There are various forms of performing and fine arts, which has been originated and is being practiced in India. The oldest classical dance form of India is "Bharatanatyam" , many people spell it as "Bharatnatyam or Bharat Natyam" which is incorrect. Please click the following links to get the basic knowledge about Indian Classical Dance forms. Your comments and suggestions are welcome to email@example.com
Kathakali is a classical dance form of India which originates from Kerala, South India. The kathakali performance is generally a dance drama which depicts mainly a story or an episode. Kathakali dancers have to show a lot of eyes and eyebrows movement. In kathakali, a tall massive brass lamp fed with coconut oil is always lighted on the stage. The dancer has his or her face painted in a natural tint with eyebrows and eyes well elongated heighten his or her beauty and grace.
Accompaniments and costume
The accompaniments for Kathakali includes cymbals, madala, chenda and vocal support. They wear a stitched costume which is colorful. The dancer starts getting ready hours before the performance as there is lot of work to be done especially on the face. This you can notice in the picture given.
Kathak, major classical dance form of North India, literally means a story teller or kathakar. In ancient India there were 'Kathakars' or bards who used to recite religious and mythological tales along with the accompaniments, music, mime and dance. This classical dance form which had its origin in simple story telling came to be known as 'Kathak'.
What distinguishes kathak from other Indian classical dance forms is its spontaneity, freedom from uniformity and a lot of room for improvisation and innovations. At times there is a sort of concert during which the drummer weaves and plays a complex design which in turn is danced by the dancer, specially in the item which is technically known as 'Jagah Dhikhana'. It is a kind of friendly challenge and competition between the two (dancer and drummer) which is full of innovations and improvisation.
Kathak has been best preserved in the cities of Luknow in Uttar Pradesh and Jaipur in Rajasthan. During the medieval period kathak suffered a lot in stylization and formalization. Persian and Muslim influences made kathak from a temple ritual to a courtly entertainment. During this period it was called as 'Nautch'. Gradually from this the Kathak dance form evolved and gained much of its polish, grace and elegance. The contribution of Luknow Gharana and Jaipur Gharana has been the greatest in the revival of kathak dance form.
LUKNOW GHARANA - It began in later half of 19th century Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Audh was a great patron of Kathak and other arts. He himself mastered the art and became an expert Guru (teacher) of this art form. He learnt the art of kathak from the great kathak exponent Shri thakur Prasad Ji. His brother Durga Prasad Ji was also a great kathak Guru. His son 'Bindadin' kathak to great heights by composing as many as 500 thumaris. His brother 'Kalka Prashad' was also a noted Guru and scholar in kathak. He taught his three sons 'Acchan Maharah, Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj'. The well known kathak maestro 'Birju Maharaj' is the son of Acchan Maharaj.
JAIPUR GHARANA- The Jaipur Gharana goes back to middle of 19th century. Bhanuji was the first noted exponent. It is said that he got his training in this dance form from a saint but it was 'Giridhariji' who became one of the greatest masters of Jaipur Gharana Dance style. His two sons, 'Hari Prashad and Hanuman Prashad' led kathak to new heights of technical brilliance, glory and aesthetic beauty. They were followed by Chiranji Lal, Narain Prashad, Mohan Lal, Jai Lal and Sundar Prashad. Hanuman Prashad was well known for his 'Lasya' (soft or feminine) style of kathak and Hari Prashad excelled in Tandava (hard or masculine) style of kathak.
Luknow Gharana is characterized by its tenderness, grace and bhava (mood) whereas in Jaipur Gharana, emphasize is on adoration, ornamentation and technical brilliance. However both Gharanas have much in common and give equal importance to music, mime and pure dance.
Accompaniments and Costumes
Traditionally the accompanying instruments were pakhawaj (a drum), small cymbals (manjira) and the flute but they were replaced under mughal with the 'Tabla' and 'Harmonium'. Costumes initially were ghaghra (long skirt), Choli (Blouse) and a veil. Gradually it gave way to churidhar, pyjama and angrakha.
Besides many ornament of gold and silver for head, arms, hands, fingers, waist ,feet, and the small ankle bells are the essential part of adornment. The ankle bells or ghungroos, helps in dancing many complex patterns which are hallmarks of Kathak.
Mohiniattam originates from Kerala-South India. Mohiniattam literally means " Bewitching Woman". It is a name of Lord Vishnu in the guise of beautiful woman enchanting and appealing who seduced 'Asuras' to regain the 'Amrita of the God on the occasion of churning of the milky ocean. While the asuras were quarrelling among themselves as to who should dring the amrita first, 'Mohini' appeared there. They gazed at her and gave the urn of amrita to apportion it among them. She entranced and cheated them by giving the whole amrita to the Gods.
