How to describe a dance performance

171 Compliments for Dance Performance to Rock Someone's Day » Trending Us

Dance is an extremely passionate art performed to express one’s love for music. It is a form of art, a way to bring happiness, to express your feelings, be more fit or just feel about yourself within..

For instance, Bharatanatyam is often done by women to express Hindu religious stories and devotions. On the other hand, breakdance is an improvisation. People express energy, creativity, humor, etc. hence the name street dance.

Dance is also very good to invest our time and has health benefits. And if our family or friends are dancers, we must appreciate and compliment them.

1. Always compliment on something specific, in a form of dancing

2. Know your dancers

3. Never use sarcasm appreciation for dancers or teachers

4. Avoid over-complimenting

5. Give unique praises to dancers

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Compliments for Traditional Indian Dance forms:

    1. Your posture was very good. I have never seen a better posture.
    2. What energy! I was mesmerized by your dance.
    3. I never knew you danced so beautifully.
    4. Your elegance ruled everything.
    5. Your devotion is out of the world.
    6. Attire suits you. And I never saw a better dance performance.
    7. The music, your dance, and the colors it all feels like I’m in heaven.
    8. I loved your performance. Outstanding!
    9. You were born to be a dancer. Your dancing and your energy are beyond the best.
    10. You are multitalented. And all of your hard work has paid off.
    11. That expression just wowed us.
    12. It looked so divine, an excellent performance.
    13. And the sad part of this dance is, It ends.
    14. Unbelievable and one of the best performances by you.
    15. You are born to perform.
    16. What a great way to tell a story. Mind-blowing.
    17. It was a beautiful and entertaining performance.
    18. We can feel your energy in this act. You are so inspiring.
    19. Perfect moves. Perfect expressions. Perfect music. Overall, it was a perfect performance.
    20. Glad to witness this live great performance. Special thanks to you.
    21. I’m completely speechless. I don’t have enough words to appreciate you. 

Compliments for a Western Dance Forms

    1. You matched the beat like a professional.
    2. Woah! That is so awesome. Where did you learn to dance like that?
    3. You have some amazing skills.
    4. I have never seen a great dance in real life.
    5. That is so inspirational. The beats were cool too.
    6. Are you a professional dancer? Because those were some best moves.
    7. I wish I could dance like you too. You looked so good while dancing.
    8. Your energy is on the next level. I couldn’t stare away.
    9. Everything was perfect.
    10. Your dance is beyond good. If I could, I would have watched you all day.
    11. Amazing! What a performance, very clean and perfect steps.
    12. This is what you called a great act.
    13. So clean and perfect.
    14. What a performance.
    15. You have used this stage greatly.
    16. There is so much to learn from your moves. Those are just perfect.
    17. This is far ahead of our expectations. Great one.
    18. Powerful choreography and great efforts.
    19. Awesome energy, it was a beautifully performed act.
    20. You look even more beautiful when you perform.
    21. For me, this is the greatest live performance I ever witnessed. Enjoyed a lot. 
    22. Feeling so glad that I’m here to watch this great performance. 
    23. You are such an outstanding performer, and I love your expressions. 
    24. I thoroughly enjoyed this dance number. The variation used looks beautiful.
    25. Wow, you bring new energy to every performance, I’m very impressed.

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Best Compliments for New Dancer

    1. You looked good. It is nice that you are putting in a lot of effort.
    2. Keep it up and in no time you will outshine others.
    3. Dance is a passion. It’s okay to make mistakes but it is not okay to dance without love. You have passion.
    4. I wish you all the best for your efforts. Soon you will see the results.
    5. That was pretty neat for a beginner. Are you sure you are just starting?
    6. You have great energy and you match well with the rhythms.
    7. It is amazing to see such huge potential in you.
    8. You got the drive and the skills. Keep practicing and soon you will be the best.
    9. Dancing is not easy. It is about precision and practice. You are building a great foundation. Soon your body will flow naturally.
    10. I wish to look at your practice every day. Love your dedication.
    11. Indeed, a well-choreographed dance performance.
    12. Your hard work paid off.
    13. You made us proud, keep it up.
    14. Thanks for being on the team. You’re learning very fast.
    15. I truly like the song selection, that perfectly matches your style.
    16. Overall, great energies and powerful performance.
    17. We can feel your passion for the dance.
    18. Your performance was too good, just hope to see the improvement in transition.
    19. I think you need to work upon facial expression, overall the entire act was nice.
    20. Not the best, But I can see you’re improving, that’s for sure.
    21. Hats Off for your hard work and dedication to creating this act. Magnificent.
    22. I can see you improve day by day! Keep it up!
    23. Everything about this dance number is great. 
    24. This is not perfect but your best performance, I’ve to say.

