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The Dance in India

More Dance Styles

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    Odissi invokes the grace of Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe, another attribute to Vishnu. Orissa is known as the land of temples and Odissi became an inseparable part of the rituals of the temple since the 9th Century. Odissi dance reflects the sculpturesque poses of temples dating back to the second century, B.C. in the rounded curves and flexions of the style, especially the "Tribanga" or "triple-bend" pose. Odissi is a very graceful and lyrical dance form with distinctive torso movements and sculptural poses that gives it a sensuous quality. According to archeological evidence, Odissi may well claim to be the earliest dance form of India.





    This is one of the most popular classical styles of India as we can see in the name of the dance, literaly meaning "Dance of India". Bharatanatyam is a strong dance with straight and vigorous movements. The stories of its repertoire are full of expression being most of them in praise of Lord Shiva.




     Kathak is the major classical dance form of northern India.  The word kathak means "to tell a story".  It is derived from the dance dramas of ancient India.  When the patronage shifted from the temples to the royal court, there was a change in the overall emphasis.  The emphasis shifted from the telling of religious stories to one of entertainment.  Today, the story-telling aspect has been downgraded and the dance is primarily an abstract exploration of rhythm and movement.



The graceful, fluid movements of the body distinguish Manipur dance. The style is one of subdued eloquence. Facial expression is subtle. The ankle bells used in most other Indian classical dance forms are not worn in Manipuri because rhythmic accents are frequently expressed with the body, such as a bend of the knee, rather than always with the foot.



Kathakali is the most well known dance drama from the south Indian state of Kerala.  The word Kathakali literally means "Story-Play".  It is known for its large, elaborate makeup and costumes.  The elaborate costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognised icon for Kerala.A Kathakali performance is a major social event.  They generally start at dusk and go through out the night.  Kathakali is usually performed only by men.  Female characters are portrayed by men dressed in women's costume.  However, in recent years, women have started to become Kathakali dancers.The actors rely very heavily on hand gesture to convey the story.  These hand gestures, known as mudra, are common through out much of classical Indian dance.