How many dance forms in india

15 Dances of India | Classical Dance Forms of India & States

India has many dances, coming from every state in the country, although there are only six forms of the classical dances recognised by India on a national level. They are Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, and Odissi. The folk dances of India are much more than mere body movements, from the very ancient times the classical dance forms of India is considered as a discipline and a way to devote yourself to God through art. 

Here are the 15 dance forms of India:

1. Bharatnatyam

Tamil Nadu, South India


Performed on the celestial tunes of the Carnatic music, Bharatnatyam comes from the state of Tamil Nadu in South. The origins of Bharatnatyam can be traced back to 1000 BC, and it originates from the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu performed by the women of the classical period. The dance form is known for its beautiful body movements and gestures which are called Mudras in the traditional language. It focuses on the hand gestures, leg movement and the facial expressions of the dancer. This dance form was very prevalent before the British era but was profoundly depressed during the colonial period. However, India kept the dance form alive in the houses, and today it is recognised as one of the most respectable art forms in India especially in the Southern region of the country where it is a moment of pride for the women of the house to learn the classical dance form of Bharatnatyam.

2. Kathak

Uttar Pradesh, North India


Coming from the northern part of the country from the state of Uttar Pradesh, Kathak comes from the word 'Katha' which means "story" in Hindi. It isn't a very smart guess for one to make that Kathak is performed in the form of storytelling through the body movements used by the dancer. Kathak is often referred to as the dance of love, and it can be performed by both by the male and female dancer together. This dance form focuses highly on the ankle movements complemented by the ankle that has to match the beats of the music. Ankle bells or gunghroos as they are called in the traditional language is an important part of the discipline of this dance form. Various distinctions can be witnessed in this dance forms as it is performed in various places in the country which includes Jaipur, Benaras, and Lucknow.


3. Kathakali

Kerala, South India


Kathakali is another traditional dance form of India which relates to the storytelling. Kathakali translates to the 'storyteller' in the country's language. Coming from the Southern region of the country from Kerala, Kathakali is one of the most renowned and religious dances forms of India. It originates from the tales of Ramayana and Shiva stories. Kathakali includes the intriguing face movements and the heavy costumes which include the traditional face masks and body paints (generally green). The music which includes only the vocals is called Soppanam. The storytelling of the epic Hindu mythology tales depicting both evil and good is shown through the conversation between the dancers only through their body gestures and facial expressions. Simply fascinating to watch!

4. Manipuri

Manipur, North East India


As you stroll towards the North-east India which is brimming with the rich tradition and their unique culture, Manipuri comes as an important symbol to represent the state of Manipur from the region. This dance form is performed to narrate the romantic relationship between the Hindu gods Radha and Krishna, which is famously known as RaasLeela. This art form is performed in a team with the traditional Manipuri costumes and makeup to narrate the tale of the two gods. The dance is performed on the narrative chanting and the music created by the Indian classical instruments.

5. Kuchipudi

Andhra Pradesh


Belonging to the Andhra Pradesh, Kuchipudi is probably the toughest form of classical dance in India. Kuchipudi is not just considered as the dance but a whole religious procedure dedicated to God which includes certain rituals such as sprinkling the holy water, burning the incense sticks and praying to God. Kuchipudi includes both singing and dancing by the performer which is why it requires both the skill and much more dedication than any other art forms in India. In the earlier period, Kuchipudi was only performed by the male dancers in the temples, specifically the Brahmins( Upper caste of the society) but with the passage of time, it became famous amongst the women and nowadays it is mostly performed by the female dancers.


6. Odissi

Odisha, East India


Odissi dance form comes from the state of Odisha in the eastern part of India. The traditional dance has been derived from the Hindu temples in Odisha. Most of the gestures and movements (Mudras) are inspired by the sculptors and idols belonging to the ancient temples of India. The dance is performed as a way to express the mythological tales of Hindu gods, including that of Shiva and Surya. The dance is accompanied by a mythical story, Hindi poem in the form of music by the musicians. Odissi is considered as the oldest dance forms of India which are surviving till today. Odissi dance is performed mostly by the women dancers, and it includes more than 50 intriguing mudras (body movements).

7. Bhangra/Gidda

Punjab, North India


Belonging to Punjab, Bhangra is a heart-pumping dance adorned with the loud beats of dhol( traditional Indian instrument). It is very prevalent in traditional Punjabi festivals.

8. Garba

Gujarat, West India


Garba comes from Gujarat which is a traditional dance form dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is performed in a couple on the typical Gujarati music, and the sticks are used to perform this art form.

9. Rouf

Kashmir, North India


Performed by the Kashmiri people to celebrate their festivals and important occasions, Rouf is a soothing dance form generally performed by the female dancers on the traditional Kashmiri music.

10. Ghoomar



Wearing heavy jewellery and the beautiful costumes you will find the people of Rajasthan dancing on the beats of music to give away their traditional dance form. Ghoomar includes the intriguing circular movements complemented by the hand gestures.

11. Chhau

Mayurbhanj, Odisha


The beautiful women dressed in the elegant attire performing the dance form of Chhau is what you see during the festival time in Kolkata. The popular art coming from eastern India is considered as the dance in the form of martial arts.

