Since time immemorial, man’s religious devotion has been the mainspring for such art forms as music, singing, and dance. To learn Indian dances is to capture the magic of the Indian character as he venerates his gods all the way back in history.
One can even see its early origins in paintings in cave walls dating back to the 1st century.
And just like India’s huge number of languages, the Indian dance is as varied and many as the regions they came from.
Once a temple dance, the Odissi dance from Orissa is regarded as one of the most important contributions to Indian culture. It is said that the dance is full of grace, poise and magic and that every step is like poetry in motion.
The main theme of the dance is primarily the enactment of love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Much of the magic is done by the “mudras” or the hand movements where one cannot take his eyes off from such grace and fluency of movement.
Aside from Odissi, there are many dance forms in Orissa, most of which are tribal and folk dances. The main folk dance is the Chau dance.
The dance is all about combat and fighting, with enacted scenes taken from the religio-literary epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. It has very quick foot and hand movements, although the overall grace is never compromised.
Dances from Jammu and Kashmir are legendary for their beauty. They have special dances for all occasions like births, weddings, harvests, etc. Ruf is the most famous dance performed as a welcome for spring. The inspiration is the bee and the dance is the lovemaking of bees.
This is danced by boys (or men dressed as boys) usually for marriage ceremonies. The dancers do not only dance but sing the music as well.
This is done mostly on Lori festival, and this dance needs highly skilled dancers. A model peacock made of bamboo and paper is used as props and is a part of the choreography with the hitting of sticks, among others.
Actually, this is a form of singing. Entertaining songs are sung reflecting the present social and political conditions in the village. The singers go from village to village during harvest season and compose on the spot the songs appropriate to the village.
This famous dance from Punjab to welcome spring is sometimes called the dance of beats. Today, the songs sung along with the dance are now fused with hip hop or reggae music.
This all-women dance is preformed usually on festivals or marriages, depicting the different phases of life in a Punjabi woman.
Kikli combines dance and game, and is very popular with young women. Essentially, this dance is combined with singing songs about family and life in general.
This dance is performed by Gond and Oraon tribes during the start and end of the rainy seasons.
This is performed by boys and girls of the tribe with the accompaniment of drums. Usually they performed the dance during marriage ceremonies.
The dance is done to please the gods and get his blessings for a rich harvest. Boys and girls take part in this dance with a very soothing music. The kids sometimes choose their lifetime partners during the dances and their later marriage as adults is duly approved by everyone.
All in all, you can learn a nation’s soul through its arts. Learning Indian dances is capturing the magic of the Indian persona as expressed through the dances.