Classical Dances of India, Folk Dances of India State Wise List, Top MCQs

Dances in India

Dancing is one of the most ancient art forms in India. There are two main divisions of dance forms, and they are classical and folk.

The Literary sources, inscriptions, excavations and other chronicles provide extensive evidence on this art form.

Classical Dances of India

Classical dance has its roots in vedic time and has a deep divine and religious connection.

The principles of Indian classical dance are laid down in Natyashastra written by Bharatamuni.

One of the important features of Classical dances in India is the guru-shishya parampara, which embodies the concept that knowledge is transferred through gurus.

It is the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Ministry of Culture which can designate any Indian dance as a classical dance.

As of now, there are eight classical dance forms in India. They are discussed below:

1. Bharatnatyam

The important features of Bharatnatyam dance are:

  1. Oldest classical dance.
  2. Its name is derived from Bharatamuni (author of natyashastra) and Natyam (which means dance in Tamil)
  3. Originally performed by Devdasis (Temple dancers) in Tamil Nadu. It was therefore earlier known as Daasi attam.
  4. The famous freedom fighter E.Krishna Iyer revived it after it had become extinct with the extinction of Devdasi system.
  5. Movements involved in Bharatnatyam resemble that of the dancing flame.
  6. Rukmini Devi Arundale was the famous Bharatnatyam dancer and is famous for reforming this dance form.
  7. Famous Bharatanatyam Dancers:- Mallika Sarabhai, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Alarmel Valli, Padma Subrahmanyam, Rukmini Devi, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Arun Dale.

2. Kuchipudi

The important features of Kuchipudi dance are as given below:

  1. Originally performed by Kusselavas, who were a group of actors going from village to village for their performances.
  2. Its name is derived from Kusselavapuri, which is a village in Andhra pradesh.
  3. Bhagvatism introduced it in the temples and such temple kuchipudi dancers came to be known as Bhagathalus.
  4. It achieved prominence under the patronage of Vijayanagara and Golconda rulers.
  5. It is the manifestation of earthly elements in the human body.
  6. Famous Kathakali Dancers:- Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Kalamandalam Gopi, Kalamandalam Nair, Kalamandalam Vasu Prisharody.

3. Mohiniyatam

The important features of Mohiniyatam dance form are:

  1. It is a solo dance form of Kerala that gets its name from “Mohini”, the celestial enchantress of the Hindu Mythology.
  2. ‘Mohini’ means beautiful and ‘Attam’ means dance.
  3. It narrates the story of the feminine dance of Vishnu.
  4. It symbolizes the element of air.
  5. The prominent colour of costumes of Mohiniyattam dancers is white & off-white.
  6. In the dancing act, the feet and legs are kept apart, and Knees are greatly bent and the dancer’s feet are perfectly synchronized with the play of drum.
  7. Famous Mohiniyattam Dancers: Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, Kalamandalam Hymavathy, Sunanda Nair, Gopika Varma, Neena Prasad.

4. Kathakali

The important features of Kathakali dance form are:

  1. It is a dance of Kerala.
  2. Katha means story and ‘kali’ means drama.
  3. It finds its origin in Ramanattam and Krishnanattam dance forms that were performed in temples under the patronage of feudal lords.
  4. Vallathol Narayana Menon revived it after it had become extinct with the extinction of feudal lords.
  5. Kathakali is a dance-drama where the actor does not speak his/her lines.
  6. It is performed in open air or in temple premises, and to light up the area, a brass lamp is used.
  7. It represents the conflict between good and evil.
  8. A very peculiar feature of this dance form is reddening white portion of the eye.
  9. Famous Kathakali Dancers: Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Kalamandalam Gopi, Kalamandalam Nair, Kalamandalam Vasu Prisharody.

5. Odissi

The main features of Odissi classical dance are;

  1. Its name is derived from Odra Nirtya, and it is the classical dance form of Odisha.
  2. Khandariya-Udayagiri caves provide some instances of this dance.
  3. Originally performed by Maharis and originally patronized by the Jain King Kharvela.
  4. Kabichanda Kallicharan Patnaik is credited for its revival after the independence, and Charles Fabri and Indrani Rehman brough it international fame and recognition.
  5. An important feature is the “tribhanga position”, which means three bent forms.
  6. It is also called Mobile Sculpture, as the dancers body form geometrical shapes and patterns.
  7. It symbolises water.
  8. Famous Odissi Dancers: Kelu Charan Mahapatra, Padmashree Pankaj, Prasad Das, Priyambada Hejmadi, Sanjukta Panigrahi, Minati Mishra, Kumkum Mohanty, Oopalie Oparajita, Sangeeta Das.

