What are some popular dances in India and what do they represent?

Popular Dances in India and What Do They Represent?

India is a land of diverse cultures, traditions, and customs. One of the most revered identities of Indian culture is its dance forms. Dance has been an integral aspect of religion, festivals, and celebrations in India. Indian dance is a genre of performance art that consists of improvisational or pre-planned movement routines.

It is a beautiful amalgamation of rhythm, melody, and expression. In India, dance forms can be broadly classified into two categories- classical and folk dance form. In this article, we will explore the various popular Indian dance forms and their representation.

What are some popular dances in India and what do they represent?

India has a rich heritage of classical dance forms that reflect the country’s traditions and cultural diversity. The classical dance forms of India originated from the Natya Shastra, an ancient treatise on theatre written by the mythic priest Bharata.

There are eight classical dance forms in India, namely Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, and Sattriya. These dance forms have been originated from different parts of India as per the local tradition.

Each dance form has its unique style, costume, and representation. Apart from classical dance forms, India is also known for its vibrant and colorful folk dances. Folk dances are an expression of the local culture and traditions of a particular region.

These dances are performed during festivals, weddings, and other celebrations. Some of the popular folk dances of India are Garba, Bhangra, Lavani, Ghoomar, Raas, Dandiya, Kalbelia, Bihu, Yakshagana, and Chhau. These dances are not only a form of entertainment but also a way to celebrate life and express joy.

What is the history of Indian classical dance?

Indian classical dance has a long and rich history spanning over 2000 years. The origins can be traced back to ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts like the Natya Shastra, written sometime between 200 BCE to 200 CE, which codified the rules of drama, dance, music and aesthetics. Dance and performance arts in ancient India were part of sacred rituals and storytelling in temples honoring gods and goddesses.

The classical dance forms as we know them today emerged and evolved during the Hindu revivalist movement in the 10th century. Various regional shrines and royal courts became the centers of cultivation for the major classical Indian dance styles we know today like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam.

The traditions were kept alive by the Devadasis, who were temple dancers dedicated to the temple deity. Over the centuries, Indian classical dance gradually moved from the temples to the courts and stage.

After India gained independence in 1947, the proliferation of classical Indian dances beyond temple contexts led to a cultural revival. In post-independent India, the Sangeet Natak Akademi and other institutes played a key role in recognizing, standardizing and promoting the major classical dance forms across the country.

2. What is the difference between classical and folk dances in India?

The main differences between Indian classical and folk dances are:

  • Classical dances have ancient origins, strict techniques, fixed repertoire and are codified in ancient Sanskrit texts. Folk dances are more spontaneous with flexible choreography that represents the life of common people.
  • Classical dances adhere to rigid rules of aesthetics and grammar. Folk dances have a raw and rustic quality.
  • Training in classical dance starts early and focuses intensely on mudras, footwork and body movements. Folk dances are learned informally.
  • Classical dances like Bharatanatyam and Kathakali may tell stories from Hindu epics and scriptures. Folk dances originate from daily life, festivals, and local legends of common people.
  • Costumes and makeup in classical dances follow tradition, while folk dances use local attire.
  • Classical dances have elaborate musical, rhythmic and poetic accompaniment. Folk dances have catchy regional tunes with simple instruments.
  • Classical dances demand technical virtuosity and follow a guru-shishya parampara. Folk dances are participative and community-oriented.
  • Classical dances adhere strictly to the principles in Natya Shastra. Folk dances are fluid and keep evolving.

So in essence, classical dances are more formal and structured while folk dances are informal expressions of communities. But both are integral parts of Indian culture.