12. Bihu

Assam, North-east India

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Young men and women mostly perform this joyous folk dance from Assam during the Bihu festival. The dancers follow a pattern of rapid hand movement, quick steps and a rhythmic swaying of hips wearing the traditional Assamese clothing with beautiful accessories.  Marking the beginning of spring season, Bihu recites the happiness and heritage of Assam and is performed on the occasion of Rangali Bihu. The dhol, Xutuli, Toka, Baanhi, Gogona are the instruments used to play the traditional tunes for the performance. The origin of Bihu is not very known, although the records profoundly state that it is originated from the Bisu dance performed by communities of Upper Assam like the Sonowal Kacharis, Deoris, Moran, Chutias and Borahis. The dance form isn't just known in India but globally popular. This popular Indian Dance was performed at the London Olympics in 2012.



Maharashtra, West India


Originated from the state of the Maratha empire, Lavani is a dance form of Maharashtra. The female-oriented dance is a blend of traditional music and tales of deities. The origin of Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means beauty. Apart from helping in the upliftment of the Marathi folk theatre, the dance form was also a morale booster during the war in the 18th century. Lavani has two forms; One that's philosophical - Nirguni Lavani and the other that's sensual- Shringar Lavani. With the powerful and quick foot-tapping tempo, the dance form is performed along with the beats of the Dholak. The stories or subjects this dance is based on revolves around topics of religion, politics, society and mostly romance. Dancers are dressed in nine-yard of saree with golden jewellery. The dance was initially staged at local temples in the form of worship, but now it's a sensual dance performed to the pulsating beats rendering a socio-political satire.

14. Mohiniyattam

Kerala, South India


In Indian mythology, Mohini is the female avatar of Lord Vishnu, and the meaning of Attam in Malayalam is rhythmic motion hence adhering to the dance of the divine enchantress. It is the second most popular dance form of Kerala. This classical Indian dance form roots from the age-old Sanskrit text - Natya Shastra. It is traditionally performed by women following a repertoire of Carnatic music, singing and acting a play. At times, the song, a typical hybrid of Malayalam and Sanskrit also called Manipravalam, is sung by the performer herself. With a repertoire of instruments such a Mridangam, Madhalam, Flute, Idakka, Veena and Kuzhitalam; the music is rendered in ragas and performed in a slow melodic style. Although the Lasya dance is often portrayed as gentle, graceful and feminine, it also exhibits a vigorous dance of Tandava relating to Lord Shiva. Besides its popularity, the dance was ridiculed by a series of laws as a devadasi prostitution system during the colonial British Raj. A ban that was protested repealed in 1940 and with the help of the locals of Kerala, Mohiniyattam was revived and reconstructed.

15. Sattriya Dance

Assam, North East India


Mahapurusha Sankaradeva, a Vaishnava saint and reformer of Assam, introduced Sattriya dance in the 15th century AD. This dance form was preserved in the Sattras or the Vaishnava Maths; therefore, it remained a living tradition. This dance was an artistic way of presenting mythological teachings. Traditionally this dance was performed by the male monks or bhokots. However, today, the practice has changed in many ways. The theme is not just related to mythology, and the performances are not limited to the Sattras. Even women can perform Sattriya dance and on the stage. 

Origin of Indian Dance Forms

Indian dances can be traced back to ancient times. In the cave paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh, one can see dancing figures. The sculptures that date back to the Indus Valley Civilization also portray dancing figures. The text related to the origin of dance in India can be found in Natya Shastra, which was written by the sage Bharata. This text dates back to the 2nd century AD. In this text, the creation of dance is credited to Lord Brahma, who takes its knowledge from the four Vedas.

Other Dance Forms in India & Their States

Andhra Pradesh

Kolattam, Vilasini Natyam, Dhimsa

Arunachal Pradesh

Aji Lamu, Roppi, Phoning


Bagurumba, Ali Ai Ligang


Kajari, Jhumari


Dandari, Gendi, Panthi, Karma, Damkach


Mando, Talgari, Suvari, Dasarawadan, Kunbi, Fugadi


Raas, Bhavai, Tippani


Gugga, Khoria

Himachal Pradesh

Kullu Nati, Namgen, Hikat, Chham


Dumhal, Kud, Bhand Jashan




Krishna Parijatha, Nagamandala, Bhootha Aradhane


Kaikottikali, Thumbi Thullal

Madhya Pradesh

Karma, Gaur Maria, Kaksar, Ahiri


Pavri, Dhangari Gaja


Khamba Thoibi, Pung Cholom


Khuallam, Nongkrem


Cheraw, Khuallam


Changlo-Sua lua


Ghumura, Ruk Mar, Goti Pua




Kuccgi ghodi, Kalbelia, Bhavai, Sapera dance


Singhi Cham, Khukuri, Talachi

Tamil Nadu

Karagaattam, Mayil Attam, Kolaattam, Kummi, Kavadi


Garia, Hozagiri

Uttar Pradesh

Raaslila, Charkula


Barada Nati, Chapeli, Langvir

West Bengal

Gambhira, Kalikapatadi, Domni

It's downright astonishing to notice how many unique dances of India are hidden within each state of India. With endless varieties of cultural art forms adorned with traditions, dances reflect the cultural richness. Our nation is indeed united in diversity.

8 Indian Classical Dance Forms

India is a land which is rich in cultural diversity. Its people live a life filled with dance, music, delicacies and festivities. The country’s diversity is reflected in its varied cuisine, music and most importantly in the beautiful dance forms.

