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Popular Indian Dance Forms - Classical and folk

The melting pot of cultural India offers more than 15 different dance forms. No other culture can boast of so many different dance forms as India.

Classical and folk dances of India According to the Sangeet Natak Academy, which is the governing body for theatre arts and dance, there are 8 principle Indian dance forms. They are:
  • Bharathanatyam of Tamilnadu
  • Kuchipudi of Andhrapradesh
  • Kathak of Uttar Pradesh (and few other North Indian states)
  • Oddisi of Orissa
  • Manipuri of Manipur
  • Mohiniyatta and, Kathakali of Kerala and
  • Sattriya of Assam
These are the 8 classical dances of India, while the other dance forms are said to have been evolved from these. Almost every region in India has its own form of dance to brag about. The energetic bhangra and giddha are folk dances of Punjab, while the rhythmic garba and dandiya belong to Gujarat. Then there is the entertaining lavni of Maharashtra, the fantastic foot coordination-requiring dance of ghoomar of Rajasthan, the drum dance dollu kunitha and Yakshagana of Karnataka and the acrobatic chhau and elegant bihu nritya of Eastern states. The 7 north eastern states themselves have plethora of dances with slight variations among each tribe. Looking at all this we can conclude that the gene for rhythm and dance is pretty ancient! Learning Classical dances Classical dances in India are traditionally taught the old fashioned way -- the gurukula way. The teacher passes down the knowledge of dance through demonstrations and word of mouth. Though some schools and teachers do provide printed materials for better understanding, there are traditional and orthodox dance schools in India that prefer the former. The training is divided into many sections each of which take years to master. These forms express all the nine rasas (emotions). Parents admit their children for dance classes as early as 4 years of age. This is the time when the body is really flexible. It can bend and contort to the needs of the dance easily. The latest should be by 10 years of age as the body starts to change rapidly for girls of age 11 to 13 years. Learning at older age is still an option. However, the ease of learning these difficult dances with a supple body is unmatched. In addition, when the training starts early the pupil can choose to learn more than one form of classical dance. Learning Folk dances Unlike classical dance, one can learn folk dance at any stage of life. They are far simpler, requiring nil contortion of body at odd angles. They are less complex and more social way of expressing one s emotions. Folk dances are often group performances. They are more towards being a social form of dancing with happiness as the expressed emotion. Tribal folk dances are often performed during marriages and after a good harvest. Dance classes in India There are schools and institutes offering dance as an art subject. So, one can obtain B.A Dance (Bharatanatyam) or have an M.A in Kathak. There is also the gurukulam type of class, where dance is pursued separately and not learnt as an academic degree. Both kind of tutelage have the same value and weightage. It is one s own personal preference. However, to pursue dance as a profession, the former option, (pursuing dance as an academic course) is advisable. Dance as a Profession If one wishes to pursue dance as a career, there is always the option of joining a dance group and give touring performances, go as a teacher or start one s own dance school. Related useful links: Classical dance classes in Bangalore Folk dance classes in Bangalore Classical dance classes in Mumbai Classical dance classes in Delhi Further reading Interesting compilation on History of Indian Dances http://www.indianetzone.com/35/history_indian_dances.htm The Role of Indian classical dance in Education by Suprava Mishra: http://www.artindia.net/suprava.html  


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Lonna 11/03/2014

I couldn't resist commenting. Perfectly written!

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