6. Manipuri

The main features of Manipuri classical dance are:

  1. Classical dance of Manipur.
  2. It is believed to have originated from the celestial dance of Siva and Parvati along with Gandharva in the valley of Manipur.
  3. Vaishnavism made it prominent and it also gained fame after Rabindra Nath Tagore introduced it in ShantiNiketan.
  4. Nagabhanda Mudra is an important feature, and in this mudra the body is curved in the shape of 8.
  5. Famous Manipuri Dancers: Guru Bipin Singh, Rajkumar Singhajit Singh, Darshana Jhaveri, Sohini Ray.

7. Kathak

The important features of Kathak dance are as:

  1. Kathak derives its name from Kathika, which means a storyteller.
  2. It is a traditional dance form of Uttar Pradesh.
  3. It has some islamic influence especially in dancing style and customes, and it got this influence during Mughal period.
  4. Lady Leela Sokhey is credited for its revival in modern times.
  5. It is based on Hindustani Music and is identified with the court tradition in North India.
  6. Jugalbhandi, which means a competitive play between dancer and tabla player, is its important feature.
  7. If this dance is performed without music or chants, then it is called Gatbhaar.
  8. Taranas, Thumris, and Gazals became a part of it during Mughal Period.
  9. Famous Kathak Dancers: Shambhu Maharaj, Sitara Devi, Birju Maharaj, Roshan Kumari, Saswati Sen, Rohini Bhate, Shovana Narayan.

8. Sattriya

The main features of this dance form are:

  1. It is the classical dance form of Assam.
  2. It was introduced by Shankaradeva, a Vaishnava saint of Assam in 15th century AD.
  3. Its name is derived from Sattras (Vaishnava Monastries).
  4. This dance narrates mythological stories of Vishnu.
  5. It is performed in a group by male monks called Bhokots.
  6. It was recognised as a classical dance on November 15 in the year 2000. Hence it is the latest entrant in the list of classical dances.
  7. Gayan-Bhayanar Nach and Kharmanar Nach are its two variants.

So, these were the 8 classical dances of India. Now lets explore the folk dances of India.

Folk Dances of India, State Wise List

Folk dances are performed on various occasions in India like festivals, wedding, arrival of seasons etc. They enrich the cultural landscape of India.

Every state or region has some unique folk dances according to the legends, myths and cultural beliefs prevalent in that state or region.

The folk dances are different from the classical dances in the sense that they are performed by the local people without any formal

The state wise list of important folk dances of India is given below:

Andhra Pradesh, List of folk dances

  1. Vilasini Natyam
  2. Andhra Natyam
  3. Bhamakalpam
  4. Veeranatyam
  5. Deppu
  6. Tappeta Gullu
  7. Lambadi
  8. Dhimsa
  9. Kolattam
  10. Butt Bommalu

Assam, List of folk dances

  1. Bihu
  2. Bichhua
  3. Natpuja
  4. Maharas
  5. Kaligopal
  6. Bagurumba
  7. Naga Dance
  8. Khel Gopal,
  9. Tapal Chongli
  10. Canoe
  11. Jhumura Hobjanai

