Dances of India

Dance in India comprises the varied styles of dances in the country. As with other aspects of Indian culture, different forms of dances originated in different parts of India, developed according to the local traditions and also imbibed elements from other parts of the country. Sangeet Natak Akademi, the national academy for performing arts, recognizes eight distinctive traditional dances as Indian classical dances, which might have origin in religious activities of distant past.

Folk dances are numerous in number and style, and vary according to the local tradition of the respective state, ethnic or geographic regions. Contemporary dances include refined and experimental fusions of classical, folk and Western forms. Dancing traditions of India have influence not only over the dances in the whole of South Asia, but on the dancing forms of South East Asia as well. Dances in Indian films are often noted for their idiosyncrasies, and hold a significant presence in popular culture of the Indian subcontinent

Origin of Dance in India

Shiva as Nataraja is worshipped as the Lord of Dance in Hinduism.
In Hindu scriptures, dance is believed to have been conceived by Brahma. Brahma inspired the sage Bharata Muni to write the Natya Shastra, a treatise on performing arts, from which a codified practice of dance and drama emerged.He used pathya (words) from the Rigveda, abhinaya (gestures) from the Yajurveda, geet (music) from the Samaveda and rasa (emotions) from the Atharvaveda to form the Natyaveda (body of knowledge about dance).The best-known of Hindu deities—Shiva, Kali and Krishna—are typically represented dancing. Shiva’s cosmic dance, tandava, Kali’s dance of creation and destruction and Krishna’s dance with the gopikas (cow-herd girls)—Rasa Lila—are popular motifs in Hindu mythology.

India offers a number of classical Indian dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. Classical and folk dance forms also emerged from Indian traditions, epics and mythology. There are many Indian folk dances such as Bhangra, Bihu, Ghumura Dance, Sambalpuri, Chhau and Garba and special dances observed in regional festivals such as Lohri and Navratri.

Classical Dances of India

  • Bharat Natyam – Tamil Nadu
  • Bihu – Assam
  • Bhangra – Punjab
  • Chhau – Bihar, Orissa, W. Bengal and Jharkhand
  • Garhwali – Uttaranchal
  • Garba – Gujarat
  • Hattari – Karnataka
  • Kathak – North India
  • Kathakali – Kerala
  • Kutchipudi – Andhra Pradesh
  • Khantumm – Mizoram
  • Karma – Madhya Pradesh
  • Laho – Meghalaya
  • Mohiniattam – Kerala
  • Mando – Goa
  • Manipuri – Manipur
  • Nati – Himachal Pradesh
  • Nat-Natin – Bihar
  • Odissi – Orissa
  • Rauf – Jammu & Kashmir
  • Yakshagan – Karnataka

Folk and Tribal Dances

  • Maharashtra – Kathakeertan, Lezin, Dandaniya, Tamasha, Gafa, Dahikala, Lovani, Mauni, Dasavtar.
  • Karnataka – Huttari, Suggi Kunitha, Yakashagana
  • Kerala – Kaikottikali, Kaliyattam, Tappatikkali
  • Tamil Nadu – Kolattam, Pinnal Kolattam, Kummi, Kavadi, Karagam
  • Andhra Pradesh – Ghanta Mardala, Veedhi Natakam, Burrakatha
  • Orissa – Ghumara Sanchar, Chadya Dandanata, Chhau
  • West Bengal – Kathi, Chhau, Baul, Kirtan, Jatra, Lama
  • Assam – Bihu, Khel Gopal, Rash Lila, Tabal Chongli, Canoe
  • Punjab – Giddha (women), Bhangra (men)
  • J & K – Rauf, Hikat
  • Himachal Pradesh – Jhora, Jhali, Dangli, Mahasu, Jadda, Jhainta, Chharhi
  • Haryana – Jhumar, Ras Leela, Phag dance, Daph, Dhamal, Loor, Gugga, Khoria, Gagor
  • Gujarat – Garba, Dandiya Rass, Tippani, Gomph
  • Rajasthan – Ginad, Chakri, Gangore, Terahtaal, Khayal, Jhulan Leela, Jhuma, Suisini
  • Bihar – Jata Jatin, Jadur, Chhau, Kathaputli, Bakho, Jhijhiya, Samochakwa, Karma, Jatra, Natna
  • Uttar Pradesh – Nautanki, Thora, Chappeli, Raslila, Kajri.