One Word Compliments for Dancing

    1. Perfect
    2. Mesmerizing
    3. Energetic
    4. Synchronized
    5. Gifted
    6. Creative
    7. Exciting
    8. Lively
    9. Exceptional
    10. Wonderful
    11. Talented
    12. Remarkable
    13. Neat
    14. Perfect
    15. Stunning
    16. Hit
    17. Spectacular
    18. Masterpiece
    19. Impressive
    20. Unbelievable
    21. Surprised

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Compliments for Ballet Dancers

    1. Wow! You are very flexible.
    2. I love your calm spirit while performing.
    3. I never knew you are so great. The performance was mesmerizing.
    4. That music and your moves were made for each other. It was like magic.
    5. Your movement was so precise and perfect. I couldn’t look away for even a second.
    6. All your hard work and practice are paying off.
    7. The dress, rhythm, dance, and performance is like the ninth symphony.
    8. I have never seen a better ballet performance in my life.
    9. Your level of stage confidence and dedication to it is over the moon.
    10. I can’t wait to see your next performance. I was so happy throughout.
    11. Your tourner was the best.
    12. Now I’m a fan of your flexibility and moves.
    13. We can feel the story, through your dance moves.
    14. What a graceful performance we have.
    15. So a controlled and sharp act, that was.
    16. The fantastic job there, keep it up.
    17. Again, a big round of applause for your great efforts.
    18. Fully fantastic performance.
    19. You are a gifted dancer.
    20. More like a contortionist. You amazed us with your flexibility.
    21. I think you just beat your past performances, with today’s one.
    22. I believe you have a special talent that makes the audience watch and adore.
    23. Your dance inspires me to put my best in what I do.
    24. When I said let’s skip to the good part this is what I meant.
    25. Your passion for dance is enough to inspire many people. 
    26. So well-choreographed and perfectly executed. Great performance.
    27. Every move is so on point. I can see your hard work.
    28. What a phenomenal dance number. I’m so impressed with you guys.

Compliments for Instagram, Youtube Dance Videos

    1. Cool moves. I still can’t believe it. You are such a great dancer.
    2. Sick beats. Love your energy and passion. You are a mood.
    3. Where did you learn to dance so nice?
    4. Killer Performance.
    5. Post more videos. They are so good.
    6. You have great charisma. Hats off to you.
    7. Your transitions were smooth.
    8. Proud to be your friends. You are outstanding.
    9. Woah! You make me want to dance. You are my spirit animal.
    10. Thanks for making my day. Your performance was good.
    11. This post made my day, truly.
    12. Be yourself. Just love it.
    13. It may look easy, but I know it’s not.
    14. Well done seems like you practiced a lot for this number.
    15. We can feel your passion for dance.
    16. Very impressive. Can’t describe how beautiful it looks.
    17. Great efforts there. Keep it up.
    18. Wow, your outfits… perfectly match the theme.
    19. You are a highly skilled dancer.
    20. I wish I could dance like you… as if no one is watching.
    21. How do you manage to show everyone’s lyrics so precisely? you are damn perfect.
    22. You perform beyond perfection, too good.
    23. Overall, it was an excellent performance. 
    24. We were stunned by your unique dance number.  
    25. This was a breathtaking performance senorita!
    26. How do you always manage to perform something out of the box?
    27. I can see the improvement in your dance moves. Keep it up. 
    28. You’re such a natural dancer and like your passion for it.
    29. You dance with your heart that is what makes your performance truly amazing. 
    30. What we expect from you, we get it. You’re exceptional with your performance.
    31. This performance was filled with energy and has the potential to lift anyone’s mood! 
    32. Truly a mesmerizing performance. Every move was executed with perfect synchronization and utmost care.
    33. I don’t think that anyone could perform this number so gracefully. 
    34. Performance over performance, you’re becoming a better dancer. 
    35. When you dance, you do it not for anyone… but yourself.

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What are the best appreciation words for a dance performance?

  1. Just Awesome
  2. Superbbb
  3. Amazing
  4. Extraordinary
  5. Fantastic
  6. Magnificant
  7. Graceful
  8. Sensational
  9. Stupendous
  10. Marvelous
  11. Tremendous
  12. Mind-blowing
  13. The Best
  14. Unbelievable
  15. Phenomenal
  16. Skilled
  17. Outstanding

5 Tips for Complimenting A Girl or Boy for their Dancing Skills


Always compliment on something specific, in a form of dancing

You must comment on something specific that you saw. A dance step, the energy, the presence of mind, the passion, etc. something that you observed specifically. And if you pay more attention to details, you can find out what they have improved.

Appreciating the improvement will make you genuine and they will feel very positive about it.

2. Know your dancers

Dancers come from different backgrounds, cultures, ages, races, etc. And knowing that is important as you should not say something that they may find offensive.

For instance, giving little detailed compliments for a kid would be understood as bad. Kids love simple compliments that they understand. And if suppose someone does not know good English, and they may feel awkward to speak with you.

3. Never use sarcasm appreciation for dancers or teachers

People do this all the time and it seems normal. But if you are on the other side, you may not feel good. They may hide their feelings with fake smiles. But it is often advised to not use sarcasm while complimenting especially if they are of a different age category or the opposite sex.

So let your compliments be with a smile and you sound serious. And by serious, they realize you are speaking honestly and not just saying it for being nice.

4. Avoid over-complimenting

When people over compliment someone, the natural instinct is to defend. They feel like this person is just making me feel nice, as he needs a favor. Compliments lose their value when used more.

