From classical to modern Bollywood

Popular Indian Dance Forms 


Dance in India has a history that transcends ages. From the ancient Hindu mythology to Vedic scriptures, dance has been an inevitable part of Indian life and culture. Universally regarded as a way of expressing the inarticulate emotions, dance in India is an act of worshipping the gods and goddesses too. You will be amazed to know that counting the exact number of dance forms, both classical and folk, is next to impossible. Here we will now discuss about the most prominent dance forms –

  • Bharatanatyam: One of the most prestigious forms, Bharatnatyam came from the ancient temples and royal courts of South India where the Devadasis (girls dedicated to serve temple gods by worshipping, performing songs and dance etc) used to perform this dance. With the tides of time, it slowly emerged as the most popular dance forms.
  • Kathak: The dance form of the Kathaks or story-tellers of northern India, Kathak is about narrating the mythological tales. Thus, facial expressions along with hand gestures are the two primary features of this dance form. Complex rhythmic music sets the right mood as the dancers have to match steps with the music making it an absolute pleasure to watch.
  • Kuchipudi: Originated in Andhra Pradesh, this scintillating dance form Kuchipudi is comparatively faster than other classical forms. Although it derived its dance drama format from another ancient form, Bhagavatmela, it shares a lot of similarities with Bharatnatyam. The life of Krishna is the predominant theme of Kuchipudi.
  • Kathakali: Originated in the south-western parts of India, Kathakali is believed to be the oldest form of theatric presentation in groups. It mostly depicts stories from the Hindu mythologies (mainly the Ramayana and the Mahabharata). What makes Kathakali a great dance form is its elaborate facial paint as well as the costume. The dancers also must go through a rigorous training of traditional martial art form to achieve perfection in physical gestures and agility needed in this dance form.
  • Manipuri: Considered to be one of the most beautiful forms, Manipuri is the dance form of the northern hilly states of India. Based on Radha-Krishna theme, the repertoire of this dance form radiate vibrancy with their beautiful costume and make-up.
  • Mohiniyattam: Another southern form, Mohiniattyam literally means “enchanting dance.” Indeed, this form is mesmerizing in its every aspect, from the white and gold contrast of costume, hairdo and the movements; everything reflects a different level of aestheticism.
  • Odissi: Originated from Orissa, Oddisi tells the tale of the divine love of Radha and Krishna using body postures, hand mudras and facial expressions.
  • Sattriya: More than a dance form, Sattriya is a living tradition of the Assamese people. Previously, the celibate monks of the Vaishnava monasteries were only allowed to perform this dance. Now, female dancers also enact the mythological tales.
  • Modern dance form – Bollywood: Although Uday Shankar brought renaissance in the Indian dance world with his path-breaking modern dance forms, but it acquired a different dimension with the dance forms used in Bollywood movies. Bollywood dance form is the true mélange of different styles and techniques. From popular northern courtesan’s styles to western Ballet dance, from item numbers to Salsa, it encompasses the vast horizon of Indian and world dance forms and present it in the most picturesque way.


by Durba

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She was born 1987 in Kolkata. She firmly believes in: To change the social norms towards women, you need to change the perspective first. To change the perspective, you need to think differently. And to think differently, you need to realize that you have the power to think differently than what has always been said to you.