3. What are the most popular classical dances in India?

The most popular and widely practiced classical dance forms in India are:

  • Bharatanatyam – Originated in Tamil Nadu in South India. Noted for sculpturesque poses, rhythmic footwork, hand gestures and impressive spins.
  • Kathak – Originated in North India. Noted for fast pirouettes, complicated footwork and innovative rhythmic patterns.
  • Kathakali – Stylized dance drama from Kerala. Noted for elaborate costumes, masks and makeup. Actors rely on hand gestures and eye movements to convey emotions.
  • Odissi – Graceful dance from Odisha famous for tribhanga posture, fluid movements and expressive acting.
  • Kuchipudi – Energetic dance-drama from Andhra Pradesh noted for fluid movements and swift transitions between poses.
  • Manipuri – Elegant and lyrical dance from Manipur. Gentle movementsseasoned with rhythm.
  • Mohiniyattam – Lyrical dance from Kerala performed by solo women noted for swaying movements and feminine grace.

These 7 classical dance styles are recognized and promoted nationally by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. Apart from these, Sattriya from Assam and Chhau from eastern India have also emerged as classical dances lately.

4. What are the most popular folk dances in India?

India has a vast repertoire of lively and colorful folk and tribal dances. The most popular folk dances reflecting the richness and diversity of the various states and communities are:

  • Bhangra – Vibrant Punjabi folk dance displayed during harvest festival. Performed by men wearing turbans.
  • Garba – High energy women’s dance from Gujarat performed during Navratri festival. Dancers move in a circle, clapping rhythmically.
  • Kalbelia – Sensuous dance by the Kalbelia gypsy women of Rajasthan. Swirling, spinning movements akin to a snake.
  • Chhau – Vigorous masked tribal dance with martial, acrobatic and athletic elements. Performed in east India during spring festivals.
  • Bihu – Graceful folk dance from Assam showcasing their unique culture. Performed during Bihu festivals.
  • Ghoomar – Colorful swirling dance from Rajasthan traditionally performed by women during weddings and festivals.
  • Kolattam – Ancient dance using sticks performed in south India to welcome spring. Highly rhythmic and energetic.
  • Dandiya – Colorful dance involving pairs of baton-like sticks, popular during Navratri in Gujarat.
  • Theyyam – Elaborate ritualistic dance form of Kerala emulating God characters with towering headgears and vibrant makeup.
  • Lavani – Enchanting performance art from Maharashtra showcasing women’s grace and sensuality through song and dance.

These vibrant folk and tribal dances proudly showcase the indigenous identity of their communities. The dances represent the practice of intangible cultural heritage of India.

5. What is the significance of dance in Indian culture?

Dance holds a profound significance in Indian culture and continues to remain among the most dynamic and vibrant expressions of the country. Some key roles dance plays in Indian culture are:

  • Dance is closely linked to Indian mythology, arts and spirituality. Many classical and folk dances enact stories conveying moral and social messages from ancient scriptures and epics.
  • Dance has been an integral part of sacred temple rituals, community bonding and seasonal festivals since ancient times in India.
  • Dance is a medium to display devotion, joy, energy and serve as an offering to Gods. Dance sequences in festivals add to their spectacle.
  • Different classical and folk dance forms with regional variations showcase India’s vast cultural diversity and rich heritage.
  • Dance has an underlying thought of cosmic dance linking the dancer with divinity and the universal order in Indian philosophy.
  • Dance is linked with Indian aesthetic principles like talam (rhythm), bhava (mood) and rasa (emotion) aimed at creating an experience of beauty and bliss.
  • Dance plays a key role in Indian arts like theatre, films and music. Various traditional and contemporary dances are showcased.
  • Dance is an integral part of the Indian identity cutting across boundaries of caste, class, religion, gender and region.

Overall, dance in India is a holistic experience connecting body, mind and soul. It continues to evolve yet maintains its traditional significance.