Similarly Mohini helped Lord Shiva in destroying 'Bhasmasura' . Mohini infatuated him by her beauty par excellence and made him dance after entrancing him to a stance which caused his destruction.
Mohini is a dance of enchanters who causes havoc and destruction to the wicked and delight and pleasure to the good. Thus, Mohini stands for a kind of delusion, enchantment or infatuation resulting from the vision of a dazzling beauty.
The first reference ti Mohiniattam was found in 'Vyavaharamala' composed by 'Mazhamangalam Narayana Namboodri' in 16th century AD. In the 19 century AD, Swathi tirunal, the king of Travancore did much to encourage and stabilize this art.
It was poet Vallathol who revived it a nd gave a status in the modern time. The theme of Mohiniataam is devotion to God. Mohiniattam is named after mythological beauty because it is a solo performance given by a woman alone.
Mohiniattam would have died its natural death had it not been revived by the 'Kerala Kalamandalam' which was established in 1930. Mohiniattam is a dance style specially marked for its grace, fluidity, simple looking footwork and 'bhramaris' or the rotating rhythmic movement.
Accompaniments and costume
The accompaniments for Mohiniattam includes cymbals, madala, chenda and vocal support and veena. The costume is mostly white or cream white in color stitched out of a saree. The other adornments includes ankle bells and spray of jasmine flowers in the hair tied into a bun.
Odissi, the essence of Orissa (a state in Eastern India), is the highly inspired, impassioned, ecstatic and sensuous form of dance.
Odissi was performed in the temples of Orissa as a religious offering by the 'Devadasis' known as 'Maharis'. Maharis or Devadasis were as seductive as rich in their qualities of the heart and the head.
The institution of the Maharis was highly evolved and sanctioned by the society. Epitome of female beauty and grace , endowed with great skills in dance and music, they were really terrestrial nymphs and apsaras.
Odissi is a soft lyrical classical dance, which depicts the ambience of Orissa and the philosophy of its most popular deity, Lord Jagannath. At the sensuous, Odissi has ability to portray erotic sentiments in a deeply reverential manner.
Accompaniments and costume
The accompanying music is pure and classical with the grace of both hindustani and carnatic systems. The instruments traditionally used are dholak (drums), flute and small cymbals.
The dancers adorn themselves with the traditional silver jewellery which includes head, ear, neck, hands, fingers, waist ornaments. The dancer wears a stitched costume which has five pieces including the angrakha, blouse and pyjama. This costume is stitched out of a saree and generally has Orissa print on it which looks ethnic and beautiful.
Kuchipudi is a well known classical dance form of India which originates from Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is after the name of a village of the same name in Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh in south India.
In 1678 when Nawab of Golkunda, Abul Hassan happened to be there, enjoyed and liked the kuchipudi performance very much. He was so impressed and delighted by the presentation of the dance drama that he gifted away the village to the performing troupe. Since then it came to be known as 'Kuchipudi'.
From this village, Kuchipudi spread to neighbouring districts and now to towns and cities of various countries. In ancient times, it was 'Devadasi' or 'maid servants of god' who used to perform these dance drama in the temples and shrines before the deities.
As devadasis disintegrated and deteriorated, Kuchipudi also started losing its identity but a number of 'Brahman' experts of the arts collected at 'Kuchipudi Village' and settled down there with a determination to preserve the dance-drama and its pristine purity and grandeur.
Kuchipudi is generated by 'Bhakti Cult' and has imbibed elements from both bharatanatyam and folk form such as Yakshagan. Kuchipudi is also famous for some very complicated items of original foot work such as tracing out an outline of a lion or an elephant without keeping the full feet on the floor, or dancing with the feet on the edges of a circular brass tray or with a water pot delicately and precariously balanced on the head.
Accompaniments and costume
The kuchipudi dance drama is accompanied by carnatic music system which sometimes has a film music touch. The other instruments include Mridangam (the drum), Nattuvangam, Veena, Violin and flute.
The dancers adorn themselves with the traditional temple jewellery which includes head, ear, neck, hands, fingers, waist ornaments. The dancer wears a stitched costume which has five pieces including the angrakha, blouse and pyjama.
