“If you're a fan of Indian culture and classical dance, you're in for a real treat!
India is a country of rich heritage in various dance forms. When one thinks of Indian classical dance, images of graceful women in colorful traditional costumes come to mind. All the Indian classical dance forms have their unique tint to them and show the religion and culture of their state.
Today, classical Indian dance is enjoyed by people all over the world. It is used in religious ceremonies and festivals and is also used as a form of exercise.
You can’t think of India without the diversity it comes along with. Every state is unique and has something to offer which flourishes their state over India.
This stands true with the dance forms that exist in India, you could find a new classical dance form in every state that you randomly visit but The Cultural Ministry of India has officially recognized 9 forms of all Classical dance forms.
All Indian Classical Dance Forms Express an Emotion.
Dance is an expression and as a person, we have different feelings and moods at times. And this is the very thing that bases our classical dance forms. All Indian classical dance forms have their unique style and convey different emotions with it.
It won't be wrong to say that the dancers in India have developed a vocabulary with which they can express all the nuances of emotions.
Some are more love-oriented, some humorous, and some are more dramatic.
Each dance form is based on a particular Indian emotion coming from “Natya Shastra”:
Chhau: the five Indian elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Sky.
Here’s the guide to all the Indian Classical Dance Forms and how to find the one that suits you:
1. Bharatanatyam, The Toughest of All.
Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest classical dance forms, many people also refer to it as the Mother of many other dance forms.
It is known as the toughest because of its complex dance that involves many different movements and techniques. It is often said to be one of India's most beautiful and graceful dance forms.
Connected with its roots in the Temples of Tamil Nadu.
Bharatanatyam has evolved from the “Natya Shastra” and started as a dance form to worship the gods in the temples of Tamil Nadu. It was called “Dasi Attam” back then. They would dance daily at the time of worship and show devotion to the gods and goddesses.
With its rising popularity in Tamil Nadu, it didn’t take much time to have a famous outlook in South India.
Today, Bharatanatyam is performed in its religious and non-religious themes, as well as its fusion styles. It is unique with its precise movements and expressive body language.
Is Bharatanatyam a good choice for you?
Bharatanatyam is a complex dance form, it demands ultimate control of your body. From the coordination of footwork with your hands expressing mudras to expressive facial expressions, you have to be as expressive as you can.
There are a lot of facial expressions involved. To keep up, it demands expressions with movements of eyes, eyebrows, neck, and lips.
The dance style demands expressions like anger, happiness, sorrow, etc through your whole body dancing in a rhythm. If that sounds interesting and you love acting or expressing yourself completely while dancing, then yes!
Bharatanatyam is the dance form for you!
2. People Call it Heavenly, it's Manipuri.
Manipuri is a classical dance form finding its roots in the state of Manipur in north-eastern India. Its playful movements, intricate handwork, and vibrant music make this classical dance form heavenly to look at.
It is an illustration of the eternal love of Lord Krishna for Radha which places it at a unique spot in the heart of devotees. It is still performed as a holy offering to Krishna making devotion its primary theme. Manipuri dancers say it's a spiritual experience to dance out of Manipuri.
Manipuri is one of its own!
Manipuri is a classical dance form in which the dancer never tries to seek attention from the audience through intense expressions. It's like you are in a different realm and expressing the innermost core of you to the lord.
The movements are continuous in a circular motion with hand movements merging in each step.
It absorbs so softly with the dance form as if a flower flowing through wind lands on a floor maintaining its pure fluidity and mellowed beauty.
Manipuri is one of its own, it takes grace to a whole new level with its hand gestures, expressions, and feelings. It feels like a god-like aura channeling the dancer with the nuances and transitions he expresses.
Why Should you learn Manipuri?
Manipuri dance form is called to be a gift from god to India. Practicing Manipuri comes with many health benefits.
This spiritual beauty keeps your mental-wellbeing and physical muscles in shape. You should try it if you are interested in spirituality.
3. Kathak, the Queen of Storytelling.
Kathak is a mesmerizing dance form presenting stories. “Kathak” is named from the very basis of telling stories, it comes from the word “Katha” which means story, and the dancer who tells the story is called “Kathakar”
Kathak is one of the most beautiful classical dance forms of India coming from north- India.
The theme of this dance mostly tells stories of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Krishna.
It’s mainly performed solo but a group performance when done never keeps far from stealing the heart of viewers.
Kathak is different, here’s how:
Kathak Dance form is a graceful, flowing dance. It is very different from other classical dance forms, such as Bharatanatyam and Odissi, which are more acrobatic and energetic. On the contrary to that, Kathak is more about the use of space, movement, and posture.
Kathak also has a strong focus on hand gestures and facial expressions, which can make it difficult to understand for those not familiar with the language.
You should learn Kathak -
If you’re interested in learning a unique and beautiful form of dance, Kathak is definitely worth a try. With its unique style of storytelling, it never fails to catch the attention of the audience.
It’s also a great tool for developing concentration, coordination, and timing.
4. Odissi is a Mesmerizing Beauty.
Odissi is a classical dance form coming from the eastern Indian state of Odisha. It's performed to classical ragas and is known for its stylized movements and expressive facial expressions.
Odissi dancers use their feet and body in intricate combinations to create a mesmerizing and graceful dance. You will love its aesthetic beauty and the way it takes the viewers to another world.
Torso's movement makes Odissi different.
One of the main differences between Odissi and other classical dance forms is that Odissi is all about movement. Dancers tend to emote their thoughts and feelings through the dance which is incredible to look at.
It looks mainly similar to Bharatanatyam but its torso movements make it unique and more pleasant. Odissi is the only classical dance form that is performed seated. It also has a greater focus on hand movements and footwork than other classical dance forms.