A simple compliment is better than an over-complement.

5. Give unique praises to dancers

Imagine you are a dancer, and you are coming out. And everybody is looking at you and complimenting you. They compliment without a second thought and most of them end up saying the same words.

Words like Superb, Nice, Good, etc. Instead, it is recommended to compliment using a different vocabulary so your compliment will sound unique and genuine. Words like Fabulous, Lively, Creative, etc. will catch their attention, and they feel really good.

Also read: Compliments for Singers for Their Musical Performance 


Dance is great visual art. And whether you are a friend, family, or teacher of a dancer, it is highly appreciated to give nice compliments. And who doesn’t like compliments? It is encouraging and a great way to appreciate the long hard work and practice session.

Simple and nice compliments can make their hard day a little better. Complimenting is a great way to break the ice to make some new friends.  So we hope this article will be helpful in doing just that.

How do you describe a dance performance? –

How do you describe a dance performance?

Graceful, mesmerising, synchronised, expressive, heart-touching, creative, exemplary, beautiful, alluring and flawless are some of the appreciation words and compliments that dancers would love to hear!

How do you write dance?

11:17Suggested clip 103 secondsHow To Write Down Choreography with @MissAuti – YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clip

What do you write in a dance journal?

What do I put into the journal?Class or rehearsal corrections. Goals for your next class.Strategies for accomplishing those goals.Weaknesses or opportunities for improvement you’ve identified.Strengths or where you’ve improved.

What are the stages in assessing a dance?

The choreographic process may be divided for analytical purposes (the divisions are never distinct in practice) into three phases: gathering together the movement material, developing movements into dance phrases, and creating the final structure of the work.

What are the six characteristics of dance?

Specifically, in dance we identify six dynamic qualities: sustained, percussive, swinging, suspended, collapsed, and vibratory.

What are the five phases of dance?

PLAY Creative Rhythms. Folk/Ethnic Dances. Social/ballroom Dance. Recreational Dance. Creative Dance.

What are the 10 basic steps in folk dance?


What is the best benefit of dancing?

Health benefits of dancing improved condition of your heart and lungs. increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness. increased aerobic fitness. improved muscle tone and strength.

What are the 5 basic fundamental dance positions of arms and feet?

First position – bring heels close to touch; toes apart. Second position – bring feet apart sideward. Third position – bring the heel of one foot to touch the instep of the other foot. Fourth position – bring one foot in front of the other foot to walk strike.

What are the 5 fundamental steps in folk dance?

There are five fundamental or basic positions in dance that are commonly termed as 1st position, 2nd position, 3rd position, 4th position, and 5th position of the feet and arms.

Why is it important to know the basic dance positions?

Practicing it in all the five positions of the feet helps the dancer to create a better connection between steps in the center or while performing on stage.

How does dance affect your life?

It’s been found that dancing improves strength and muscle function in older adults, as well as increasing balance and flexibility, leading to better stability and fewer injuries. Dancing can also improve your cardiovascular health, which will decrease your chances of developing heart disease.

What are the 3 purposes of dance?

Three Purposes of Dance: Recreational dance styles change with time, societal structures, and group interests.

Does dancing give you a nice body?

Dancing is a whole-body workout that’s actually fun. It’s good for your heart, it makes you stronger, and it can help with balance and coordination. A 30-minute dance class burns between 130 and 250 calories, about the same as jogging.

What are the 5 physical and mental benefits of dancing?

Dancing bolsters physical and mental health by helping to prevent falls, improve posture and flexibility, lift mood and ease anxiety. It’s also a fun activity that sharpens the mind, increases aerobic power and strength, builds social bonds, and can reduce pain and stiffness.

What happens if I dance everyday?

According to a study, dancing helps you keep your heart healthy. People who dance regularly are at a lower risk of heart problems.

What makes a good dance?

Another essential trait that makes a great dancer is the ability to really focus. Dancing is a crafted skill that comes through much dedication, discipline, motivation, determination, and above all – focus. Like with anything, dancers will experience good days and bad days.

How do you get better at dancing?

Here are 5 important tips that will help you improve as a dancer fast:Take Lessons Consistently (You’re not special) Some people think that they can get good without ever taking any dance lessons… Practice Daily At Home/Studio. Have A Goal. Feel your body. Keep yourself inspired.

How can I practice dancing at home?

3:29Suggested clip 76 seconds5 Creative Ways To Practice Dancing At Home | STEEZY – YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clip

Why are dancers attractive?

Many people are attracted to hot dancers, and a new study suggests part of the reason is because their bodies are more symmetrical than those of the less coordinated.