Classical dance forms of India, also known as Shastriya Nritya, come from the words, Shastriya meaning classical and Nritya meaning the act of dancing.

There are 8 classical dance forms in India. Let’s take a detailed look at each of these dance forms. Their names, history and origin are discussed in detail below.

Jump to Section

  • Bharatanatyam
    • Kathak
      • Odissi
        • Manipuri
          • Mohiniyattam 
            • Kuchipudi
              • Kathakali
                • Sattriya
                  • Different Types of Instruments Used
                  • FAQs
                  • State wise classical dance forms names


                  Originating from Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam dance style is an ancient and oldest classical dance form in India. Earlier its name was Sadhir Attam. Bharatanatyam is a temple dance and it tells stories from various Hindu scriptures. 


                  The beginning of Bharatanatyam

                  The foundations of Bharatanatyam are present in Natya Shastra, the ancient Sanskrit Hindu text about performing arts. Archaeologists estimate the first compilation of the text to be between 200 BCE and 200 CE.

                  Another historical reference of Bharatanatyam style is found in spics like Manimegali as well as Silappatikaram. written in the 6th and 2nd centuries, respectively. 

                  Furthermore, the carvings in Kanchipuram’s Shiva temple, suggest Bharatanatyam dance and style was developed as performance art by the first Millenium.

                  Modern authors as well as some colonial Indologists believe Bharatanatyam to be a descendant of ancient Devadasi culture, thus, suggesting its origin between 300 BCE and 300 CE. This belief is further strengthened by the depiction of the dance being performed by women in temple quarters in several historical scriptures. Throughout the 19th century, Bharatanatyam remained exclusive to Hindu temples. However, in the 20th century, it began appearing on stage outside temples. 

                  Bharatanatyam during the colonial era

                  With the arrival of British rule in the 19th century, many Indian dance forms, including Bharatanatyam were mocked and discouraged. Thus, these art forms declined. Furthermore, Christian missionaries presented the devadasis of south India as evidence of harlots and an erotic culture that must be stopped. In 1910, the Madras Presidency outlawed temple dancing, and with it, Bharatanatyam.

                  Bharatanatyam in the modern world

                  After India gained independence, Bharatanatyam rapidly expanded throughout all communities. Many people then began practising the dance which led to a number of schools offering lessons in Bharatanatyam. Now, there are four styles of Bharatnatyam, namely, Melathoor, Pandanalloor, Vazhavoor, as well as Kalashetra. 

                  Other Bharatanatyam lessons at learning Bharatanatyam online


                  The dance form Kathak originated from the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is a mix of worshipping deities and story narration. Grace, hand gestures and body pose as well as eye movements combine to make Kathak a graceful sight. 

                  A Kathak performance starts with a dancer offering respect to the guru and prayer to receive god’s blessing. Then the dancer moves on to the dance. The music that accompanies a Kathak performance uses different classical instruments like Sarangi Seeta, Manjira, Tabla, Harmonium, etc.


                  Kathak in ancient India

                  The roots of this dance form trace back to Natya Shastra, an ancient Hindu text written by musicologist Bharata Muni. The word Kathak comes from the Vedic Sanskrit word ‘Katha’ meaning ‘story’. Thus, Kathak refers to a person who tells stories through dance. 

                  With the arrival of Mughals in India, dancers began performing the ancient classical dance in Mughal courts. Although improvisations were made to amuse the Muslim audience, the performances still contained a subtle message like the love of Radha-Krishna. Soon, Central Asian, as well as Persian themes, became a part of the performances. Some of the changes include replacing a sari with a costume that bared midriff and the addition of a transparent veil. By the time the British arrived in India, Kathak had already gained popularity as court entertainment.

                  The decline of Kathak during British rule

                  The colonial rule saw the decline of various dance forms. Kathak was one of them. Additionally, the social stigma associated with Kathak and court entertainment, led to the launch of the anti-dance movement in 1982, thus, banning Kathak. 

                  Revival of Kathak

                  In the upheaval during the 19th century, many families made effort to keep this ancient dance from dying out. In the 20th century, Hindu and Muslim gharanas simultaneously participated in the revival of this dance form. Kalkaprasad Maharaj also played a key role in attracting international viewership of Kathak in the early 20th century.   

                  To learn in detail, read the following articles on 3 Kathak Styles as well as the 7 Kathak levels. Other Kathak lessons can be found at ‘learn Kathak online‘.



                  Originating from Odisha, this dance form like Bharatanatyam is also a temple dance form. Odissi is popular worldwide for its lyricism. The ‘bhakti bhava’ aspect, of an Odissi performance, is surreal.

                  Earlier performed at temples in Odisha, it later took to stage performances. The central theme of the dance form is Lord Jagannath’s worship and the costumes are symbolic of a message of Hindu mythology. The other themes of Odissi are inspired by the sun god, Vaishnavism, Shakti as well as Lord Shiva. 

                  History of Odissi

                  The origin of Odissi can be traced back to the 2nd century. Carvings of the Rani Gumpa caves in Udaygiri, Odisha beautifully portrays many poses as well as postures of the dance forms. 

                   In ancient temples, dancing girls or Maharis committed their lives to the worship of Lord Jagannath. However, young men, called Gotipuas, dressed in female attire bought the dance form to the public.  