Arunachal Pradesh, List of folk dances

  1. Aji Lamu
  2. Chalo
  3. Hiirii Khaniing
  4. Popir
  5. Ponung
  6. Pasi Kongki
  7. Rekham Pada
  8. Roppi

Bihar, List of folk dances

  1. Jata-Jatin
  2. Bakho-Bakhain
  3. Panwariya
  4. Sama Chakwa
  5. Bidesia

Chattisgarh, List of folk dances

  1. Gaur Maria
  2. Panthi
  3. Raut Nacha
  4. Pandwani
  5. Vedamati
  6. Kapalik
  7. Bharthari Charit
  8. Chadaini

Goa, List of folk dances

  1. Modni
  2. Jhagor
  3. Khol
  4. Dakni
  5. Shigmo
  6. Ghode

Gujarat, List of folk dances

  1. Garba
  2. Dandiya Ras
  3. Tippani Juriun
  4. Bhavai.

Haryana, List of folk dances

  1. Jhumar
  2. Phag
  3. Daph
  4. Dhamal
  5. Loor
  6. Gugga
  7. Khor
  8. Gagor

Himachal Pradesh, List of folk dances

  1. Jhora
  2. Jhali
  3. Chharhi
  4. Dhaman
  5. Chhapeli
  6. Mahasu
  7. Nati
  8. Dangi

Jammu & Kashmir, List of folk dances

  1. Rauf
  2. Hikat
  3. Mandjas
  4. kud
  5. Dandi nach
  6. Damali.

Jharkhand, List of folk dances

  1. Bidesia
  2. Danga
  3. Karma
  4. Sarahul
  5. Sohrai
  6. Alkap
  7. Paika
  8. Barao
  9. Jhitka

Karnataka, List of folk dances

  1. Yakshagana
  2. Huttari
  3. Suggi
  4. Kunitha
  5. Karga
  6. Lambi

Kerala, List of folk dances

  1. Ottam Thulal
  2. Kaikottikali
  3. Tappatikkali

Maharashtra, List of folk dances

  1. Lavani
  2. Nakata
  3. Koli
  4. Lezim
  5. Gafa
  6. Dahikala Dasavtar or Bohada

Madhya Pradesh, List of folk dances

  1. Jawara
  2. Matki
  3. Aada
  4. Khada Nach
  5. Phulpati
  6. Grida Dance
  7. Selalarki
  8. Selabhadoni
  9. Maanch

Manipur, List of folk dances

  1. Dol Cholam
  2. Thang Ta
  3. Lai Haraoba
  4. Pung Cholom
  5. Nat Rash
  6. Rakhal
  7. Raukhat

Meghalaya, List of folk dances

  1. Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem
  2. Baala
  3. Nongkrem
  4. Laho

Mizoram, List of folk dances

  1. Cheraw Dance
  2. Khuallam
  3. Chailam
  4. Sawlakin
  5. Chawnglaizawn
  6. Zangtalam
  7. ParLam
  8. Tlanglam
  9. Cherokan
  10. Khanatm

Nagaland, List of folk dances

  1. Chong
  2. Khaiva
  3. Lim Nuralim

Odisha, List of folk dances

  1. Savari
  2. Gumara
  3. Painka
  4. Munari
  5. Chhau

West Bengal, List of folk dances

  1. Kathi
  2. Gambhira
  3. Dhali
  4. Jatra
  5. Baul
  6. Marasia
  7. Mahal
  8. Keertan

Punjab, List of folk dances

  1. Bhangra
  2. Giddha
  3. Daff
  4. Dhaman
  5. Bhand
  6. Naqual
  7. Kikli
  8. Jhoomar

Rajasthan, List of folk dances

  1. Ghumar
  2. Chakri
  3. Ganagor
  4. Jhulan Leela
  5. Jhuma
  6. Suisini
  7. Ghapal
  8. Kalbeliya

Sikkim, List of folk dances

  1. Singhi Chham
  2. Chu Faat
  3. Gayley-Yang Dance
  4. Ghantu
  5. Kinchum-Chu-Bomsa
  6. Maarooni Dance
  7. Nyongri – Nyot
  8. Shelo
  9. Shepa Dance
  10. Tamang Selo
  11. Yak Chham

Tamil Nadu, List of folk dances

  1. Kummi
  2. Kolattam
  3. Kavadi
  4. Karagam

Tripura, List of folk dances

  1. Bizu Dance
  2. Cheraw
  3. Dailo Nritya
  4. Gajan
  5. Galamuchamo
  6. Garia Dance
  7. Hai Hak Dance
  8. Hozagiri
  9. Jhum Dance
  10. Lebang Boomani
  11. Sangrai – Mog Dance
  12. Wya Dance

Uttar Pradesh, List of folk dances

  1. Nautanki
  2. Raslila
  3. Kajri
  4. Jhora
  5. Chappeli
  6. Jaita

Uttarakhand, List of folk dances

  1. Garhwali
  2. Kumayuni
  3. Kajari
  4. Jhora
  5. Raslila
  6. Chappeli

Lakshadweep, List of folk dances

  1. Lava
  2. Kolkali
  3. Parichakali

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