8 Classical Dances of India - KNT Diary

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

8 Classical Dances of India


Indian Dances at the International Buddhist Conclave, New Delhi, Aurangabad, Bodhgaya, Rajgir (and Varanasi) 23-26 August 2018.

Dance is an ancient and celebrated cultural tradition in India. 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. Folk dances abound all across the country, and huge crowds of people can be found dancing at festivals and weddings. Dance and song features heavily in Indian cinema (so-called “Bollywood” films), too. 

Sangeet Natak Akademi, the national academy for performing arts in India, recognizes eight traditional dances as Indian classical dances. These have roots in the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra, and the religious performance arts of Hinduism. Here are eight of the most important classical dance forms of India.

Bharatanatyam



Bharatanatyam
Dating back to 1000 BC, barathanatyam is a classical dance from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, practiced predominantly in modern times by women. The dance is usually accompanied by classical Carnatic music. Bharatnatyam is a major genre of Indian classical dance that originated in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu and neighboring regions. Traditionally, Bharatanatyam has been a solo dance that was performed exclusively by women, and expressed Hindu religious themes and spiritual ideas, particularly of Shaivism, but also of Vaishnavism and Shaktism.
Bharatanatyam and other classical dances in India were ridiculed and suppressed during the colonial British Raj era. In the post-colonial period, it has grown to become the most popular classical Indian dance style in India and abroad, and is considered to be synonymous with Indian dance by many foreigners unaware of the diversity of dances and performance arts in Indian culture.

Kathakali


Kathakali
Kathakali (katha, “story”; kali, “performance”) is a highly stylized classical dance-drama form which originated from Kerala in the 17th century. This classical dance form is another "story play" genre of art, but one distinguished by its elaborately colorful make-up, costumes and face masks wearing actor-dancers, who have traditionally been all males.
Kathakali primarily developed as a Hindu performance art, performing plays and mythical legends related to Hinduism. While its origin are more recent, its roots are in temple and folk arts such as Kutiyattam and religious drama traceable to at least the 1st millennium CE. A Kathakali performance incorporates movements from the ancient martial arts and athletic traditions of south India. While linked to the temple dancing traditions such as KrishnanattamKutiyattam and others, Kathakali is different from these because unlike the older arts where the dancer-actor also had to be the vocal artist, Kathakali separated these roles allowing the dancer-actor to excel in and focus on choreography while the vocal artists focused on delivering their lines.

Kathak


Kathak
Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Katha meaning "story", and kathaka in Sanskrit means "he who tells a story", or "to do with stories". Kathak evolved during the Bhakti movement, particularly by incorporating childhood and amorous stories of Hindu god Krishna, as well as independently in the courts of north Indian kingdoms. It transitioned, adapted and integrated the tastes and Persian arts influence in the Mughal courts of the 16th and 17th century, was ridiculed and declined in the colonial British era, then was reborn as India gained independence.
Kathak is found in three distinct forms, named after the cities where the Kathak dance tradition evolved – Jaipur, Benares and Lucknow. Stylistically, the Kathak dance form emphasizes rhythmic foot movements, adorned with small bells (Ghungroo), the movement harmonized to the music, the legs and torso are generally straight, and the story is told through a developed vocabulary based on the gestures of arms and upper body movement, facial expressions, stage movements, bends and turns.

Kuchipudi


Kuchipudi
Kuchipudi classical dance originated in a village of Krishna district in modern era Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It has roots in antiquity and developed as a religious art linked to traveling bards, temples and spiritual beliefs, like all major classical dances of India. In its history, the Kuchipudi dancers were all males, typically Brahmins, who would play the roles of men and women in the story after dressing appropriately.
Modern Kuchipudi tradition believes that Tirtha Narayana Yati and his disciple an orphan named Siddhendra Yogi founded and systematized the art in the 17th century. Kuchipudi largely developed as a Hindu god Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition, and it is most closely related to Bhagavata Mela performance art found in Tamil Nadu, which itself has originated from Andhra Pradesh. The Kuchipudi performance includes pure dance (nritta), and expressive part of the performance (nritya), where rhythmic gestures as a sign language mime the play. Vocalists and musicians accompany the artist, and the tala and raga set to (Carnatic music). In modern productions, Kuchipudi dancers include men and women.

Odissi


Odissi
Odissi originated in the Hindu temples of Odisha – an eastern coastal state of India. Odissi, in its history, was performed predominantly by women, and expressed religious stories and spiritual ideas, particularly of Vaishnavism (Vishnu as Jagannath), but also of other traditions such as those related to Hindu gods Shiva and Surya, as well as Hindu goddesses (Shaktism). Odissi is traditionally a dance-drama genre of performance art, where the artist(s) and musicians play out a mythical story, a spiritual message or devotional poem from the Hindu texts, using symbolic costumes, body movement, abhinaya (expressions) and mudras (gestures and sign language) set out in ancient Sanskrit literature.

Sattriya


Sattriya
Sattriya is a classical dance-drama performance art with origins in the Krishna-centered Vaishnavism monasteries of Assam, and attributed to the 15th century Bhakti movement scholar and saint named Srimanta Sankardev. One-act plays of Sattriya are called Ankiya Nat, which combine the aesthetic and the religious through a ballad, dance and drama. The plays are usually performed in the dance community halls (namghar) of monastery temples (sattras). The themes played relate to Krishna and Radha, sometimes other Vishnu avatars such as Rama and Sita.

Manipuri


Manipuri
Manipuri, also known as Jagoi, is named after the region of its origin – Manipur, a state in northeastern India bordering with Myanmar (Burma). It is particularly known for its Hindu Vaishnavism themes, and performances of love-inspired dance drama of Radha-Krishna called Rass Lila. However, the dance is also performed to themes related to ShaivismShaktism and regional deities such as Umang Lai during Lai Haraoba. The Manipuri dance is a team performance, with its own unique costumes notably the Kumil (a barrel shaped, elegantly decorated skirt), aesthetics, conventions and repertoire. The Manipuri dance drama is, for most part, marked by a performance that is graceful, fluid, sinuous with greater emphasis on hand and upper body gestures.

Mohiniyattam


Mohiniyattam.
Mohiniyattam developed in the state of Kerala, gets its name from Mohini – the seductress avatar of Vishnu, who in Hindu mythology uses her charms to help the good prevail in a battle between good and evil. Mohiniyattam follows the Lasya style described in Natya Shastra, that is a dance which is delicate, with soft movements and feminine. It is traditionally a solo dance performed by women after extensive training. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam includes pure and expressive dance-drama performance, timed to sopana (slower melody) styled music, with recitation. The songs are typically in Malayalam-Sanskrit hybrid called Manipravala.

Source: Dance in India - Wikipedia, used under CC-BY-SA Licence, URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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