                  During the Mughal rule, temple dancers were also employed to entertain the royal family in the royal courts. They soon became associated with concubinage and were not respected as servants to Lord Jagannath anymore. 

                   A further decline and degradation occurred during the British period, especially when the bill prohibiting temple dancing was passed. 

                  Post-Independence Odissi

                  With the help of many, including Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Odissi was revived as a classical dance form of India in 1955. The Odissi practised today is an attempt of reconstruction from the fragments of the Gotipua, Mahari, Bandhnritya as well as Chhau traditions.  

                  Learn all about Odissi Dance here


                  Manipuri Dance

                  Hailing from the state of Manipur, this dance form is based on the ‘Raasleela’ trope where Radha and Lord Krishna share a dance. As it desires inspiration from Lord Krishna, Manipuri is considered a religious dance form, which combines singing as well as dancing. Manipuri was further expanded by adding the theme of ‘Shaivism’ to it. 

                  Manipuri is generally performed during religious festivals and celebrations like weddings and portrays the spiritual values of Hinduism through dance. 

                  The female dancer dresses as a Manipuri bride while the male dancer wears a dhoti.

                  History of Manipuri

                  Manipuri dancers consider themselves to be the ‘Gandharvas’ mentioned in the Vedic texts. These individuals were dancers, singers as well as musicians associated with devas or the deities. Southeast Asian temples of the medieval period contain sculptures of Gandharvas as dancers. Finally, people credit Usha, the goddess mentioned in the Rig Veda, with creating the dance form and tutoring girls in it. 

                  Despite the texts of ancient Manipur slowly vanishing, the oral tradition of Manipuri, dates back to the early 18th century. Furthermore, the Chaitanya style of devotional Vaishnavism, which was adopted by King Gareeb Niwaz in 1717 was imbibed into the dance form. Manipuri advanced its dance tradition by including dance dramas based on Lord Rama in 1734. 

                  Manipuri during the colonial rule

                  When the British government annexed Manipur in 1891, the Manipuri dance art came under the clasp of colonial rule like other ancient Indian classical dance forms. Following this, in 1920 and 1950, many classical art revolutionists joined hands to revive this ancient dance form.



                  Combining dance, drama as well as rigorous footwork, Mohiniyattam is a classical dance native to Kerala. Its name comes from two words Mohini and aattam meaning the graceful body movements of a woman. Its literal translation means dance of the enchantress. Therefore, people regard Mohiniyattam as a highly graceful dance form performed by women.

                  The central theme of this dance form is devotion to God. Dancers express this through gentle body formations as well as movements. In addition, Mudras or hand gestures are important in Mohiniyattam. In addition, dancers adorn a white saree with a golden brocade, which is a highlight of the dance form.

                  History of Mohiniyattam

                  The history of Mohiniyattam is unclear. Kerala has a lengthy tradition of lasya style dances whose structure and basics may be at the root of Mohiniyattam. The earliest evidence of the dance form is the temples of Kerala. The Kidangur Subramanya temple and the 11th century Vishnu temple at Trikodithanam, are some examples of this. These temples contain several sculptures of dancers in Mohiniyattam poses. Furthermore, textual evidence from the 12th century suggests that Malayalam poets and playwrights included lasya in their themes. Vyavaharamala, the 16th-century text by Nambootiri contains the first known mention of the term Mohiniyattam.  Gosha Yatra, another text from the 17th century, also mentions the term. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Mohiniyattam grew as it received the patronage of several princely states.  

                  Mohiniyattam in the colonial era and post colonial era

                  The seductive gestures and expressions of Mohiniyattam dancers were caricatured in the book The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood, published at the start of the 20th century. Here, people perceived temple dancers as harlots and people began to disgrace age-old Indian culture as well as heritage. Although some women continued to practice Mohiniyattam after this, the dance form had more or less died out. 

                  In the 1930s, Mohiniyattam saw a revival due to the efforts of the nationalist Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon. He went against the ban on temple dancing as well as established the Kerala Kalamandalam dance school to encourage Mohiniyattam studies. 

                  Other pioneers of Mohiniyattam in the 20th century are Thankamony, Mukundraja, Krishna Panicker as well as Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma.


                  This Indian dance form gets its name from the Kuchipudi village in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Like other classical dance forms on this list, Kuchipudi is also a temple dance. 

                  A Kuchipudi performance begins much like a religious act, with water sprinkling, lighting incense and invoking god’s blessings. In addition to this, it is a magnificent dance form comprising 28 hand mudras or hand gestures.

                  History of Kuchipudi

                  Kuchipudi is a evry ancient dance form. In the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra, Bharata Muni describes the graceful Kuchipudi as Kaishiki vritti

                  10th-century copper inscriptions depict related to dance performances on Shaivism. Moreover, the dance-drama performance artists of this time were mainly Brahmins. 

                  In the late 13th century, Kuchipudi soared in popularity due to Ganga rulers from Kalinga. Their royal sponsorship enabled many poets as well as dance-drama troupes to practice the art form and they adopted Radha-Krishna themes into classical Kuchipudi. Furthermore, the devotees who practised this were known as Bhagavatulu in Andhra Pradesh.

