A Brief Look at the Types of Classical Dance Forms in India

Out of the many famous dance forms in India, classical dance is long known for the beauty, sensual and dramatic movements that more often than not tell a story. Classical dance is rooted in the country of the Ganges since a few hundred years. Here are some of the most famous classical dance forms in India, some of which are also incorporated in today’s Bollywood dance songs.

  • Bharatanatyam
    One of the oldest dance styles of India, it emerged from the temples and courts of India. Before it was registered as a performing art, women used to dance in temples as service to gods. The male gurus taught women (Devadasi) this form of dancing. The performances were limited to the premises of the temples until it was declared as a performing art. This is now performed widely by both men, women and even young children. The music is extremely rhythmic and the steps require balance and flexibility. This dance form is seen in many Bollywood movies even today, e.g. in a song from the movie Mission 369.
  • Kathakali
    Kathakali, is one of the oldest dance forms in India; originated from Kerala. Formerly, the performers of kathak took up various roles from Hindu mythology, but the dance form has evolved now evolved; today, it involves stage performances that last a couple of hours, unlike before when the performances lasted two parts of the night. The dance form is also story based; performers use hand gestures and facial expressions to tell stories and tales. Also, the dance costumes and makeup of the performers are done with great detail along with accessories. Kathakali requires a lot of training and practice.
  • Kathak
    Kathak was initially just performed by poets in village squares and courtyards. These performances usually narrated tales of Indian mythology through vivid facial expressions and hand gestures. It has dramatic, rhythmic and highly sensual and active movements to portray stories. Today, kathak is taught in many dance studios across the world and is one of the most famous types of Indian classical dance forms. Usually dancers wear long flowy frocks with pajamas (chooridaar) for a typical kathak performance. Kathak dance is seen widely in Bollywood movie songs. E.g. the song Albela Sajan Aayo Re in the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
  • Mohiniattyam
    This type of classical dance style has its roots in southwestern India. Meaning the dance of the enchantress, the dance form is fascinating in a way that it has graceful movements, beautiful costumes, accessories and hairstyles. It is aesthetically pleasing to look at; performances are quite hypnotic, as the audiences only feel amazed towards the end of it. The swaying movements of the body and eye movements are sensational. Mohiniattyam has expanded over the years as dance gurus have included and introduced many steps into it. Initially it was performed only by females but today, males are equally learning and performing this dance style.

BollyArts dance studio in Hicksville, NY offers regular kathak dance classes in its facility for dance enthusiasts with no age restrictions. All dancers, whether kids or adults are welcome to participate and learn the beautiful classical dances from learned and professional dance instructors.