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The etymological root of the word ‘Chhau’ is traced to the Sanskrit ‘Chhaya’ or shade, referring to the mask used by the dancers. Chhau dance is evidently a war dance. The steps and movements, the attack and defence, the performers, each holding a sword and shield.

Chhau Classical DanceThemes are based on mythology, everyday life, aspects of nature or just a mood or emotion. Rituals connected with Chhau spread throughout the year beginning from Dussehra. Actual training of the Chhau starts from the day of ‘Sri Panchami’. A number of rituals are performed primarily to call upon the divine blessing.

Music is based on Hindustani Ragas. The accompaniment is with a Nagra, a huge kettledrum, Dhol, a cylindrical drum, and Shenais or reed pipes.

It is a type of dance, which takes utmost care in expressing emotion and feeling – anger, fear, laughter, wonder or sorrow. Chhau dance follows certain fundamental traditions of the classical modes as detailed in the ancient treatises.The solo dancers were simply displaying stylised vigorous movements with sword and shield in hands.

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Odissi Classical DanceIn Orrisa Odissi is the traditional dance and probably owes its origin to the temple dances of the ‘Devadasis’. The Odissi dancers use their head, bust and torso in soft flowing movements to express specific moods and emotions.

The history of Odissi dates back to somewhere between the 8th and the 11th century, when the kings took great pride in excelling in the arts of dance and music.Jayadeva’s “Geeta-Govinda”, the Bible of an Odissi dancer, written in the 12th century, has stupendous influence on the arts of Orissa.

Odissi performances are replete with lores of the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, Lord Krishna. It is a soft, lyrical classical dance which depicts the ambience of Orissa and the philosophy of its most popular deity, Lord Jagannath, whose temple is in Puri.

Odissi Classical DanceOdissi technique is based on the “Chowka”, a manly posture, and the weight of the body is distributed equally on both the sides. About Odissi interesting is that body position is not merely a part of the vocabulary or framework.

Odissi dancer costume is a silk saree draped in a practical and comfortable style. Wears on the head ornament called the “Mathami”, on ears “Kapa”, on wrists “Kankana”

Today Odissi is a well established and codified classical dance form of India.

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Kuchipudi Classical DanceKuchipudi, one of the art forms of the South had its origin in Andhra Pradesh. Actors sing and dance, and the style is a blend of folk and classical.

Lyrics used in Kuchipudi are usually in Telugu, though Sanskrit verses are also not uncommon.

Kuchipudi dance-dramas, each present a particular episode or a series of episodes. A solo recital, on the other hand, typically consists of such items as the ‘Sabdam’, ‘Bhama kalapam’ which is the main item, ‘Padams’ and ‘Tarangams’. In ‘Bhama kalapam’, the dancer has enormous scope for the dramatisation of characters.

Kuchipudi is a perfect balance between “Nritta”, “Nritya” and “Natya”. The Nritta is a rhythmic sequence that concludes a song; the Nritya or “Sabdams” in which the rhythmic passages are followed by interpretations and Natya is a complete dance drama with storyline and characters.

Orchestral music is used for began the play which included Mridanga, Madala and a pair of cymbals, followed by an invocation to a deity and appearance of Ganesha, the elephant headed Kuchipudi Classical DanceGod to bless the performance.

It contained some very complicated items of original footwork such as tracing out an outline of a lion or an elephant with the 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.

Today Kuchipudi is considerably a different style of dance form than it originally used to be. In most of the cases it is now a solo performance done by female dancers.

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Kathakali classical danceKathakali classical dance of Kerala owes its transnational fame to the nearly 300-year-old.

Kathakali literally means story-play and is an elaborate dance depicting the victory of truth over falsehood. Themes revolve around the two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha.

A Striking feature of Kathakali is the use of elaborate make-up and colourful costumes. This is to emphasize that the characters are superbeings from another world.

The spectators can feel his invisible presence when the heroine or her maid details dreams and ambitions through circular movements, delicate footsteps and subtle expressions. Through slow and medium tempos, the dancer is able to find adequate space for improvisations and suggestive bhavas or Kathakali classical danceemotions.

Costume is designed with lots of paint applied on the face of the artist. The pomp and magnificence of Kathakali is partly due to its decor, part of which include the ‘Kireetam’ or huge head gear, the ‘Kanchukam’ or the over sized jacket, and the long skirt worn over a thick padding of cushions.

Make-up which is of five types- Pacha, Kathi, Thadi, Kari and Minukku.

Filed under: CLASSICAL DANCES, ,


Bharatanatyam, whose antiquity is well established, is the most popular of Indian dances, which said to be Bharata Natyam Classical Danceoriginated in Thanjavoor (Tanjore) of Tamil Nadu. Bharatanatyam is a purest form of classical dance

These three concepts comes into play in Bharatnatayam Bhava, Raga and Thaala.

Bharata Natyam dance has been handed down through the centuries by dance teachers (or gurus) called nattuwanars and the temple dancers, called devadasis. In the sacred environment of the temple these familes developed and propagated their heritage.

The training traditionally took around seven years under the direction of the nattuwanar who were scholars and persons of great learning. The four great nattuwanars of Tanjore were known as the Tanjore Quartet and were brothers named Chinnaiah, Ponnaiah, Vadivelu and Shivanandam. The Bharata Natyam repertiore as we know it today was constructed by this talented Tanjore Quartet.

Bharatanatyam was again revived by activists and dancers like Rukmini Devi and E.Krishna Iyer. Rukmini Devi started the institution “Kalakshetra” in 1936, and since then there has been a wave of reform. Today many recognised universities offer degrees in Bharatanatyam, and artistes are given international recognition and honours. In Bharatnatyam rhythm and enactment go hand in hand to create a beautiful whole. Bharata Natyam Classical DanceToday there are innumerable male and female dancers all over India and more and more are taking up performing arts as a profession.

The music of Bharatanatyam is based on Carnatic classical music. The chief musical instruments in Bharata Natyam are the ‘Mridangam’ and a pair of cymbals. Sometimes Veena, Violin, Ghatam and Flute are also used.

The costumes of the dancer are very gorgeous, which consists of ‘Paijama’ or Dhoti and jacket of Kanchipuram silk and Banaras silk. Women wear a tight fitting ‘Choli’ or bodice of the same colour and material as the dhoti.

Filed under: CLASSICAL DANCES, ,

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