                  The modernization of Kuchipudi

                  In the 17th century, a modern version of Kuchipudi was created. People credit Tirtha Narayanayati as well as his disciple, a Telugu Brahmin called Sidhyendra Yogi for its creation. Narayanayati introduced a series of rhythmic dance syllables at the end of the cantos. His disciple, Sidhyendra Yogi, wrote a play titled Parijatapaharana and hired young Brahmin men to perform in it. Sidhyendra put up the play once a year in the present village of Kuchipudi, thus giving the village its name. 

                  Kuchipudi in the Mughal period

                  Kuchipudi enjoyed support from various rulers. Copper inscriptions portray royalty viewing dance-drama performances for entertainment. Furthermore, court records of the Vijayanagara Empire indicate that drama-dance troupes performed Kuchipudi at the royal court. However, with the invasion of the Deccan Sultanates in the 16th century, many musicians as well as dance-drama artists migrated south and were welcomed by the Hindu king Achyutappa Nayak. As a result, these people formed settlements that grew to become the modern-day Melattur near Tanjore. 

                  Now, Kuchipudi was divided into two, those who moved near Tanjore and those who were its sole custodians in Andhra Pradesh. In the 16000s the Sultan of Golkonda, Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, granted land to all the Kuchipudi dancers, thus keeping the dance form alive in Andhra Pradesh.

                  Kuchipudi during colonial rule and its evolution after independence

                  After the ban on temple dances, Kuchipudi saw a revival during the 1920s due to the efforts of people like Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri. She worked closely to reconstruct and revive Kuchipudi performance art. Apart from her, Vempati Venkatanarayana Sastri and Chinta Venkataramayya also played an important part in the revival of the dance form. Additionally, people remember Sastri for teaching Indian women to dance Kuchipudi as solo and team performances. The historic All India Dance Seminar, organized by the national arts organization Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1958, thrust Kuchipudi to the national stage.

                  The latter half of the twentieth century was dominated by the Kuchipudi school of Vempati Chinna Satyam. His efforts to further modify the dance form earned him multiple awards, including the Padma Bhushan.


                  The dance drama, Kathakali originated in the 17th Century, Kerala. It is a blend of devotion, drama, music as well as dance. Most of the themes of Kathakali are inspired by Indian epics.

                  The makeup in Kathakali is very significant. The ‘Pacha’ or green facial makeup represents a noble character. While ‘Kathi’ and ‘Kari’ means a villain as well as a demon respectively. In addition, there are also three types of beards that are a part of Kathakali makeup. Furthermore, the music that accompanies this dance form is a rendition of drums and metal gongs.

                  History and evolution of Kathakali

                  The roots of Kathakali are unclear. People believe that the dance form is over 500 years old. Kathakali emerged as a performance art during the 16th and 17th centuries in Kerala, a coastal town in South India, where people spoke Malayalam. However, there is evidence that suggests that the dance form is some 1500 years old.

                  During colonial rule, like other dance forms, Kathakali had fallen into decline. However, in 1930 the Indian poet as well as public figure Vallathol founded the Kerala Mandalam School and initiated the revival of Kathakali.

                  Visit this lesson to learn more about the Kathakali Dance form.



                  This famous dance form is from Assam. There are several different forms of Sattriya such as Mati Akhara, Jhumura, Krishna Nritya, Nadubhangi, Gopi Prabesh, Gosain Prabesh, Chali, etc.

                  History of Sattriya

                  The history of dance in Assam traces back to ancient India, as depicted by copper plate inscriptions as well as sculptures. People credit the modern form of Sattriya to Sankaradeva, who organised the dance using the ancient texts in the 15th century. He bought in both drama, as well as expressive dancing into the traditional dance form as a way of communal devotion to Lord Krishna. In addition, he wrote and directed the dance dramas portraying the dance form along with his principal disciple. 

                  The Sangeet Natak Akademi finally recognized Sattriya Nritya as an official classical dance of India in 2000. 

                  Different Types of Instruments Used

                  Names of Instruments used in 8 classical dance forms

                  You can go through the following lesson, to learn more about Indian Classical Music Instruments.

                  For more such interesting articles, keep visiting Podium School Blog!

                  NameOrigin StatePerformance TypeInstruments
                  BharatanatyamTamil NaduDevotional dance formCymbals, Violin, Veena, Flute, Tanpura as well as Mridangam etc
                  KathakUttar PradeshStorytelling as well as narrationManjira, Sarangi, Harmonium, Tabla, etc.
                  OdissiOdishaTemple danceSitar, Violin, Cymbals, Mandala, Flute, Harmonium etc
                  ManipuriManipurReligious dancePung (Manipuri classical drum), Pena, Cymbals etc
                  MohiniyattamKeralaDance of the enchantressIdakka, Mridangam, Flute, Veena, Khuzitalam (Cymbals) etc
                  KuchipudiWest BengalTemple danceTambura, Mridangam, Flute, Veena, Cymbals
                  KathakaliKeralaDrama danceMaddalam, Chenda, Idakka
                  SattriyaAssamBallad, dance and dramaShakha (Conch), Harmonium, Tanpura, Violin, Khol, Bahi
                  State, performance type and instruments used in classical dance forms of India8 classical dance forms of India


                  1. Which is the most famous classical dance?

                  Bharatanatyam is the oldest and the most popular dance form in India. Male as well as female dancers perform this famous dance form all over the world.