Definition Of Bharatanatyam
Bha + ra + ta + natyam = Bharatanatyam Here, Bha = bhava or expression,Ra = Ragam or melody,Ta = Talam or rhythm, Natyam = Dance, therefore , together is called 'BHARATANATYAM'
History Of Bharatanatyam
Bharatanatyam is the oldest of all the classical dance forms of India. Bharatanatyam in its solo form as we see today is indeed an authentic classical dance form. Its origin date back to more than 2000 years when man could see Gods and Goddesses on the earth. Also there is a story related to the origin of dance which says that -
Lord Brahma - who wrote the fifth veda, asked sage 'Bharata' to take this fifth veda to spread its words and disseminate the information. For this work rather this task, Bharata chose to write 'Natya Shastra' - the science of dance. It is a masterpiece, which is most comprehensive and compelling in the techniques of Indian Classical Dances. The palm leaves on which Bharata wrote are still preserved in two holy temples in Tanjore and Malabar.
Tanjore secular community developed Bharatanatyam with 'Natya Shastra' as a guideline and not as a choreographic tool. At first women called 'Devadasi'- Maidservants of God, performed Bharatanatyam in temples in praise of God. Now coming further after about 900-1000 years, in this period the technology had increased dramatically. The world had experienced changes drastically but Bharatanatyam had changed very little. It retained its beauty, popularity and secularity.
As we leave behind 200-300 more years, still dance continues to have strong secular ties. In this period- transformation began to take place and Bharatanatyam began to take its modern shape and beauty. During this transformation, the great saints, poets and musicians used their ability to create or weave beautiful melodic tales coupled with Bharatanatyam to form rhythmic story, which a dancer would tell. Now a 'Devadasi' - Maidservants of God, accompanied by musicians would use classical dance to tell the ancient stories of God. As the evolution took place, Bharatanatyam began to move out of the temples and into the palaces of kings and queens. At this stage Bharatanatyam dancers broke into two categories:-
1. The traditional temple Devadasi - Maidservants of God, 2. The entertaining non-secular Rajanartika - Dancers to entertain kings and queens.
In this period, dance was considered more for entertainment than as an art. The dressing style and costumes were changed and dance started losing its dignity. The beauty of this spiritual art was lost and it was done for entertainment than devotion. During the early 20th century Bharatanatyam had lost its identity and there was hardly any reputation for dance. By God's grace there were few poets in southern India who had great respect & regard for dance and they wanted to bring back its glory to the present. Also it was people like Anna Pavlova, E. Krishna Iyer, Udayshankar, Rukmini Devi whose tremendous efforts brought back the beauty of this art and they gave a new life to dance.
Anna Pavlova a renowned Russian Ballerina found Uday Shankar (choreographer), in her troupe and suggested him to discover his own dance heritage. This made a landmark in the history of revival of the dance in India. E.Krishna Iyer, a practicing Barrister and a freedom fighter was destined to play an important role in the revival of Bharatanatyam. E.Krishna Iyer dressed like a female Bharatanatyam dancer and performed in the public to remove the stigma attached to this art. For nearly 7 years he battled with the leaders of the "Anti -Nautch" movement. Rukmini Devi, daughter of respected Sanskrit scholar- A.Nilakanta Shastri decided to enter the field of dance. She took her lessons from Devadasi Gowri Amma & Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai. She gave her first dance recital in 1936.
From then the course of Bharatanatyam changed significantly. She removed unpleasant elements from dance, devised artistic costumes, used 'padams' (An item in Bharatanatyam) to spread the spiritual importance. She contributed a lot in removing the stigma of the eroticism. Bharatanatyam no longer remained base or vulgar. Efforts of these great people and other poets revitalized the traditional beauty of Bharatanatyam.
Manipuri is one of the classical dance forms of India which originates from Manipur - a state in Northeast India.
A Manipuri legend describes the legend origins of Manipuri dance in the 18th century. Manipuri dance is infact a generous name and cover all the dance forms of the land.
'Rasa' dance was performed in Manipuri, known as 'Radha-Krishna' dance but this was later repeated by 'Uma-Shiva' in Manipuri. Manipuri besides Rasa Dance includes 'cholams' and 'laiharaoba' dance.
Laiharaoba is mainly performed in the memory of princess 'Thoibi' and her lover 'Khambu' who died in tragic circumstances. Laiharaoba is an annual festival, a ritual and a dance drama performance all rolled into one and lasting for many days.
Accompaniments and costume
The music that accompanies the dance consists of gongs, drums or dholak, flute, manjira and pena which has a bunch of tiny bells tied on one end of its bow.
Costume- male wear 'Dhoti and angavastra' and female wear stitched costume in which the skirt has a cylindrical shape and there is lot of zari (golden in color) work done on the costume.