The Art of Hearing the Dance: Practices of Foreign Schools of Audio Description / "Un Certain Regard"

Listen to the publication

Tiflocommentary: color photograph. The figure of a red-haired dancer frozen in a jump against the backdrop of the sea. She has lush red hair and a slender three-quarter body. The girl is wearing a short tight-fitting black top with a closed neck and bare shoulders, shorts and a long translucent black skirt fluttering in the wind. She lifts the edge of her skirt with straight outstretched arms. The dancer seems to be standing in the air on her left knee, her right leg is bent and raised high up. She tilted her head slightly and looked down. nine0004

"Dance is a poem, every movement in it is a word." This statement is attributed to the famous adventurer and dancer Margareta Gertrude Zella, whom the whole world knows under the name of Mata Hari. But the words of such a poem are not available to everyone. Already from the very definition of the word "dance" - the art of plastic and rhythmic movements of the body - it is obvious that vision plays a big role in its perception. What remains if you do not see the movements of the dancers? Music? Strained breathing? Rustle of clothes? The sound of footsteps? Can all this interest the viewer and give him pleasure? nine0004

Audio description (which in our country is called audio commentary) is a way to convey the beauty of dance to people who, for one reason or another, cannot see it. Joel Snyder, one of the leading experts in this field, calls audio description a form of literary work and likens it to a haiku. With just a few words, the audio descriptor creates a verbal copy of the visual image, translates the visible into the audible. Bright, figurative words draw vivid pictures before the mind's eye of the listener. nine0004

“Dance is not just movement,” says Iris Permuy Hercules de Solas, audio descriptor for dance TV shows on a Spanish TV channel. “Dance conveys feelings and moods. This is artistic art. The dancer draws pictures with his whole body, creates ephemeral masterpieces that the audio descriptor must have time to consider and describe.

“The entire visible universe is movement,” said dance teacher and theorist Rudolf von Laban. To describe this movement to someone who does not see it is not an easy task. However, it is quite doable. nine0004

Anne Hornsby, one of the UK's first audio descriptions, has described many theater productions, including the famous Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables, believes that special choreographic education is not required: “Only the usual skills of verbal description are needed. The ability to briefly, but figuratively express their thoughts; attentiveness and observation; the ability to convey the mood of the work; the ability to meet the allotted time - that's what really matters. At the same time, the soundscape and music cannot be drowned out – the viewer must hear their breathing.” nine0004

Do all dances need to be described? In the back of the hall, a barefoot girl is dancing a contemporary dance. She wears knee-high athletic trousers and a loose gray T-shirt. She stands on a straight right leg, the left straight leg is raised to the level of the waist and laid aside, the body is tilted to the opposite side, the right arm bent at the elbow is raised up, the left is wound behind the back.

The operator shoots the girl's dance on a video camera. nine0004

If we are not talking about an independent dance production, but about an episode of a play or a film, then, on the advice of the leading specialist in audio description of dance, the author of the Talking Dance manual, Louise Fryer, you need to ask yourself an important question: what role does this dance play? Is it necessary for the development of the plot? Perhaps he somehow reveals the character of the characters? Maybe he tells about the relationship between the heroes of the production? Do these relationships change after or even during the dance? Or does the dance simply fill in a pause in the play so that the actors can change for the next scene? Does dance contribute to creating a certain atmosphere? For example, it can immerse us in a historical era. nine0004

During the same performance or film, we can see different types of dance that serve completely different purposes. The audio descriptor must understand the intent of the scriptwriter and director and, depending on this, choose a way to describe this or that dance. “The choreographer and director can help a lot by sharing their vision,” says Louise Fryer. “It’s also good to be present at the rehearsal.”

Photo: Tim Gouw

Tiflocommentary: seashore, cloudy sky and bright orange rays of the setting sun. Five girls dance on the platform, they run one after another in a circle: the left hand is raised up, the hand is turned with the palm to the sky, the right hand is bent at the elbow and directed forward with the palm away from you. All of them are in white corsets tightened on the back with thin straps. Four girls are wearing light long light skirts with a fluttering frill at the bottom, while the fifth girl is wearing a more fluffy light skirt with rows of frills along the entire length. She rises high from quick movements, under the skirt of the dancer there are light tights with lace. nine0004

Audio description is a kind of translation (intersemiotic or intersemiotic, according to the classification of R.O. Jacobson). As Bruce Metzger wrote: “Translation is the art of choosing the right thing to lose.” These words fully apply to the description of the dance. Depending on its goals and the plot of the work, sometimes you need to focus on the technique of the dancers, sometimes on the costumes, sometimes on the behavior of the characters during the dance, and in some cases it is enough just to say that the characters are dancing without going into details, so how they can distract from the development of the plot. nine0004

The well-known film translator Aleksey Kozulyaev repeatedly emphasizes that the audio descriptor is part of the "collective author" of an audiovisual work, and each addresses the viewer in his own language: costume designers - in the language of costumes, the composer - in the language of music, actors - in the language of words, facial expressions and gestures, the director - in the language of images, etc. All together they create a single work. The task of the audio descriptor is to merge into the structure of this collective author so that his “language” organically fits into the general choir. nine0004

It must be remembered that a person comes to a performance or a cinema to relax and enjoy. Therefore, you can not overload the viewer with an abundance of details. An overly detailed description can be accurate, but it also confuses viewers and distracts from the plot.