                  2. How many Indian classical dance forms are there?

                  According to the Sangeet Natak Academy, there are 8 classical dance forms. However, India’s Ministry of Culture recognises 9 dance forms in India, Chhau being the 9th dance form.

                  3. Which is the principal classical dance form of northern India?

                  Kathak is the central dance form of northern India and is widely practised in several states. These include Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, as well as parts of eastern and western India.

                  4. Who is the God of Bharatanatyam?

                  Lord Shiva is considered the god of Bharatanatyam. 

                  5. Who are famous Dancers of Indian dance forms?

                  There have been several famous dancers practising each Indian classical Dance form. Some of them include;

                  1. Bharatanatyam – Hema Malini, Rukmini Devi, Sheema Kermani, Vyjayanthimala, etc.
                  2. Kathak – Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen, Lacchu Maharaj, Sambhu Maharaj, Gopi Krishna, etc.
                  3. Kathakali – Ramanakutty Nair, Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair etc.
                  4. Kuchipudi – V. Satyanarayana Sarma, Deepa Shashindran, Mallika Sarabhai, etc.
                  5. Odissi – Shobana Sahajananan, Sujata Mohapatra, Madhavi Mudgal, Surendra Nath Jena etc.
                  6. Mohiniyattam – Shobhana, Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, Thankamani, Kalamandalam Hymavathy etc.

                  6. What are the benefits of classical dance?

                  Kids must practice classical dance as they offer various benefits. 

                  1. For a balanced lifestyle
                  It aids in forming a connection between mind as well as body, thus, is beneficial for a healthy lifestyle.

                  2. Helps stay connected to one’s roots
                  These dance forms are a window into the rich culture and heritage of India. Therefore, practising classical dance keeps kids connected to the roots and traditions.

                  3. Helps build focus
                  Kids require immense focus to learn the unique postures in classical dance. Furthermore, they need to practice these postures on a regular basis. Thus, enhancing memory as well as sharpening the mind in the process.

                  4. To boost fitness
                  Practicing these dance forms is a great way to build both physical & mental fitness. These help to train head as well as limb coordination, thus exercising the body. 

                  7. Who is the God of Kathak?

                  Kathak performances are generally dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna and sometimes to Shiva or Devi.

                  8. Which is the toughest classical dance?

                  Kuchipudi is considered the toughest dance form. This is because it requires a whole lot of rituals, such as lighting incense sticks, sprinkling holy water as well as praying to god.

                  9. Where can you learn classical dance forms online?

                  Online dance classes are taught via Zoom or Skype by professional classical dancers with years of experience. Alternatively, you may opt for online videos on youtube to learn the basics of the dance form. However, to learn it efficiently, an experienced teacher is a must.

                  10. How many mudras or hand gestures are there in Bharatanatyam?

                  In Bharatanatyam, there are approximately fifty-five root mudras or hand gestures that are used to communicate specific events, actions, ideas or creatures during the performances.  

                  State wise classical dance forms names

                  State wise Indian classical dances

                  Kathak | Indian dances | India in Russian ~ living guide

                  Kathak, a classical dance form that originated in North India, has its origins in the art of storytelling, which was practiced exclusively by itinerant singers of ancient India. The article gives a general idea of ​​the development of this dance form.
                  Kathak, formed on the territory of the modern states Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan , originates from the art of storytelling, which was famous for the wandering singers of ancient India. They skillfully narrated the legends from the great epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata in a theatrical manner, using movement, rhythm, music and poetry. Delighting the eyes, telling, enlightening and entertaining, these itinerant singers, performing in the courtyards of temples and other public places, were an important factor in linking the various communities of the country into one cultural whole through their sermons and stories.
                  Over time, these stories, accompanied by mimetic gestures, as seen in the paintings of the 15th-18th centuries, developed into a stylized dance form, which gained patronage at courts and temples.
                  With the rise of the Mughal Empire, which was understandably less interested in Hindu themes, the focus of dance, especially in its courtly form, shifted to a vast area of ​​rhythmic virtuosity, which remains one of its main distinguishing features today. This trend has also spread to the classical music of north India, which is firmly based on the creativity of the performer, using improvisations built around a given minimum two bandish lines or composition. The same feature of improvised creativity, characteristic of the musical form Khayal of the Hindustani tradition , in dance took the form of rhythmic combinations woven into the main refrain of the rhythmic cycle, or tala. Differences between temple and court dances increased, as the former emphasized bhakti or love for the Almighty, while the latter emphasized the mastery of pure technique.

