Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Introduction to and Definition of Indian Classical dance

Indian classical dance 

is a relatively new umbrella term for various codified art forms rooted in Natya, the sacred Hindu musical theatre styles, whose theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni (400 BC).

The term "classical" (Sanskr. "Shastriya") was introduced by Sangeet Natak Akademi to denote the Natya Shastra-based performing art styles. A very important feature of Indian classical dances is the use of the mudra or hand gestures by the artists as a short-hand sign language to narrate a story and to demonstrate certain concepts such as objects, weather, nature and emotion. Many classical dances include facial expressions as an integral part of the dance form.

These are:
  • Dances performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals were called Agama Nartanam. Natya Shastra classifies this type of dance form as margi, or the soul-liberating dance, unlike the desi (purely entertaining) forms.
  • Dances performed in royal courts to the accompaniment of classical music were called Carnatakam. This was an intellectual art form.
For lack of any better equivalents in the European culture, the British colonial authorities called any performing art forms found in India as "Indian dance". Even though the art of Natya includes nritta, or dance proper, Natya has never been limited to dancing and includes singing, abhinaya (mime acting). These features are common to all the Indian classical styles. In the margi form Nritta is composed of karanas, while the desi nritta consists mainly of adavus.

 Dance forms

Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight Indian dance styles (see table below), while the Encyclopædia Britannica mentions six recognized schools and other sources state there are eight dance forms.
Dance form      State(s) of origin
Bharatanatyam      Tamil Nadu
Kathak      Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh
Kathakali      Kerala
Kuchipudi      Andhra Pradesh
Manipuri      Manipur
Mohiniyattam      Kerala
Odissi      Orissa
Sattriya      Assam

11 July 2012

Classical Indian dancers

In the ancient scriptures, a professional danseuse was called "patra". The AbhinayaDarpana has a sloka that describes Patra Prana Dasha Smrutaha - the ten essential qualities of the professional dancer: 
Javaha (agility), Sthirathvam (steadiness), Rekhacha (graceful lines), Bhramari (balance in pirouettes), Drishtir (glance), Shramaha (hard work), Medha (intelligence), Shraddha(devotion), Vacho (good speech), and Geetam (singing ability).

According to Abhinayadarpanam, one of the two most authoritative texts on Classical Indian dance, a patra must be young,slender,beautiful,large-eyed,with well-rounded breasts,self-confident,witty,pleasing,capable of keeping time (following the rhythm)splendidly dressed of a happy disposition.

11 July 2012

1 comment:

  1. Great to see that you are able to have your personal touch to your blog - how about photos of local dance representations for the future? or some short videos and your explanations of their significance?