Choice of word

The dancers themselves say that when you dance for real, you involuntarily discover that you don't have enough words, and there are not enough concepts in any language of the world to convey your feelings. Isadora Duncan, for example, said: "If you could explain something in words, there would be no point in dancing it." No wonder they say that dance is like love: this state can be felt, but it is very difficult to describe. nine0004

“You need to create verbal pictures of the movements of the dancers,” says Ann Hornsby, “but in a way that does not sound like a dry description of physical exercises.” Iris Permuy Hercules de Solas adds: "It takes a rich vocabulary to describe it colorfully, gracefully, energetically, sadly, just like the dance itself. "

Tiflocommentary: color photograph. Scene. The dancer in a black suit stands with his back to the audience, his right leg is set aside on his toe, his left hand is extended to the dancer, who is flying back in a jump with her arms spread apart. She looks at the dancer and smiles broadly. She is wearing a white suit: a tutu with a flat skirt, a leotard with thin straps with golden embroidery in the center, white leggings and pointe shoes. The dancers are watched by performers dressed as villagers. In the depths of the stage, in the blue twilight, there are scenery with buildings and the silhouette of a tilted ship. nine0004

The choice of the right word is the most important moment in the description of the dance, according to all specialists. “For people who are far from choreography, the most terrible thing is the special terminology,” says Louise Fryer. - Knowledge of professional terms will not hurt. Describing, say, architecture, we want to show the difference between the Norman arch from the Gothic or the Ionic order from the Corinthian. By the same logic, it is important for us to know whether this ballet rotation is a pirouette or not. Of course, not everyone may know what a pirouette is (although there may be experts in the auditorium), however, if we use a special term, we thereby emphasize that it is ballet on stage, and not ballroom dancing. nine0004

Anne Hornsby stresses that the meaning of the terms must be clarified. Sometimes, when describing a ballet, it is useful to make an introduction before it begins and explain there what the words “pirouette”, “arabesque”, “fuete”, etc. mean.

Ann Hornsby explains: “The meanings of some words are clear without explanation. However, if possible, brief explanations do not hurt. But what you should not do is just list professional terms and dance moves. The viewer simply does not have time to comprehend all this in a short time. In addition, such a technical description will not say anything about the quality of the movement, its speed, the plot of the dance, the emotions of the hero and his motives. nine0004

Laban's movement analysis

The well-known choreographer, dance theorist, teacher Rudolf von Laban developed a movement analysis system that is still used today. He discovered that any dance step exists in four dimensions, or factors: space, time, dynamics and flow. Therefore, the process of motion analysis begins with finding out the following main points: where the motion occurs; why the movement occurs; how the movement occurs; What are the traffic restrictions? All this will help the audio descriptor to find the right words. nine0004

It is relatively easy to describe a dance that has a story. However, as von Laban noted, “modern dance may lack a clear story. It is often impossible to convey the content of the dance in words, although the movements themselves can always be described.

He further explains: “An actress playing the part of Eve can pick the forbidden fruit in different ways, while her movements will express different emotions. She can seize the fruit greedily and quickly, or slowly and sensually. But when we describe movement as “greedy,” “sensual,” or “dispassionate,” we are not really talking about what we see. The viewer at this moment sees a fast and sharp or slow and sliding movement of the hand. And already the imagination interprets the actions of Eve as greedy or sensual. nine0004

Joel Snyder notes that von Laban is essentially referring to the fundamental principle of audio description: "Describe only what you see." “It's important to be precise,” Snyder explains, “but the description needs to be alive so that the listener paints the picture in their own mind. You need to be objective, using precise and figurative words, while avoiding interpretation. That is, our Eve “plucks an apple with a sharp, impetuous movement of her hand,” and not “with a mixed expression of greed and guilt on her face.”

Tiflocommentary: color photograph. Light walls, gray door, padlocked. To the left, a diagonal of a metal staircase with a railing rises up. Halfway up, a ballerina in a black leotard with lace-trimmed straps and a cutout at the chest. She stands on her right leg, with her right hand extended forward, holding on to the parapet, her left leg and left arm raised at an angle of 45 degrees and laid parallel back. The body is turned towards the viewer, the back is strongly concave. Her hair is pulled back into a bun, and on her feet are flesh-coloured pointe shoes. nine0004

Dance is the language of tradition

Description of traditional dances is a separate line of audio description. Dr. Doning Liang of the Hong Kong Audio Description Association has extensive experience in describing Chinese dances, in particular the famous Lion Dance. One of the difficulties is that completely different people will listen to the description: both those who are familiar with this dance and those who hear about it for the first time.

“I'm not just describing the dance,” says Doning, “I'm sort of acting as a teacher for blind people. The Lion Dance is one of the world's most famous performances of Chinese traditional culture. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn more about him.” nine0004

Rudolf von Laban stated: "Everything that happens in the theater is not limited to what is happening on the stage and in the auditorium: between these two poles there is a continuous flow of magnetism." But what if this interaction between the stage and the audience is interrupted because the audience cannot fully perceive the action taking place? Audio description is a way to restore the lost connection and redirect this flow of energy from the actor to the viewer.