                  Unlike the technique of other Indian classical styles, where the main stylistic feature is the position of a squat or half-squat with the knees apart, the Kathak performer in two-dimensional approximation, like a flamenco performer, holds body straight, moving forward and backward in space, and distributing weight evenly on both feet - without straightening the legs and bending the knees, as is done in Bharatnatyama or other dance forms.
                  Pirouettes at various speeds are part of the dance form, and here the dancer places one foot completely firmly on the floor, marking the center, and the other foot, like a compass needle, describes a circle in the course of rotation.
                  Beating with a full foot on the floor in time, weaving rhythmic combinations into a metrical cycle (tala), called tattakara, is the key to dance, and it is this element that is given special attention during training.
                  A virtuoso performer of Kathak skillfully creates rhythmic patterns, shifting accents in them, which is achieved by imperceptibly transferring body weight to the legs.
                  Like other dance forms, Kathak has its own rich vocabulary of rhythmic syllables, which are symbolic and are called bolas, and in Kathak every nuance and rhythmic syllable played on the tabla percussion instrument must find its appropriate expression in the dancer's footwork.
                  As for the expressive side of the style (the legends about Krishna prevail here under the influence of the Rasalil tradition), where emotions are depicted by facial expressions with hand gestures, evoking the inner dancer, the textual/thematic basis for the dances are ghazals - a genre of poetry in the Urdu language, or poetic works in Hindi such poets as Surdas, Kabir and others, as well as the lyrics of Thumri, with a predominance of love themes.
                  Like other dance forms with their own vocabulary of hand gestures (mudras), there are gestures in Kathak, but there are fewer of them and they are used in a natural rather than stylized manner. In the art form widely practiced by courtesans and tawaif dancers in feudal India, the teachers (some of whom were consummate performers) were men.

                  Three main schools or gharanas emerged in Kathak.

                  Fine gharana Lucknow was born in the court of the Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula (1775-1798) of Awadh and flourished under Wajid Ali Shah (1847-1856), who, being a passionately devoted patron of the dance, gave it such attention that he forgot about the duties of a ruler. Refinement and grace became the hallmarks of this offshoot of Kathak with such followers as Kalka and Bindadin, who were followed in the 20th century by the three famous sons of Kalka Maharaj - Achchhan Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachchhu Maharaj, and finally the baton was passed to the son of Achchhan Maharaj, to the famous Birj Maharaj, a living legend revered as an event in the world of Kathak.

                  The gharana style of Jaipur (in a later period, a generalizing concept that includes several independent directions of Kathak), which developed largely under the auspices of predominantly Hindu royal courts, is more energetic, designed for the warlike disposition of the Rajasthani, enjoying energetic footwork. Mohan Lal, Chranji Lal, Sohan Lal, Narayan Prasad, and contemporary artists such as Sundar Prasad, Devi Lal, Hazari Lal, Kundal Lal Gangani, Durga Lal, Gauri Shankar were all outstanding teachers/performers of this gharana.

                  Gharana Benares or Gharana Janaki Prasada emerged from Jaipur, its founder was from the village of Mailsur in the province of Bikaner in western Rajasthan. The performance of tattakar on the heels and the use of Natwari bol, the performance of the dance with the back to the viewer are the distinguishing features of this school, which can boast of such performers / teachers as Puranlal, Biharilal, Hiralal, Krishna Kumar, Sudarshan Dhir, Gopikrishna, Hazarilal, his wife Sunayana Hazarilal, a well-known dancer in our time, and, finally, the eighty-year-old Sitara Devi, a veteran of Kathak.

                  In the state of Madhya Pradesh at the court of Raigarh, the enthusiastic rulers, supporting the dancers from the gharanas of Jaipur and Lucknow, encouraged their own Nacha performers Karthika Ram and Kalyan, who were trained by Chunnilal and Shivnarayan, to lead another branch of Kathak, with a repertoire abounding. compositions of the ruler Chakradhar Singh, who ascended the throne of Raigarh in 1935 year.

                  After independence in 1947 and the abolition of princely states, many of the main gurus moved to the capital, Delhi.
                  At Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, the first dance school of its kind, the post-independence Kathak show in the early fifties began with a Kathak department led by the eminent pundit Shambhu Maharaj, who taught the Lucknow gharana style, and Pandit Sundarprasad, who taught the Jaipur gharana style. . Later, in the 1960s, the Kathak Kendra Institute was taken over by the Sangeet Natak Academy (Music and Drama), the highest state institution established to oversee the performing arts. Gurus such as Pandit Birju Maharaj, Kundan Lal Gangani, Munna Lal Shukla, Reba Vidyarthi taught in the styles of both gharanas - Lucknow and Jaipur.
                  Along with such experienced performers as Damayanti Joshi, new names appeared on the scene, such as Rohini Bhate, Maya Rao, Uma Sharma. The genius of Birju Maharaj gave a new impetus by discovering such professionals as Kumudini Lakhia, Urmila Nagar , Rani Karna, Malavika Sarkar, Prerna Shrimali, Saswati Sen, Shovana Narayan, Bhaswati, and many young dancers spreading the glory of Kathak all over the world.

                  Kathak solo numbers represent several independent compositional genres, the integrity of which is achieved by the conclusion of several impetuous pronunciation of the balls of the compositions Tukra, Paran and Tihai before their direct performance, casual discussion into the microphone of certain aspects of the performance of technical elements - all this is part of the performances Kathak where it looks completely natural communication with the public under the tireless exclamations of approval "bravo!". The former structure of the improvisation-dominated performance, which emerged from the on-stage bursts of inspiration and challenges thrown by the drummer, was never discussed in advance. The structural formality of the modern proscenium undermines the very basis of such free ideas, and this Kathak has to put up with.
                  The hope that dance would be rehearsed in advance, involuntarily reduced the degree of opportunity for an impulse of creative thought necessary for improvisation. Since not all spectators in large cities understand the works of Hindi poets such as Tulsi, Mira, Vidyapati, Padmakar or Nirala, they tend to admire more rhythmic skill, and virtuosity is increasingly becoming a criterion for assessing the skill of a Kathak performer, and the expressive part of the dance is receiving less and less attention.

