8 Classical Dance Forms of India

 8 Classical Dance Forms of India

Bangalore, India – September 27, 2014: Renowned odissi dancer Mrs.Sharmilla Mukherjee performs odissi along with her disciples in an event entitled “Kinkini Nrityotsava”, literally means the festival of dance. “Nrityothsava” is an annual event dedicated to promote Indian classical dances organised by the well-known Kinkini school of dance. The event is arranged at JSS auditorium in south of Bangalore this year. Odissi is a classical dance style of Orissa state in the east coast of India.

Indian Classical Dance shows the rich diversity of the country. India is known to have diverse culture. From food to songs to dances, there is diversity in everything. Each state has their own traditions and cultures. The traditions are followed by the people with utmost enthusiasm. Every individual is proud of the traditions followed. In the same manner, there are numerous classical dances.

There are broadly eight types of dance forms. The names are as follows:


All of these dance forms have been in the culture for a long time. These indian classical dances are practised and preserved by many dancers. Let’s look at their details in depth.


Young attractive woman dancer of classical indian dance bharatanatyam, dressed in special dance suit and jewellery set, is demonstrating symbolic poses of ancient folk dance.

Bharatnatyam is the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu. The word ‘bharatnatyam’ has a special meaning. It is a mixture of expressions, music, rhythm and dance. It has been an important part of South Indian temples. The dancers dancing at the temple were called Devadasis. Carnatic classical music is the main music of this dance.

The costume primarily consists of dhoti. This dhoti is made up of Kanchipuram Silk. Along with it a Choli which is of the same colour. This classical dance traces its origin back to 2000 years ago. This dance form is considered to be revealed by Lord Brahma.



Portrait of very beautiful Indian girl dancer wearing traditional Indian saree and jewellery, in the posture of Indian dance. Indian classical dance.

Kuchipudi is the classical dance form of Andhra Pradesh. It was originated in the village of Krishna district. The female dancer wears a saree with a pleated cloth. The male dancers wear dhoti. Both male and female tie ghungroos in their legs. The Sutradhara or Nattuvanar recites the music syllables to produce rhythmic beat. Some of the popular dancers of this dance form are Indrani Bajpai, Yamini Krishnamurti, etc. They conduct public performances of this dance form. Certain musical instruments are also used. Some of them are mridangam, tambura, cymbals, veena, flute, etc.


Kathak is the classical dance form of Uttar Pradesh. This classical dance is one of the most recognised one. It is considered to be originated from travelling bards. The dance form has a mix of many things. It involves mudras, facial expressions, foot movement, etc. it is considered to be existing from the time of Krishna. The Jaipur, Banaras and Lucknow Gharanas are the famous gharanas. They emphasise on the footwork and acting of this classical dance. This dance is popular in Hindu and Muslim community.

There are two types of costumes worn by females. The first costume consists of saree, blouse and an odhni. The second costume consists of an embroidered skirt, blouse and odhni. The male dancers wear silk scarves and dhotis. Both male and female dancers have to wear ghungroos. Pandit Birju Maharaj is considered to be the most prominent personality of this classical dance form. He is the son of Acchan Maharaj and a scion of the Maharaj family.


Odissi is the classical dance form of Odisha. It emphasises on the attitude of devotion and surrender. This is also reffered to as Bhakti Bhava. It is considered to be the oldest dance form of India. In the earlier times, this dance was performed in the temples. The chief repositories of this dance was considered to be Maharis for centuries. The degeneration of this art form was brought because of them. They came to the royal courts by leaving temples. It is based on Abhinaya Darpan and Natya Shastra.


Manipuri is the classical dance form of Manipur. This dance is quite related to folk and traditions of the community. Krishna’s life is divided into sections to pick the theme from. It emphasises sinuous postures. Rabindranath Tagore brought teachers to at Shantiniketan to promote this dance form. This dance is considered to be very smooth and graceful. This classical dance is also known as Jagoi.





Sattriya is the classical dance form of Assam. The primary purpose of Sattras were to propagate Vaishnavism. This dance form has got its name from here. The fundamentals are related to Abhinaya Darpan, Natya Shastra and Srihastamuktawali. It can be divided into two styles namely Paurashik Bhangi and Stri Bhangi. The Paurashik Bhangi is the masculine style or the Tandava. The Stri Bhangi is the feminine style or the Lashya. In this dance, six types of pratyang, anga and upang are there. Along with it are nine types of gatived and shiraved. Gribaved are of four types and Dristived are of eight types.


Mohiniyattam is the classical dance form of Kerala. It is also known as the dance of the enchantress. It is performed for in the respect and devotion of Lord Vishnu. He was considered to take the form of Mohini. By doing so, he distracted the demon Bhasmasur. This is the basic reason of the existence of this dance form. The body movement, facial expressions and footsteps are graceful.


This image is the posture and facial expression of famous indian classical dance kathakali. which is performed at south indian state of kerala.

Kathakali is also the classical dance form of Kerala. It was originated about 300 years ago. Every movement that is performed has a great significance. The faces of the dancers are painted in bright colour. The costume is considered to be quite elaborate. It consists of pacha, kathi, thadi, kari and minukku. The mudras involved is a structured sign lanuguage. The kathakali music involves maddalam and chenda.

Chetna Singh

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