V.P.Dhananjayan "Dancer in Dance" - Chapter VII Similarities and Differences between Kathakali and Bharatanatyam

V.P. Dhananjayan "Dancer in Dance" - Chapter VII Similarities and Differences between Kathakali and Bharatanatyam

Chapter VII Similarities and Differences Between Kathakali and Bharatanatyam to Kathakali, since the Sanskrit word "Natyam", according to Natya Shastra and Abhinaya Darpana, means a dance-theatrical performance. From Malayalam, Kathakali is translated as “a story played out”, that is, a role-playing representation of a certain story. This term is closer to the concept of Natyam. The term Natya is very well suited to describe any modern dance performance, so the term "Bharatanathya" should be understood in a broader sense, as a designation for the dance norms on which various Indian dance styles are based. At 1964, I introduced the idea of ​​a broader meaning of the term Bharatanathya in a seminar on dance at the University of Madra, my article was published in the Bulletin of the University. It should be noted that since then this term has been pronounced, or eventually understood, or used by some of the artists and connoisseurs, as a designation for the dance system that prevails in India. Both terms, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, have been used relatively recently, it should also be noted that they are not mentioned in ancient manuscripts, although separately the words Bharata and Natyam are often found. However, the use of a combination of these words as a common term for the dance style of southern India, more precisely Tamil Nadu, is a unique phenomenon, and after such a baptism, the dance regained its divine essence, was raised to a high pedestal, in the name of joy and prosperity. nine0094

The very first forms of theatrical art were dance performances, a unique combination of music (in all its forms), dance and theatrical performance, using one hundred percent of the full capabilities of the human body and mind. The first historical evidence of the existence of this art form in a developed form is Natya Shastra (a treatise on theatrical art), but the date of creation of this text is still disputed. The existing dance styles of India have evolved from this science of theatre, they have developed their manners of performance, beautiful and peculiar in their own way, depending on the peculiarities of the way of life of various parts of India. It must be remembered that we are a special nation, a unity of diversity, and this phenomenon manifests itself in various aspects of the life of our society. Therefore, similarities and differences must necessarily arise, while they do not mean the superiority of one over the other, the mixing of musical and dance styles would mean the loss of the unique beauty of each of them separately. Therefore, it would be better to consider each of them separately, preserving the originality of each, than mixing everything in one heap. nine0004

When attempting a comprehensive comparison of the two developed classical dance traditions of southern India, now called Kathakali and Bharatanatyam, one finds many differences but very few similarities. Each of them has its own expressive means. Kathakali is a theatrical performance with elements of dance, closer to the canon of the Natya Shastra, while the modern Bharatanatyam is closest to the "Ekaharya Lasya" (one-man play) described in the Natya Shastra. nine0004

As far as staging is concerned, none of the modern classical styles can claim direct origin from the art of Bharata, be considered a purely traditional style, pure, completely authentic, as some critics say. In any kind of creativity, change can lead to both better and worse. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that these two types of art, which developed from the same root and in close territorial proximity, acquired such different features in the process of development. Kathakali is known for its theatrical effects, Bharatanatyam is more lyrical, symbolic, simple in approach. Modern Bharatanatyam is a simplified version of the ancient form of theatrical art of the South, known as the Bhagavatamela. An example to follow is the whole system of improvements made to the conduct of the concert, which makes this style unique. That is why in the Bharatanatyam system, contact with the audience is better established, which makes it possible to give even greater significance to dance and facial expressions. The modern Bharatanatyam has very little of the theory of Bharata, rather it is closest to the system described in the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeshvara, while the Bhagavatamela, Kuchipudinatyam and Kathakali follow the Natya Shastra canon very meticulously. At this point, it seems appropriate to me to reflect on the various aspects and meanings of Kathakali in general, then it will be easier for the reader to understand the similarities and differences discussed in the previous article between it and the Bharatanatyam style. nine0004

Therukkuthu vs. Kathakali
The richness of Kathakali begins with the sound of his magical drums, its splendor carried from the finger of the musician to the ear of the spectators. Although Kathakali is already world famous in our time, neighboring cities such as Madras cannot be attributed to connoisseurs of this magnificent art, either due to prejudices or misunderstandings. This is indeed the case in Madras, where people ironically compare it to the Therukkuthu of Tamil Nadu. This seems ridiculous to those who have an understanding of Kathakali and related arts, yet there are still impolite spectators among us who cannot tell the difference between the classical art form and the folk art. To clarify: Kathakali is a rich classical tradition following the canons of the Natya Shastra. Perhaps this is the only dance style in India that is so closely associated with the Natya Shastra, the best treatise on the art of the theater. In addition to the ritual, Kathakali also adopted the manner of expression through body movements, encrypted hand gestures, complex facial expressions or facial expressions, and the Kathakali plots themselves are taken from such high classical literary examples that surpass even the works of Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti. Although in general Therukkutha is very similar to Kathakali, due to its robes, Therukkutha is more like Sadir (modern Bharatanatyam) in technical features and in nature. But, according to Vallathol Narayana Menon, Kathakali could have developed under the same conditions as Therukkuthu in Tamil Nadu. With proper attention, Therukkuthu, the folk art of Tamil Nadu, could also achieve fame. nine0004

