Arts _ Culture Compilations Part 1 (Chapter 2 CLASSICAL DANCE FORMS)


  • The principles are derived from “Natya Shastra” by Bharat Muni.
  • Natya comprises of music, dance and drama.
  • It is Brahma who is said to have created “Natyaveda” which is supposed to be the essence of existent Vedas!


  • It is believed that Bharatnatyam was revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage who then codified this sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called the Natya Shastra.
  • Probably derives its name from an amalgamation of Bha from bhava, Ra from raaga and Ta from tala. 
  • Has its origin in the sadeer or the solo performance of the devadasis of Tamil Nadu.
  • Dance fell into disrepute but was brought into mainstream by Rukmini Arundale through her school Kalashetra (also popularized by freedom fighter E.Krishna Iyer)

Famous styles of Bharatnatyam:

  • Padanallur
  • Tanjore

Format of a Bharatnatyam Dance:

  • Ganpati Dance- prayer to Ganesha.
  • Alarippur- invocatory piece.
  • Jatiswaram- pure dance-create beautiful pieces to rhythmic beats. 
  • Shabdam- abhinaya to a song in praise of God.
  • Varnam- combines nritta and natya.
  • Padam- dancer can reveal mastery over Abhinaya(usually padams deal with the theme of love)
  • Thillana- pure dance.

Famous Dancers

  • Rukmini Devi 
  • Mrinalini Sarabhai.


  • Originated in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Gets its name from the village of its birth Kuseelavapuri. 
  • Kuseelavas were groups of actors going from village to village. 
  • Basically can be traced to the dance dramas of Brahmins in temples.


  • Traditionally a male preserve but now open to women too.
  • Combines lasya and tandav.
  • Bhama Kalapam is an important part of its repertoire.
  • Siddhendra Yogi is the one who composed the above; believed it was a dance that could lead to salvation.

Exponent : Raja and Raddha Reddy.


  • U.P.
  • Probably inspired by rasleela.
  • Influenced by Vaisnavism.
  • Revolves around Radha Krishna dance. 
  • Derives its name from Kathika or story tellers who could recite stories from epics with gestures.
  • Involves nritta and nritya.
  • Branched into a courtly stream in Mughal Period.
  • Fell into disrepute, later revived.
  • Influenced by different styles of different gharanas- Lucknow, Jaipur, Varanasi & Raigarh


  • Intricate footwork. 
  • Usage of facial expressions & hastas. 
  • No bending of knees unlike Bharatnatayam. 
  • Indian and Persian costumes.


  • Ganesh vandana. 
  • Aamad (dancer enters stage with its item). 
  • Thaat (soft & varied movements).
  • Gat Nikaas (brief outlines of mytho stories).
  • Pradhant (recitation of complicated bols & demonstration). 
  • Tatkar (conclusion-intricate footwork & complex).


  • Birju Maharaj  Sashwati Sen.

4)Manipuri Features 

  • Emphasis on Bhakti. 
  • Not sensuous. 
  • Awesome costumes, serene expressions. 
  • Limited use of mudras. 
  • Flourished with advent of Vaishnavism.
  • Usage of drum. 
  • Cholom means dance- both tandav and lasya elements are present. 
  • Inseparable from Rasleela. 
  • Usage of compositions or songs composed by Jayadeva, Chandidas. 
  • Brought to prominence by R.N. Tagore who introduced it in Shantiniketan.


  • Charu Mathur.
  • Bipin Singh.


  • Kerala. “Dance of the enchantress”.
  • Origin apparently in 19th Century at Travancore. 
  • Songs composed by Swami Thirunal.


  • Elements of Bharatnatyam and Kathakali.
  • Grace of the former, vigour of the latter.
  • Girls dance.
  • Erotic and lyrical. 
  • Distinctive costumes.


  • Hema Malini. 
  • Vyajanti Mala.


  • Probably derives its name from Odra nritya mentioned in Natya Shastra.
  • Dance of the devadasis.
  • Influenced by Vaishnavism and Bhakti cult.
  • Brought to light by Dr Charles Fabri, dance critic who documented it.


  • Called mobile sculpture because of its graceful ad sensuous nature.
  • Great importance to Tribhanga posture. 
  • After the devadasis fell into disrepute, it became a male preserve. 
  • Jayadeva’s ashtapadi is a compulsory item in its repertoire.


  • Mangalcharan. 
  • Batunritya.
  • Pallavi.
  • Tharijham.
  • Moksha (final dance of liberation)


  • Madhavi Mudgal.
  • Rani Karna.


  • Katha means story, Kali means drama.
  • Temples of Kerala. 
  • Main sources Kudiattam and Krishnattam. 
  • Ramanattam evolved into Kathakali.
  • Popularized through Kalamandalam set up by Vallathol Menon.


  • Male preserve.
  • Suited to open air stage.
  • Elaborate make up.
  • Emphasis on gestures & expressions.
  • Great use of eye expression.
  • Color to indicate character (green-mobility; black-wickedness) 
  • Thiranottam- expressive fiery character.


  • Epics
  • Puranas 
  • Prevents the eternal conflict between Good and Evil.


  • Assam, introduced by Mahapurusha Shankardeva (Vaishnava saint+reformer) in 15th Century.
  • Named because of its religious character association with Sattras(Vaishnava Maths/Monasteries) 
  • Visible influences from Bihu, Bodos etc.
  • Governed strictly laid down principles in respect of hastamudras, footworks, aharyas, music etc.
  • 2 dance forms prevalent before neo-Vaishnavism movement viz, Ojapali and Devadasi. 
  • 2 varieties of Ojapali still prevalent in Assam:
  • 1) Sukananni/ Maroi Goa Ojah- Shakti Cult.
  • 2) Vyah Goa Ojah- Vaishnava Cult. 
  • Dancers in a Ojapali not only sing but also explain through gestures and stylized movements.

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