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INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCE
Nov 14, 2014

Dancing is considered to be an age-old tradition. A land of diverse cultures, traditions and languages, the country has given birth to a large number of classical dances, shaped by the influences of a specific period and environment.  The origin of Indian dance can be traced back to Bharata Muni (a learned saint) who lived between the 1st and 2nd century and composed a magnum opus on dance, which is known to the world as Natya Shastra. 

In ancient times, dance was not merely a form of entertainment. On the contrary it was considered a medium of instruction of morality, good values, and scriptures and the expression of reality. There are two basic aspects of Indian classical dance: Tandava (denote movement & rhythm) and Lasya (denote grace, Bhara and rasa Abhinaya)


Bharatanatyam

  • Popular in Karnataka & Tamilnadu

  • It is almost 2000 years old derived from the Sadir – the solo dance performance by devadasis, the temple dancers. 

  • Because of the social change and change of king in the kingdom the Devadasis (temple dancers) face so much of money problem and came down to prostitution. E Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale bought this temple dance form (Bharatnatyam) to the society and started performing on stage. 

  • The items of the performance were only Devotional character such like Rama, Krishna etc.. 

  • Two famous style of it are – Pandanallur & Tanjure style Recital usually begins with Alarippu.

Kuchipudi (Andhra) 

  • Kuchipudi born from “BHAGAVATMELA” (a dance drama format) tradition which used to perform by the telegu Brahmins who lives in kuchelapuram. “Siddhendra yogi” (a great scholar and poet) who revolute kuchipudi from Bhagavatmela tradition. During 1960 kuchipudi started performing as a solo dance form on stage. 

  • It  Exhibits scene from Hindu Epics, legend and mythological tales through combination of music, dance and meeting. Bala Saraswathi & Esther Sherman brought out it from obstructing. 

  • It combines Lasya & Tandava elements, folk & classical shades.

  • It also comprises pure dance, mime and histrionics but it is the use of speech there distinguishes it’s presentation as dance drama. 

  • Movements in Kuchipudi are comparatively faster than other Indian classical dance form and scintillating, rounded and fleet-footed.

  • Performed to not only classical Carnatic music also Hindustani classical music

  • It shares many common elements with Bharatanatyam

Odissi

  • It is almost 2000 years old

  • It has originated from Orissa and its history can be traced back to the 2nd century BC.

  • The dance form has been extensively depicted in the sculptures of Brahmeswara temple and Sun Temple at Konark.

  • The divine love tales of Radha and the cowherd God Krishna are favourite themes for interpretation, and a typical recital of Odissi will contain at least one or two ashtapadis (poem of eight couplets) from Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam, which shows the complex relationship between Radha and her Lord.

  • The technique of Odissi includes repeated use of the tribhangi, (thrice deflected posture) in which the body is bent in three places, the shape of a helix. This posture and the characteristic shifting of the torso from side to side, make Odissi a difficult style to execute. The language of the music is Oriya.

  • The formal repertoire of Odissi has a certain order of presentation, where each successive item is systematically put together to produce the desired rasa. The opening item is Mangalacharan, followed by Batu danced in praise of Batukeshwar Bhairava or Shiva. Next is an abhinaya number. And the performance concludes with another abhinaya number called moksha.

Kathakali 

  • Originated in Kerala

  • It literally means “Story Play” known for its heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes.

  • It Represents theme derived from Ramayana, the Mahabharata & other Hindu epics, mythologies & legends. 

  • It is a group presentation, in which dancers take various roles in performances traditionally based on themes from Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. 

  • Costumes and make-up are elaborate and designed so as to give a super human effect. Different group of characters have a defining get-up, which helps identify the characters. for eg: the heroes have a green base of make-up; the anti-heroes sport a moustache and a small knob on their nose and forehead etc.

  • A simple stage is used. A large oil-fed lamp is placed in front of the stage and two people hold a curtain called Tirasseela on the stage, the main dancers stand behind it before the performance.

  • For body movements and choreographical patterns, Kathakali is also indebted to the early martial arts of Kerala.

  • The facial muscles play an important part. The movement of the eyebrows, the eye-balls and the lower eye-lids as described in the Natya Shastra are not used to such an extent in any other dance style. 

  • The technique of Kathakali is a highly developed language of hand gestures; through hand gestures the artist can tell the whole sentences and stories. 

  • The body movements and footwork are very rigorous. a Kathakali dancer undergoes a very hard course of training, and special periods of body massage.

  • The orchestra of a Kathakali performance includes two drums known as the chenda and the maddalam, along with cymbals and another percussion instrument, the ela taalam. Normally, two singers provide the vocal accompaniment. The style of singing particular to Kathakali is called Sopaanam.

  • A traditional Kathakali performance begins in the evening and continues throughout the night, when Good finally conquers Evil. Today, however, it has been modified for the proscenium stage, and the audiences can participate in this theatre experience in the span of a couple of hours.

Manipuri

  • Dance form is indigenous to Manipur

  • Style is inextricably woven into the life pattern of Manipuri people

  • The most striking part of Manipur dance is its colorful decoration, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of abhinaya (drama), lilting music and poetic charm.

  • The Manipuri dance form is mostly ritualistic and draws heavily from the rich culture of the state of Manipur.

  • This style is extricably women into the life pattern of Manipuri people striking part is its colourful decoration, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of drama, lilting music & poetic charm mostly ritualistic. 

  • Important feature of the Manipuri repertoire are the Sankirtana and the Raas Leela, based on the devotional theme of Krishna and Radha. The Raas Leela depicts the cosmic dance of Krishna and the cowherd maidens

  • Other feature  of Manipuri is the Pung Cholam or Drum dance, in which dancers play on the drum known as Pung while dancing with thrilling leaps and turns to a fast rhythm. The dance form also known for beautiful elegant female costume.

Kathak

  • Originated in Northern India,

  • The name Kathak has been derived from the Sanskrit word 'katha', meaning story

  • It  had its origin in the Rasleela of Brajbhoomi, influenced by Vaishnavism. Gharanos – Lucknow, Jaipur, Varanasi, Rajgarh. 

  • Typical characteristic of Kathak are its intricate footwork ,knees are not bent or flexed.

  • Both Indian and Persian costumes are used

  • Themes range from Dhrupads to Tarana, Thumris & Ghazal.

  • A solo recital begins with Ganesh Vandana/Salami (Mughal Style) 

  • Recitation of the rhythmic syllables is common with the dancer often pauses to recite these to a specified metrical cycle followed by execution through movement. 

  • The nritta portion of Kathak is performed to the nagma. Both the drummer (here the drum is either a pakhawaj, a type of mridangam, or a pair of tabla) and the dancer weave endless combinations on a repetitive melodic line.

  • It is the only classical dance of India having links with Muslim culture, it represents a unique synthesis of Hindu and Muslim genius in art. Further, Kathak is the only form of classical dance wedded to Hindustani or the North Indian music. Both of them have had a parallel growth, each feeding and sustaining the other.

  • A special feature of it is Padhant – in which dancer recites complicated bols & demonstration then. 


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