6. How has Indian dance influenced other cultures?

The rich dance heritage of India has had a profound influence globally. Some key ways Indian dance has impacted other cultures are:

  • Indian films and dance gained international popularity which sparked interest in classical and folk dances of India across the world.
  • Indian immigrant communities have continued classical dance traditions and spread their popularity in places they have settled like North America, Europe, Australia.
  • Interaction between Indian and Southeast Asian cultures since ancient times led to exchange of dance forms seen in similarities between Indian and Balinese dance.
  • Stylistic elements of Bharatanatyam and Odissi are visible in some traditional Thai and Cambodian classical dances.
  • Impact of Indian dance is seen on contemporary and jazz dance in the West. Vice versa, western techniques have also influenced Indian dancers.
  • Indian diaspora choreographers like Akram Khan have blended Kathak with western dance forms like ballet and contemporary creating unique crossover styles.
  • Yoga, originating from India has spread globally. Asanas are said to have an underlying dance-like flow which has influenced contemporary dance and bodywork approaches worldwide.
  • Dance theorists worldwide reference India’s Natya Shastra as among the most ancient roots of the universal phenomenon of dance.
  • Bollywood dance blends Indian folk, classical and western moves. Its glitz and energy has gained immense mainstream popularity globally through media and flash mobs.

Overall, Indian dance has enriched the language, dynamism and diversity of dance worldwide. Its global appeal continues to grow as Indian culture influences the global landscape.

7. What is the role of dance in Indian cinema?

Dance is an integral and lively part of Indian cinema. Its key roles are:

  • Elaborate dance sequences are essential in mainstream Indian films, especially in Bollywood. Dance adds to the spectacle, entertainment and commercial appeal of movies.
  • Songs with dance sequences help convey the mood and storyline progression in films. Choreographed dances transport viewers into the world inhabited by characters.
  • Dance injects energy and vibrancy into films. The choreography showcases Indian dance styles, regional folk dances and contemporary trends.
  • Dances featuring classical styles like Bharatanatyam, Kathak and regional dances represent India’s cultural heritage and diversity to viewers.
  • Dance provides opportunities to film artists besides actors, like choreographers, dancers, musicians to showcase their talent onscreen.
  • Films popularize and make Indian dance styles accessible to the masses, inspiring many to learn these dance forms and keep traditions alive.
  • Dance lends grace, rhythm and movement to the visual medium of cinema enhancing its dynamism and entertainment quotient.
  • Iconic dances in Indian cinema become ingrained in pop culture, trendsetters and nostalgic markers for generations.

So whether as spectacle, art or catalyst, dance remains essential to Indian cinema narrating stories through poetry of body movements that appeal visually and emotionally to viewers.

8. What are some famous Bollywood dance numbers?

Bollywood dance choreography has created some evergreen dance numbers that endure in popularity. Some famous examples are:

  • Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se) – Energetic dance on top of a moving train blending folk and classical.
  • Dola Re Dola (Devdas) – Elegant, emotive duet showcasing Indian grace through Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai.
  • Ek Do Teen (Tezaab) – Iconic, fast-paced dance featuring Madhuri Dixit that launched her stardom.
  • Munni Badnaam Hui (Dabangg) – Featuring Malaika Arora, it sparked the trend of raunchy item numbers.
  • Chikni Chameli (Agneepath) – Katrina Kaif danced in this very popular, westernized bar dance.
  • Tip Tip Barsa Pani (Mohra) – Raveena Tandon’s rain dance number became a sensuous classic.
  • Nagada Sang Dhol (Goliyon ki Raasleela Ram-Leela) – Deepika Padukone dancing Garba energized this festive number.
  • Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire) – Composed for this Oscar-winning film, a high octane dance featuring colors of India.
  • Ghagra (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) – Madhuri Dixit passed the dance baton in this hit number to younger actor Alia Bhatt.
  • Pinga (Bajirao Mastani) – Grandest dance-off showing Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone’s graceful Indian traditional styles.

Bollywood has created hundreds of unforgettable dance numbers over the years that fire up festivals and dance floors. These massively popular songs have shown India’s dance excellence to the world.