The symbolism of color and costume in Kathakali
It is unfortunate that many people are unable to appreciate the meaning of the symbols signified by the color and costume of Kathakali. The main goal is the depersonalization of the personality of the actor playing the role, giving importance to the character of the hero of the performance, but not the personality of the actor. This, of course, is one of the deviations from the norms of all other dance forms, in which the name and personality of the performer come to the fore, and the art and characters of the characters come second. This is the very moment where all the wealth of Kathakali is manifested. When you watch a Kathakali performance, you only see the mystical heroes of the past, not the performers, X, Y or Z. Secondly, each color has a symbolic meaning and is associated with a certain emotion. For example, in "Pasaprakarana" - one of the chapters of Natya Shastra, various colors are described in detail and in connection with moods and feelings. Although there is little in common between this canon and the Kathakali system, nevertheless, the latter clearly states which combinations of colors should be used to express certain feelings. The nature of the characters in Kathakali is also described with the help of colors, they are called by the name of the corresponding color rather than by the real name, for example, Pacha (green), Kari (black), Chuvannatadi (red beard), Vellatadi (white beard), Minukku (soft shades ) etc. This classification is based on the symbolic meaning of the colors that denote the prevailing emotions and personality traits of the character. The purpose of make-up in Kathakali is not to achieve an external resemblance to the hero, but to imitate his features. In the physical world, there is no one and nothing like a disguised Kathakli actor. The make-up of the actor is a resurrected performance in which all the expressive means of color symbolism are most fully used. Undoubtedly, this is a hyperbole, a tribute to creativity, the right to which is confirmed by the results of this creativity. nine0004

The true essence of Natya
It has already been said that Natya is a dance-theatrical performance. Kathakali, as I noted above, strictly adheres to this concept of a dance performance, where ordinary actions or manners, not a single glance, not a single finger movement, are unacceptable. Facial expressions, gestures, abhinaya are all exaggerated, and even the punctuation marks and prepositions used in the poems are accompanied by special gestures and stylized eye movements. Perhaps Kathakali is the only style of dance in which the leading role is given to expression through eye movements, and not the usual gestures accompanied by blinking eyes, as is now customary in other styles, which makes it more than all others far from Lokadharmi. (Lokadharmis are simple and non-stylized movements of expression of emotions adopted in ordinary, conversational, theatrical performances and folklore performances.) Kathakali, with its characteristic technique, stylized and exaggerated manner of expression, original make-up, is a unique example of Natyadharmi, a type of Abhinaya. It must be remembered that Natyadharmi is deeply connected with the creative cause, so the play, where elements of Natyadharmi predominate, deserves special attention, as it gives a rich experience of experiences, Rasa, helping to feel Rasa in their entirety. nine0004

Similarities and differences between Kathakali and Bharatanatyam at a glance
You now have a general idea of ​​how different the method of Kathakali presentation is from Bharatanatyam as we see it today. The reader will agree that Bharatanatyam needs no introductory explanation. Therefore, I want to overload him with long arguments on this subject. It is truly difficult to put into words the technical discrepancies, in order to understand all the nuances you need to conduct a practical analysis of the subject. However, I will try to outline the main similarities and differences. The modern Bharatanatyam accepts the "Ayata Mandala" (Ardhamandala) of Abhinay Darpana as the main canon, the "ardhamandalam" of Kathakali is the "Mandalastthana" mentioned in the Natya Shastra. The position of the hands of Natyarambha (the beginning of the dance) in Bharatanatyam is in full agreement with the description of Abhinayadarpan, in Kathakali it accepts the description given by Bharatarnava - "Uddita hasta". It should be mentioned that the modern Bharatanatyam is based on the Abhinaya Darpana treatise, Kathakali follows the Hastalakshanadipika. Needless to say, both of these texts are based on a common source of Natya Shastra, the text of which was adapted by later authors with their own comments, possibly giving other shades to the original thoughts. Old wine in a new bottle!! nine0004

Another small example is the gesture called "tripataka" in Abhinaya Darpana, called "pataka" in Hastalakshanadipika, and "ardhachandra" as "hamsapaksha" respectively. There are several other similar differences in the names and usage of mudras. In Kathakali, every gesture is thought out to the smallest detail, strictly following the canon of the Natya Shastra, using the movement of muscles, eyebrows, etc. in a strict Natyadharmi line. But modern Bharatanatyam is less expressive (most likely, this is the latest trend), the expression is superficial, so a deep study of theory is not required. Usually, in Bharatanatyam from word to word the same mudra continues to hold, and the meaning of the verse is simply symbolic expressed instead of "Sanchari" or Vabhicari, a way of conveying the inner state, Bhava. The mudra is repeated as many times as the couplet is repeated, in Kathakali the mudras are shown only once, during a significant time interval, the duration of which is regulated by the performer, while the musician must wait until the actor or actress finishes explaining this semantic piece. The rhythmic dancing between the padams in Kathakali, known as "Kalaasam", has an almost exact equivalent in Bharatanatyam - "Tirumaanam", the meaning of the words themselves is also the same. Kathakali uses very simple Krana to form the Angakhara or Korvali. Nowhere are there such sophisticated mathematically calculated rhythmic dance patterns as in Bharatanatyam. It uses the unique system of combinations of the Karan and no other dance style of India can compare with it in terms of the complexity and uniqueness of the rhythmic pattern of movements, woven from specific rhythmic combinations, variations, flowery designs. How much variety is in it, and how simple and limited is Kathakali against its background, if the consideration is carried out from the point of view of Nritta. nine0004