Odissi is also known for its use of light and shadow, which adds an extra layer of beauty to the performance.
Odissi is hard but it’s worth it.
If you have an interest in learning Odissi, then it will be a great idea to discover the grace and fluidity of your body because this dance form is incredibly complex and takes years to execute its moves correctly.
Still, If you are dedicated to it and have a guru then it is definitely worth learning.
5. Kathakali, the Masked Hero.
Kathakali is a classical dance form originating in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is known for its “masked” dance form because the dancers wear masks that cover their entire faces except for the eyes.
The dance is frenetic and complex, and is often described as “the most sensual form of classical dance.”
Kathakali’s story has weapons as well.
Kathakali is a classical dance form that is quite different from others. While other dance forms are typically based around graceful movements and flowing lines, Kathakali is more about showcasing the strength and skill of the performer.
The movements are often angular and fast, and the dancer often utilizes props such as swords and spears to add to the intensity of the performance.
It is often said to be one of the most physically demanding forms of dance and is known for its stunningly realistic portrayals of Hindu mythology and story arcs.
Kathakali is challenging, still wanna try?
While you may find kathakali a bit more challenging to learn than other dance forms, it is an extremely rewarding experience.
The skill and power that is showcased in Kathakali performances is something that is hard to find in any other form of dance and is a unique and special experience that is well worth exploring for you.
If you’re interested in learning Kathakali, or are just looking for a more challenging form of dance to add to your repertoire, then it is definitely worth considering.
6. Mohiniyattam in Mohini's Honor.
Mohiniyattam is a classical dance that originated in Kerala. It is a graceful and sensual form of dance that is considered the dance of feminine grace.
It is said to be a dance of love and seduction and is often used to represent the mythological story of Mohini, the divine enchantress.
The dance form is described as being graceful and elegant, with intricate footwork and synchronized movements.
Mohiniyattam got sinuous moves.
Mohiniyattam emphasizes the eroticism of the movement. When you do Mohiniyattam you have to move your body in a curvy fashion and use expressive facial expressions to create an intense and visual performance.
Mohiniyattam is based on the principle of rhythm and movement. You have to create a fluid dance sequence by using precise footwork, body movement, and hand gestures.
Wanna move gracefully with Mohiniyattam?
Mohiniyattam is an excellent form of dance if you are interested in learning how to move gracefully and with poise. It is also an amazing experience to see the classical dance techniques used in a modern context.
It is more visually oriented. Mohiniattam is also considered to be one of the most difficult classical dance forms to learn. However, if you are interested in learning more about Kerala's classical dance forms, Mohiniyattam is a good place to start.
7. Kuchipudi Dance in Circles “Kuchipudi Ruchi”
Kuchipudi is a classical dance form originating from Andhra Pradesh. It is a dance form that is performed barefoot. The movements are very fluid and graceful, making it a very popular form of dance for performance.
The dancer moves with the rhythm in a circular motion. This circular motion is called "Kuchipudi Ruchi". It is mainly performed at religious ceremonies and festivals.
Kuchipudi often shoots dialogues.
Kuchipudi is often found similar to Bharatanatyam, but you won’t see Bharatanatyam dancers speaking dialogues dancing, while Kuchipudi dancers portray a whole story by speaking dialogues as well.
Its intense circular motion expressions are so beautifully expressed and handled that you could tell even without knowing it.
Wanna be a Kuchipudi artist?
Kuchipudi dancers express the element of earth which contains a different emotion in it. It is a great dance form to learn if you are interested in Classical dance and wanna start as a beginner.
The dance form is a bit complex to learn but it is versatile enough to be performed on any occasion. With the add-up of stories, the performance is elegant to look at.
8. Connect the Divine with Sattriya.
Sattriya is a classical dance form originating in the state of Assam. It is a slow-paced and graceful dance that is performed to classical music. It originated in the “Vaishnava Bhakti Movement” in Hindu Monasteries called ‘Sattra’.
It is also considered to be one of the most spiritual dance forms, as its movements are meant to connect the dancer with the divine.
Sattriya makes you fly.
Sattriya is considered to be a difficult dance form to learn, due to its intricate and ornate movements. It is improvisational in nature. It allows dancers to create their choreography and movements, which is why it is considered to be such an intricate and challenging form of dance.
It is also known for its aerial movements and use of props such as fans and bells.
Patience is your key to Sattriya.
If you decide to learn Sattriya Dance, be sure to practice regularly and be patient. It can be a challenging form to learn, but the rewards are worth it.
It is important to remember that it is a very demanding form of dance. It is best to start with a basic understanding of classical dance before trying Sattriya. However, if you are up for the challenge. Go for it!
9. Chhau stays shadowed in masks.
Chhau dance is an ancient dance form from Bihar, most notably found in the state of Odisha. It is a simple and graceful dance that is performed in classical music. It is considered a prestigious form of dance by many.
It is seen as an expression of celebration and is performed by mainly the communities of local areas. Also, it’s been recognized as an Indian classical dance form very recently.
Chhau is an expression of celebration.
Chhau is more acrobatic and consists of more intricate footwork than other dance forms. It is also known for its use of masks and costumes, which can be elaborately designed and colorful.
Some people believe that the Chhau dance was originally used as a form of meditation. Today, it is often performed as a form of entertainment. The dancers are often seen at cultural festivals and weddings.
Thinking of learning Chhau?
Chhau is also one of the more difficult dance forms to learn, as it requires a high level of coordination and agility.
But, if you are interested in learning this dance form you should definitely consider doing so!
Still Confused Which Classical Dance Best Suits You?
Starting as a newbie is no doubt confusing!
But, you can always start with the one that suits you or the one you have the best access to.
And, BitClass brings you just that!
Wait no longer, Download the BitClass App now!