Classical Dances of India

India is the country where you can see the ethnic culture and traditional. The following culture in India has many forms in that the art of classical dance plays a vital role. A lot of classical dances are involved in the practice of worshipping the God.

So, that the beginning of classical dances is started from the temples. The performance of classical dance can be done in a different region. The artists of the classical dancers made various classical dances literally and at present Indian classical dances are famous worldwide.

Natya Shastra is the classical dance which has been performed between the period of 200BCE and 200CE. The focus of Natya Shastra is to spread 8 Rasas. They are:

  1. Shringar is to show Love
  2. Hasya is to show Humorous
  3. Karuna is to show Sorrow
  4. Raudra is to show Anger
  5. Veer is to show Heroism
  6. Bhayanak is to show Fear
  7. Bib has is to show Disgust
  8. Adbhoot is to show Wonder

Likewise, this each of the classical dances is established with some sort of forms and signs. The major difference between the common folk dance and classical dance is that classical dance follows posture and has set of rules. And that should be followed in a strict way by the dancers. While dancing classical dance the whole body movements, rasa, bhava needs to get added wisely.

Recognized classical dances:

Well, Nine Classical Dances as recognized by Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The detailed information of all those dances is explained in the below article.

1. Bharatnatyam

Bharatnatyam is one of the classical dances which include all the things like Bhav, Rag, Ras, and Taal. This dance has been performed by the girls to give respect and attention towards the God. Those dancers are collectively called as Devadasis and the type of dance is called Sadir. This 2000 years old dance was originated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The actual meaning of Bharatnatyam:

Bha points to the word Bhava which means emotions

Ra defines the term of Rag the meaning is musical notes.

Ta means Taal and the meaning is the Rhythm.

Natyam is the Sanskrit word which defines the meaning of Drama.

Epics and temples of Tamil Nadu which give reference to Bharatanatyam:

Silappatikaram is an ancient Tamil epic which mentioned about the Bharatanatyam.

The temple of Brihaddeshwara is considered as the center for Bharatnatyam since 1000CE. And the Gopurams of Chidambaram display the poses of Bharatnatyam, chaaris, and Karanas that are carved in the stones.


Kathak is the classical dance which belongs to the part of North India. The common name of Kathak is Kathaa’ ‘Kahe’ so ‘Kathak’ ‘Kahave’. The person who tells stories is called as is Kathakaar or Kathak. Mostly the Kathak classical dance will cover the Stories of Ramayan, Mahabharat, and Krishna. The theme of Kathak may look Solo Dance form but group compositions inclusion is the best part of Kathak.

Notable things of Kathak:

The reason why Kathak has been noticed as the world famous one is that it has specific footwork, amazing spins, Nazakat and Padhant. Through this dance, the watching audience will grab the point of dance. Kathak has quite straight body movements when compared to Bend movements of South Indian Dances


Odissi dance is the foremost classical dance of Odisha. This dance has been founded in the temple of Shri Jagannath for long period of time. In the ancient time the oldest Sanskrit Text – Natya Shastra Odissi is mentioned as Audramagdhi. This dance is a part of worship to God at Jagannath temples and the evidence of this dance has been sculptured in various temples.

There are two forms of traditional Odissi they are:

3. Maharis:

This style of dance is performed by the Temple Girls or the girls who want to worship the God.

4. Gotipua:

This style of dance is performed by boys.

5. Kuchipudi

Kuchipudi classical dances are originated in the place called Kuchipudi which is situated in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh around 3rd century BCE. Actually, Kuchipudi is the dance which will be performed by means of solo form. But through the Tirtha Narayana Yati and his disciple, Siddhendra Yogi Kuchipudi dance has been changed. That is at present both male and female performing it to worship Vaishnavism, Lord Krishna, Rukmini, Satyabhama and other myths.

The Kuchipudi dancers use the dress which has one frill/fan lengthier provided with Two buns. Kuchipudi dance is mentioned as Tarangam which means performing on the top of the brass plates.

6. Kathakali

Kathakali is the dance of Kerala. The specialty of Kathakali is that which will tell a story along with the performance. The meaning of Kathakali is

Katha points to the meaning of Story or tale

Kali means Performance and Art.

Kathakali was established by the ancient dances called Kutiyattam and Krishnattam. The performed movements in Kathakali are influenced by ancient martial arts and athletic tradition. Initially, Kathakali belongs to the male dancers but now female’s also dancing Kathakali.

7. Mohiniattam:

Mohiniattam has also belonged to the south Indian state of Kerala. The Mohiniattam is established to show the dance with soft, calm and gentle movements literally called as Lasya. The term Mohini defines to the beautiful women who dance for the Lord Vishnu. The main theme of the Mohiniattam is to fight and destroy the evil power.

8. Manipuri

Manipuri dance is a type of dance of devotional. During the dance, the dancers will perform a dance – drama on devotional songs. This dance is mainly performed to give a contribution to the Lord Radha- Krishna by means of Raaslila. Manipuri is performed by the combination of both Tandav and Lasya.

9. Sattriya

Sattriya is attributed to the 15th century Bhakti Movement Scholar and Saint Srimanta Sankaradev which is originated in Assam. Sattriya is performed in of Vaishnav Bhakti Movement in Hindu Monasteries called Sattra from the year of the 15th century. The theme is based on Radha-Krishna.

10.Chhau Dance:

The Chhau Dance is the classical dance which is performed by the combination of folk, tribal and martial arts.

All these above mentioned classical dances belong to different types originating from three different regions. Every type has its own unique feature, pattern, and style of performing and ornamentation as well. It will be performed during any grand function and in temples.

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