Dance is a performing art that becomes a prime source of expressing happiness on any occasion, transcending all barriers of culture and development. India is a nation with diverse cultures and languages. Dance and music have played a remarkable role in unification and in bringing about integration of different castes and communities in the country. Using the body as a means of communication, dance is easily the most understand art form.
Ages ago dance, as a structured entity, was essentially a part of the devotional process. This becomes particular evident when one studies the old temples, pillars and caves abound with female as well as male dancers dancing and playing instruments with people watching the performance. When combined with song and story-telling, dance metamorphosed into theatre. One aspects or other predominates in the theatre and the performing arts as we accept them today.
The Natya Shastra is the earliest Indian text on the subject and it of ekaharya (solo dance) and the anekaharya (dance as performed by more than one person). Written by Sage Bharata, the work divides dances into nritta, i.e. pure dance and nritya, i.e. expressional dance or pantomime. While the former is an act of beauty not seeking to convey any meaning, the latter depicts emotions through facial expressions, movements of the eyes ad stylised gestures of the hands called mudras or hastas. Nritta and nritya exist hand in hand. The latter refers to enactments of stories and concepts, through verse (sahitya), hand movements (hastas), and facial expressions (abhinaya). The mode is in two temperaments: tandava or the vigorous masculine movements represent the male principle symbolised by Lord Shiva, as in Kathakali, and lasya or the feminine principle symbolised by Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva, for example in Bharatanatyam and Manipuri. Kathak is the only dance form that encompasses both.
Dance is a physical and visual art form that has an immediate and massive impact on the onlooker. The various Indian forms act like a window to India’s rich cultural heritage. Dance is a form of art, where the body is used as a medium of communication. Indian dances have influenced several other realms of art like poetry, sculpture, architecture, literature, music and theatre. The earliest archaeological evidence is a beautiful statuette of a dancing girl dated around 6000BC. This was found at Mohenjodaro during archaeological excavations.
The four original classical dances are Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kathakali and Manipuri. It was much later that Kuchipudi and Odissi joined this hallowed category. All six of these forms have their roots in the Natya Shastra and the Natayaveda. While Bharatanatayam has been popularized by dancers like Balasaraswati, Indrani Rehman, Padma Subramanyam and many others, the very name of Kathak reminds one of Birju Maharaj followed by Shovana Narayan and Uma Sharama. While Mani has gained popularity particularly due to the efforts of Singhajit and Charumathur, kuchipudi and the names of Raja and Radha Reddy have become synonymous. Dancers like Snjukata Panigrahi and Sonal Manisingh have done a lot to keep alive the tradition of Odissi.
The dance heritage of India is nearly 5000 years old. Classical dance is the dance of the mind, the soul and the divine. It is a physical expression of art, dedication and devotion. It had its origin in the temples where it was used to illustrated the Hindu mythologies.
Classical dances are based on the Natya Shastra, written by Sage Bharata in the second century A.D. It is believed that the Creator (Brahma) created them to give joy in life to the gods who found their cosmic functions heavy and dreary. Classical dances have been modified and redefined from time to time. The major Indian classical dances are: Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Mohini Attam.
Folk dances were developed by the villages or tribes based on their own regional music…each forming a speciality & grace, along with a set pattern of costumes & make-up.
This book, cogently illustrated, brings out the essential features of all classical dances and some of the more renowned folk dances. It should be of great interest not only to Indian connoisseurs of art but also to non-Indians seeking an insight into Indian cultural scene.
This book is the first presentation in book from by the author Aakriti Sinha.
Aakriti Sinha is a well known print media journalist, with Art and Culture of India as her favourite subjects. In this book, she has tried to express salient features of Indian dances, with their relevance to Indian culture and traditions.
North Indian Music (291)
Original Texts (60)
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