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7 Indian Classical Dance Forms – Traditional Dance Styles and its Origin

Dance is an old and popular cultural practice in India. Folk dances or Indian Classical Dance Forms are popular across the nation. Large crowds like to dance during weddings and festivals. Music and dance is mandatory in Indian films (so-called “Bollywood” films) also. Where do Indian dance originate from? What are the differences? To sort it out for you, Here are the 7 Top Indian Classical Dance Forms.

1. Kathakali

Kathakali
Kathakali

It is a sacred Classical Dance Forms from Kerala. It has inspirations from the Ramayana as well as stories that originate from Shaiva tradition. Men and Boys normally perform Kathakali, even for the female role. Its costumes as well as makeup are particularly extravagant, with faces designed to appear like painted masks.

2. Bharatanatyam – Classical Dance Forms of India

Bharatanatyam
Bharatanatyam

It is one of the Indian Classical Dance Forms from Tamil Nadu in southern India. Bharatnatyam has its roots going all the way back to the Natyashastra. It is a classic written by the mythical priest Bharata. The dance was originally a ritual for ladies.

Bharatanatyam often is used to communicate Hindu religious tales and rituals. It was not often seen on stage prior to the beginning of the 20th century. The dance routines are with bending legs and feet to maintain a the rhythm. In various mudras or gestures hands are used to tell a story.

3. Manipuri

Manipuri
Manipuri

It is a dance that comes from Manipur in the northeastern region of India. Manipuri has roots in the state’s folk traditions and rituals. It typically portrays the story of Hindu god Krishna. In contrast to the other dances, which are more rhythmic, Manipuri has effortless and fluid moves. Female roles are particularly fluid in their hands and arms. Whereas the male characters tend to be more vigorous in their actions. People normally perform this dance with narrative chanting or vocal singing.

4. Kuchipudi – Classical Dance Forms of India

Kuchipudi
Kuchipudi

It is a dance style that requires skill in both singing and dancing. This dance originates from Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India. It is extremely popular in India. It has a formal dance-song introduction, sprinkles of holy water and burning incense, with invocations to goddesses. Initially Men were performing this dance including the female roles. However, now women perform most of its parts.

5. Kathak

Kathak
Kathak

It is dance form from Northern India. It is an expression of love. Men and Women can both perform Kathak dance. The choreography includes intricate footwork that is accentuated by bells placed around the ankles, and styled gestures that mimic normal body speech. Credit for the creation of this dance form goes to Kathak professional storytellers. They utilized the combination of song, dance, and drama. Similar to other Indian Classical Dance Forms, it also started as the dance of temples. However, it soon moved into the courts of the ruling houses.

6. Odissi

Odissi
Odissi

It is a dance that is native to Orissa in the eastern region of India. It is primarily an Indian Classical Dance  Forms for women, and has postures that are similar to those seen on temple statues. Based on archeological evidence, Odissi is one of the oldest among the remaining Indian Classical Dance Forms. Odissi is an extremely intricate and expressive dance featuring more than fifty mudras (symbolic hand gestures).

7. Mohiniyattam – Indian Classical Dance Forms

Mohiniyattam
Mohiniyattam

It is the most popular dance form in Kerala within South India. The origins and popularity of this classical dance form is close to the legendary Tamil dancing master Vadivelu which was among the Thanjavur Quartets. One of the 7 Indian traditional dance styles, it is a graceful dance to observe and females do solo performances.

The word Mohiniyattam is combination of two words mohini and attam.  Mohini is the female and attam, refers to beautiful and sensuous movements of the body. So, the word Mohiniyattam literally means dance of the enchantress.

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