Dance and India

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2 days ago

By Badsalasa

The Relation of Dance with India

Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. In India dance has been evolved through ages. From strictly ruling Bharatanatyam to street style hip hop, every dance form has been developed in the hearts of Indians. Dance can be categorized and described by its choreography, by its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin. India has a very rich culture of dance and music. From the ancient times, different dance forms are practiced in India. Indian dances were originated to praise the gods and has a significant influence of mythology, legends, and literature. Classical dance forms have rigid rules for presentations. Classical dancers are known for angular posture, strange hand positions and strange facial expressions, tinkling ankle bells, feet smacking the floor, cocked heads, and hands bent upwards in awkward positions. Among the leading forms of classical dance are Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mohini Attam.

Origin of Dance

Archeological evidence for early dance includes 9,000-year-old paintings in India at the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka. India holds up the most influencing culture in the whole dance legacies. The ancient treatise on sculpture, the Silpashastra, offers a telling story about dance and art. The use of the hands, fingers and eyes are of primary importance. There are almost a thousand specific hand movements and signs (mudras). Often bells are worn around the ankles. Indian dances are generally categorized as classical dances and folk dances. Besides that semi classical and tribal dance forms are also recognized. Indian contemporary dances are the fusion and experimentation of different dance forms including Western forms. Dance has traditionally been an important part of religion and culture in India. Every Indian Wedding Sangeet and celebration have dance as a major part of celebration in them. Natya Shastra is one of the most ancient text on dance. It is attributed to the sage Bharata. It consists 36 chapters and 6000 verses. It is dated back to 200 BCE and 200CE.

The Dance God of India

Nataraja (a depiction of Shiva) is the divine, cosmic dancer and a classic image in Indian art. He is often depicted in old bronze statues with four arms and one legged raised. One hand assumes the gesture of protection, one points to a raised foot, one hold the drum that keeps the beat of the rhythm of creation. The forth holds the fire of dissolution. During the classical Gupta age from the fourth to the sixth century AD the repertoire of the dance images expanded further, while the Puranas or mythological stories of the early centuries AD provided more dance-related imagery. Along with dancing human beings and semi-gods of older periods appeared dancing gods, the first of them being the dancing Shiva. The Shiva Nataraja represents Shiva as the destroyer/creator as described by devotional poetry dedicated to him. In the Hindu cyclical view of time Shiva's role is to destroy one era in order to create the next one, and this is what Shiva Nataraja statues portray. When he executes his cosmic tandava dance of destruction and creation he is surrounded by an arch of glory fringed by flames.


India, in contrast with the past has adopted the western dance forms and is developing as the prime in it. The rise of colour films and increased exposure to western dances and artists led to a dance form that was vibrant, energetic and extremely upbeat. By the 1970s, the Cabaret style of dance made its ways into films. The 80s rolled in and Cabaret was replaced by Disco, which had even the audiences grooving to the peppy tunes and trippy videos. Then came the 90s, which ushered in a style of dancing that's pretty much impossible to name - The Bollywood Masala. The late 90s and 2000s led to an even higher exposure to Western dance forms. Thus we saw, a unique fusion of Western aesthetics, Bollywood freestyle and Indian sensibilities. India has adopted styles like the street rash of Hip hop, expressional layers of Contemporary, the groove of dance Salsa and many more. India has gone great guns in dance classes, churning out best talents for the world. The rise of colour films and increased exposure to western dances and artists led to a dance form that was vibrant, energetic and extremely upbeat.

India was, is and will always be the foremost in rendering the best of dance till the sun rises in the east. Dance has today become a kind of visual poetry, constantly evolving and being taken to unimaginable heights. The dance space in India is in a unique position to delve into its traditional forms, while constantly learning from its global counterparts. And we can only wait and watch what wonders this creates!

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