.
• Manipravalam language is a mixture of Malayalam and Sanskrit.
Famous personalities related to Kathakali
• Guru Kunchu Kurup
• Gopi Nath
• Kottakal Sivaraman
• Rita Ganguly
Mohiniattam dance form
• ‘Mohini’ means beautiful woman and ‘attam’ means dance.
• Solo dance performance by women.
• Mohiniattam narrates the story of the feminine dance of Vishnu.
Famous personalities related to Mohiniattam
• Sunanda Nair
• Kalamandalam Kshemavathy
• Madhuri Amma
• Jayaprabha Menon
Odissi dance form
• It was primarily practiced by the ‘maharis’ and patronized by the Jain King Kheravela.
• Earliest evidence of Odissi dance form provided by the caves of Udayagiri-Khandagiri.
• The dance form derives its name from the ‘Odra nritya’ mentioned in Natya Shastra.
• Similar to Bharatnatyam in the use of Mudras and postures to express emotions.
• Odissi dance is accompanied by Hindustani classical music.
• Main instruments used are Pakhawaj (Drums), Manjira, Sitar, Flute, etc.
• The dance form symbolizes the element of water.
Famous personalities related to Odissi
• Guru Pankaj Charan Das
• Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra
• Sonal Mansingh
Manipuri dance form
• Manipuri classical dance belongs to the state of Manipur. Krishna became the central theme of this dance form. It is performed generally by females.
• Rabindranath Tagore brought back the dance form into the limelight when he introduced it in Shantiniketan (Birbhum, West Bengal).
• Manipuri dance includes both classical and folk dance forms. Manipuri Ras Leela is one of the main forms of Indian classical dance. Hence the Manipuri dance, also known as Manipuri Ras Leela.
• And the Folk dance forms are mainly attributed to regional deities such as Umang Lai and performed during Lai Haraoba.
Famous personalities related to Manipur
• Guru Bipin Singha
• N Madhabi Devi
Kathak dance form
• Kathak is the classical dance of Uttar Pradesh.
• It originated in Uttar Pradesh and is considered an important dance form of the 8th form of classical dance.
• The classical style of Kathak was revived by Lady Leela Sokhey.
• Kathak is generally accompanied by dhrupad music.
• This dance form narrates the epic stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
• Kathak Training Institute Kathak Academy is located in Lucknow.
Famous Personalities related to Kathak
• Pandit Birju Maharaj
• Lacchu Maharaj
• Sitara Devi
• Damayanti Joshi
• Ravi Shankar Mishra
• Pandit Jai Kishan Maharaj
Sattriya dance form
• Introduced by the Vaishnava Saint Sankaradeva in the 15th century AD in Assam.
• The art form derives its name from the Vaishnava monasteries known as ‘Sattras.
• The dance form is based on the mythological story of Vishnu.
• The dance is generally performed by a groups of male monks known as ‘Bhokots.
• Main musical instruments used Khol, Manjira, and Flute.
Famous Personalities related to Sattriya
• Moniram Dutta
• Muktiyar Barbayan
• Dr. Maheswar Neog
• Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
• Ananda Mohan Bhagawati
About Sangeet Natak Akademi
• Sangeet Natak Akademi or The National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama is the national-level academy for performing arts set up by the Government of India.
• It was set up by the Indian education ministry on 31 May 1952.
• First chairman: Dr. P. V. Rajamannar. Dr. Rajendra Prasad
• Current Vice-Chairman: Aruna Sairam
• Headquarters of Sangeet Natak Akademi: Rabindra Bhawan, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi, India
Frequently Asked Questions about classical dance forms in India
Bharatnatyam (Tamil Nadu)
Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh)
Kathak (Uttar Pradesh)
Gaudiya Nritya (West Bengal)
• According to the Sangeet Natak Academy, there are 8 forms of classical dance in India.
• No, Both are classical dance forms of India, Kathak belongs to North India and Kathakali is performed in Kerala.
• The classical dance form Kathak belongs to North India especially Uttar Pradesh.
• At present, the Sangeet Natak Academy recognizes 8 types of classical dance in India.
Bharatnatyam (Tamil Nadu)
Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh)
Kathak (North India)
• Kathakali (classical dance form of Kerala ) is one of the hardest dance forms to learn and perform.
• The classical dance of Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam is the national dance of India.
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