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  Classical Indian Dance Types  

Indian dance can be divided into the following categories:

  • Classical dance
  • Tribal dance
  • Folk dance
  • Film dance

Classical dance

All forms of classical dance are based on detailed rules and systemised sequences of movements as laid down in the Bharata Natya Sastra, the ancient book on dance and music and drama. This book was possibly written by Bharat Muni, and has been variously dated between the second century BC and the fifth century AD. The main styles of classical dance are the following.

  • Kathak belongs to North India, and emphasises the telling of stories with the help of mime and body technique. It is danced by both sexes.
  • Bharatanatyam is the major style of South India, and derives its name from the Bharata Natya Sastra. It is a highly stylised dance using much gesture (mudra) language. It is performed by both sexes.
  • Kathakali is from South-West India (State of Kerala) and is a classical dance-drama using elaborate head-dresses and painted make-up. It is traditionally performed by men only.
  • Mohiniattam is also from Kerala, and is a solo dance performed by women only, using the techniques of Bharatanatyam and Kathakali.
  • Manipuri is a graceful dance style performed by both men and women, from the tiny state of Manipur in North-east India.
  • Odissi (or Orissi) is based on the famous sculptures of Orissa State in South East India, and is performed by both sexes.
  • Kuchipudi is a classical dance-drama sometimes performed as a solo female dance, from the village of Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh State, East India.

Folk dance

There is a great variety of forms which are the collective traditions of each part of the sub-continent. They are danced for recreation and enjoyment, as well as in celebration of seasonal and social festivals. Some of the folk dances which are popular in the Nottingham and Leicester areas are as follows.

  • From Gujarat State
    • Garba - a clap dance performed in a circle, danced mainly on the Nine Nights festival (Navratri) in praise of the Goddess Amba (Amba Mata). It is traditionally danced by women only, although this is now changing.
    • "Dandya Ras" - a stick dance performed to songs in praise of Lord Krishna, also danced in a circle, traditionally by men only.
  • From the State of Punjab
    • Bhangra - a harvest dance performed mainly by men, incorporating individual displays of strength and energy.
    • Giddha - a graceful women's dance performed at social gatherings such as marriages.

Film dance

This is a mixture of classical and folk dance which has evolved into a semi-classical form. It is danced for pleasure, and is a vital element in most Hindi films.

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