                  The Kathak style is not destined to escape globalization or the call of the international stage, for the presence of which it competes along with other art forms. Group performance, and the dance-drama genre in particular, saw innovation beginning in the 1920s when Madame Menaka (her real name was Leela Roy) pioneered productions such as Deva Viyaya Nritya. Staged by Malti Madhav by Lachchhu Maharaj and Birju Maharaj at 1958, starring Birju Maharaj and Kumudini Lakhia, was an incredible success. Pandit Birju Maharaj himself staged many dance performances with new themes, and some of his early creations were Rupmati-Baz Bahadur, Kumar Sambhavam (1958), Shane-e-Awadh (1960), Dalia (1961), Krishnayana (1966), followed by several more productions. In his production of Angika, where the individual parts of the dancers' bodies were illuminated by lighting and the movements of the head, eyes, face, wrists, arms, torso, an aesthetic group geometry was created, which visually represented the entire glossary of movements in Kathak using the smallest parts of the body. He even staged a performance whose central theme was the printing of paper. The autobiographical narration of a piece of iron ore inspired the master to a whole production. An excellent teacher, he raised countless disciples. He has no equal in experimenting with rhythm and balls. Observing the rhythms of nature, he found images in the sound of oncoming waves, chirping birds, night sounds, and the conversation of people, and expressed them in Kathak bandishes. Possessing the strongest creative beginning, he conducts all his research within the boundaries of the tradition of the classical form.
                  Kumudini Lakhia, one of Guru Shambhu Maharaj's senior students, has made significant contributions of contemporary research, and her pairings with dancers such as Ram Gopal have developed in her a particular sense of applying different performance perspectives. She experimented by moving away from the soloist in the foreground, while modeling movements in different directions and using the aesthetics of group formations. Even parhant, or the pronunciation of rhythmic syllables, has become a dramatic element, symbolizing the verbal conversation between the performers. She mainly used the abstractness of rhythm to convey meaning, as in Dhabkar (pulse), where a simple, unadorned tatkara became a heartbeat. The composer Atul Desai collaborated with her for a long time, creating a melodic structure that serves as the basis for her plots. Her work, such as Ata Kim, is filled with very strong group images. And by opting for simple and elegantly tailored costumes without embellishments, concentrating on the dance itself, freeing the performer from the excesses of the costume, she created a mindset with proud posture and self-awareness of the body.
                  Interacting with flamenco in duets, using Western music - Kathak under Vivaldi, performed by Daksha Seth, and under the Moonlight Sonata, performed by Shovana Narayan, Kathak performers strive to ensure that the style is able to meet the challenge of modernity.

                  ◆ The author is a dance critic who has written a number of books on Indian classical dance.

                  Author and source of publication:

                  LILA VENKATARAMAN, India perspectives 9`2009

                  Kuchipudi - Indian living room

                  Genre "kuchipudi" is classified as a dance drama. It is another jewel in the crown of India's majestic, rich culture. This style is famous for its grace, elegance and charm. Kuchipudi owes its current form to the great dancers who created it, protected it and improved it.

                  There are many legends about this dance style. One of them says that in the thirteenth century there lived a young man named Siddhapa, who was about to marry a beautiful girl. But fate decreed otherwise. As he was crossing the river, the boat capsized and he began to sink. The young man began to pray that God would save his life, and made a vow that he would devote his life to serving God. His prayer was heard and the young man was saved. From then on he became known as Siddhendra and became a great 17th century Telugu poet who composed the dance drama Bhama Kalapam. His poems praised Lord Krishna through the art of dance. This dance was performed only by men. The participation of women was thought to belittle the art form. The first Kuchipudi dance was also written by Siddhendra. Thus, the Kuchipudi style, as it has survived to this day, is said to have its origins in the dance drama tradition, also known as the Bhagavata Mela Natakam.

                  Another legend says that Kuchipudi is the result of religious tolerance that prevailed in India in the 13th century. According to this tradition, a dance performance was once performed at the court of the Nawab king in Andhra Pradesh. The king was so impressed by what he saw that he gave the dancers the village of Kuchipudi and asked them to continue the traditions of this dance. Since then, the entire male population of the Kuchipudi village has been practicing this art form. The themes of these dance dramas are always based on stories from Indian mythology.

                  Kuchipudi is performed to the accompaniment of classical Indian Carnatic music. The mridanga, flute and violin are used as musical instruments. The words to the dance are performed by the vocalist, and the organization of the musical arrangement and the recitation of the rhythmic part of the dance is done by a person who is called nattuvanar.

                  Kuchipudi is a perfect mix of nritta, nitya and natya. Nritta is a song, nitya is an interpretation of a song, and natya combines both of these components, forming a complete dance with its own storyline and characters.

                  Kuchipudi dance form uses a lot of fast foot movements. In addition, graceful body movements are the main and most striking components of this form of dance. The dancer's facial expressions, hand movements and a subtle expression of emotions are also involved here. Together, this is a unique technique that has made Kuchipudi one of the most important styles of Indian classical dance.

                  Another unique feature of Kuchipudi is Tarangam, when the dancer moves on the edge of a copper cymbal in accordance with the rhythm of the music.

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