Since I have already described the various instruments used in Kathakali, let me just say a few words about Kathakali music. Its musical accompaniment uses the "Sopana" singing style, which sounds like a chant, without strong melodic expression. In our time, this tradition is almost completely replaced by Karnataka, maybe a fresh trend will contribute to the development of the Kathakali dance technique, a better understanding of it outside its birthplace - Kerala.

Unlike the Karnataka system, Kathakali uses only five talas (rhythms) called Chenpada, Chenpa, Panchari, Atantha and Muri-atantha, corresponding to the Adi, Jampa, Rupakam, Ata and Triputa talams in Bharatanatyam. Although the number is the same, the definitions are different. nine0004

The Value of Uniformity
The most valuable asset of Bharatanatyam is expressive music, the quality of which is highly dependent on the vocalist and how strong and harmonious his bond with the dancer is. Apart from this, one of the strong advantages of Bharatanatyam is its adoption of "Ekharya Nritya" (a style of performance where one dancer performs several different roles). But in general, the system lacks uniformity, which is a serious obstacle in the way of performers. In Kathakali, the system of rules for staging and conducting a performance is the same, although the skill of individual actors varies. A dancer can join any troupe without much interference, no matter who he dances with. Each artist can communicate with partners on stage, and his knowledge of mythology and Sanskrit gives him the opportunity to overcome many difficulties that arise on stage, neutralize unexpected attacks or mistakes of partners. Over the centuries, a unique system has been developed that allows the singer or musician to follow the movements of the performer exactly, whether the dancer is familiar with the musicians or not. In any case, the lack of synchrony between the accompaniment and the dance will not be noticeable. There is an inexplicable mutual understanding between dancers and musicians, which eliminates all the difficulties associated with the group nature of the performances in Kathakali. It may turn out that Bharatanatyam, in its process of change, will completely lose its original uniformity, becoming dependent on the tricks of the so-called old masters, who are very prone to cultivate inferiority-superiority complexes between different schools. There are many stylistic inconsistencies between the manners of performing masters of different styles (baani). However, all this is still called Bharatanatyam, regardless of the changes made, each of which claims superiority over all others and proximity to the source. nine0004

Order of presentation
In Kathakali, the presentation begins with "Todayam" corresponding to "Todayamandalam and Alarippu" in Bharatanatyam and has the same meaning. The next dance, Purappadu, takes the place of the Jatiswaram, which was originally an introduction, an introductory dance number (although now the Jatiswaram has lost its former meaning and has become just a rhythmic parody that has reached its highest point). Next in Kathakali is "Melappadam", a musical composition in which the skill of the singers and the virtuosity of the musicians Chanda and Maddalam are most expressive, the verses for the song are usually taken from the "Gita Govindam" by the poet Jayadeva, who is highly revered in Kerala. This composition can only be compared with the "Ambaram" (music of the cosmos) mentioned in the text of Bharatarnava, this is the beginning of the dance performance, only after this musical interlude does the performance itself begin. nine0004

The importance of Varnam
The exact correspondence of Varnam, the most important element of the Bharatanatyam program, in Kathakali is "Padinya-padam" or "Sringara padam", which is performed by the heroic character - "Adhyavasana", Shringara rasa is the main goal and inalienable property of this dance, true mastery The dancer's personality is manifested in how skillfully he performs Shringara Pada. Words are not able to convey all the fullness and power of aesthetic pleasure that the viewer receives when contemplating the performance of Shringara Pada by the great master of Kathakali, this is an amazing example of the beautiful form in which the science of sensual love can be presented, without a hint of vulgarity. As a result of more direct contact with the audience, general ease, spontaneous applause, some vulgarity sneaks imperceptibly into the manner of showing Shringara rasa in Bharatanatyam; while performing Varnam or Padam, modern dancers sometimes use "non-literary" ways of expression, which of course makes the dance more attractive, but the artistic value (which is the purpose of the existence of our culture) of the work is reduced. This regression began with the appearance of Devadasi on the stage, and now the cinema is also strongly contributing to this through their publicity stunts. Dancers, critics and connoisseurs must firmly remember one important thing - the need to preserve the artistic value of art, only if discipline is maintained, art will live long and stand the test of time. While Valmiki, Kamban and Kalidas are immortal, why are the names of the followers forgotten? In the same way, some contemporary artists will live for centuries, while others will die, forgotten forever. Therefore, all attempts at creativity and innovation should be supported and encouraged, but every artist should always remember that the further fate of his creation depends on its artistic value, and not on popularity. nine0004

I have tried to look at some of the obvious similarities and differences between these two great traditions. In fact, for someone like me who has known the depths of both these arts, they are like two eyes complementing each other.

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