Classical Dances of India – Complete List

It is very important to know about the Classical dances of India. Questions from this topic have appeared in many competitive exams in General Awareness Category.

Classical Dances of India

List of Classical  Dances

Classical Dance Image States
Bharatanatyam   Tamil Nadu
Kathak   Northern and Western India
Kathakali   Kerala
Kuchipudi   Andhra Pradesh
Odissi   Odisha
Sattriya   Assam
Manipuri   Manipur
Mohiniyattam   Kerala

Some Interesting Facts of Classical Dances:

  • International Dance Day was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Council (CID, Conseil International de la Danse), a UNESCO partner NGO, and is celebrated yearly, on April 29.
  • Bharatanatyam is unique to the Dravidian culture of South India. Devdasis or temple dancers who were dedicated in service to the presiding deities used to perform Bharatanatyam in temples.
  • Mridangam, Veena, Flute, Violin, and Talam are some of the instruments used in Bharatanatyam performance.
  • Kathak is intermingled with the culture of North India. This classical dance form is associated with the recital art of storytelling. Kathak has been patronized in Banaras, Lucknow, and Jaipur.
  • The story of Radha and Krishna is the predominant theme of Kathak. Such instruments as Tabla, Pakhawaj, Harmonium, Sarengi, and Talam are used in Kathak performances.
  • Heavy makeup and colorful costume are the most amazing facets of Kathakali. As it is a group performance, each dancer wears a different makeup as per the role or character.
  • The dancer playing a noble hero or god wears green makeup on the face, while the dance playing a demon smears his face in green with red marks on the cheeks. Chenda, Cymbals, and Maddalam are the instruments used in Kathakali shows.
  • Kuchipudi has evolved from the Bhagavatmela tradition and differed from other Indian classical dance forms through the use of speech. This classical dance of India owes its origin to the Telugu Brahmins in Kuchelapuram Village, who were known for their expertise in staging the mythological legends through dance, drama, and music.
  • The Kuchipudi dance moves are faster than those of any other classical dance. It is performed to both the Carnatic music and the Hindustani Music.
  • The Sattriya dance form can be placed under 2 categories; Paurashik Bhangi, which is the masculine style and ‘Stri Bhangi’, which is the feminine style. Pat Silk saree is the most popular kind of saree used in this dance, which represents the locality through its various colorful motifs and designs.
  • There are various musical instruments used in this Sattriya dance, some of which include Khol (drum), Bahi (flute), Violin, Tanpura, Harmonium and Shankha (Conch Shell).
  • Odissi is the cultural pride of the state Orissa or Odisha. Nritya and Abhinaya are two most interesting highlights of Odissi. In Nritya, the dancers make delicate body movements to create ornamental moves.
  • In Abhinaya, the dancers make myriad facial expressions to interpret a religious story or mythical legend. Odissi is performed in multiple different styles including tribhangi.
  • Manipuri, a distinguished classical dance heritage of northeast India, since the time when the gods, as it is believed, dried a lake in the countryside of Manipur to make space for dance; this classical dance has been part of the socio-religious culture of the state.
  • Ras Leela and Sankirtana are the devotional themes of Manipuri dance. The Manipuri dancers wear colorfully embroidered skirts with a transparent embellished veil.
  • The word “Mohiniyattam” literally means “dance of the enchantress“. There are two stories of the Lord Vishnu disguised as a Mohini. In one, he appears as Mohini to lure the asuras away from the amrita (nectar of immortality) obtained during the churning of the palazhi (ocean of milk and salt water).
  • In the second story, Vishnu appears as Mohini to save Lord Shiva from the demon Bhasmasura. The costume includes white sari embroidered with bright golden brocade (known as kasavu) at the edges.
  • The Mohiniyattam dance follows the classical text of Hastha Lakshanadeepika, which has an elaborate description of mudras (gestural expressions by the hand palm and fingers).
  • The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in a rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics are in Manipravalam, a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam.

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