9. What is the Natya Shastra?

The Natya Shastra is an ancient Sanskrit text on the performing arts believed to be written around the 2nd century CE by sage Bharata Muni. It is among the oldest comprehensive treatises in the world covering all aspects of dance, drama and music. Key features of Natya Shastra are:

  • It consists of over 6000 verses codifying guidelines on dance, music, stagecraft, makeup, poetry, plot construction, rasa theory and spiritual goals of performance arts in India.
  • The text covers various ancillary arts involved in production like costume, makeup, stage machinery and more. It reflects Indian aesthetic principles.
  • Natya Shastra describes 4 abhinayas – angik (gestural), vachik (verbal), aharya (costumes, makeup), satvik (using emotions) which form the basis of Indian classical dance.
  • It introduces dance as a spiritual tool linking arts with sacred ritual practices. Dance is seen as a means to experience rasa and attain moksha.
  • Natya Shastra classifies drama into 10 categories: nataka (play), prakarana (social themes), dima (romance) etc. Guidelines are given for poetry, plot, characters for each category.
  • It outlines key theoretical concepts like tala (rhythm), raga (melody), bhava (mood), rasa (aesthetic experience) that form the backbone of Indian classical music and dance.

The Natya Shastra provides the earliest written evidence of the arts in India. As a foundational text, it offers priceless insights into the origins of the performing arts in India guiding traditions for centuries.

10. What is the meaning of Mudras in Indian dance?

Mudras refer to the hand gestures and finger positions used extensively in Indian classical dance. They have a very specific meaning and purpose:

  • Mudras are used to convey symbolic meanings and evoke emotions or sentiments during dance performances.
  • Hundreds of mudras with intricate finger, palm and arm positions are codified in Natya Shastra and used in Bharatanatyam, Kathak and other dances.
  • Common mudras include Anjali depicting obeisance or Namaste, Hamsasya symbolizing grace, Suchi showing life, and Pataka indicating flying birds.
  • Mudras establish a sign and gestural language lending depth and substance to the dance. They enable dancers to tell stories and express complex emotions.
  • Different mudras represent characters, actions, animals, birds, nature, virtues and abstract ideas that dancers can embody through hand gestures.
  • Mudras demand dexterity and skill as they involve transitioning between positions seamlessly while coordinating hands with rest of body and footwork.
  • Mudras evolve meaning not just from hand positions, but also the movement, flow and combination of the gestures.
  • The mudras are codified into one handed or Asamyuta and two handed or Samyuta based on Natya Shastra’s hasta mudras and karanas.

Thus, mudras form a vital technical and creative component of Indian classical dance making it a richly nuanced and expressive form of storytelling. They infuse dance with symbolism and grace.

11. What is Bharatanatyam and where does it originate from?

Bharatanatyam is among the oldest and most popular classical dance forms of India that originated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Key facts about Bharatanatyam:

  • It was nurtured in the temples of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses as a form of spiritual devotion.
  • Originally known as Dasi Attam or Sadir, it was practiced by Devadasis who were temple dancers and attained high status in Tamil society.
  • After the Devadasi system declined in the early 1900s, Bharatanatyam was revived by pioneering dancers like Rukmini Devi Arundale and Yamini Krishnamurthy.
  • Known for its grace, precise footwork, stylized gestures and intricate rhythms, Bharatanatyam intensely trains students in disciplines like movement, expression and Hindu mythology.
  • The performances bring alive mythological stories while narrating spiritual themes through a unique dance vocabulary of adavus (basic steps), hand mudras and eye movements.
  • Key postures like theARDHA-MANDALA (half sitting position) and BHARA-MANDALA (one leg turned outward) characterize Bharatanatyam.
  • Costumes feature silk sarees in bright colors, jewelry and flowers worn in hair bun. Live Carnatic music with cymbals, drums and vocals accompanies the dance.
  • Bharatanatyam remains hugely popular in India and internationally today with dancers like Alarmel Valli taking it to global stages and pushing creative boundaries.

12. What is Kathak and where does it originate from?

Kathak is one of the major classical dance forms of India with origins in northern India. Key facts about Kathak dance are:

  • Kathak originated during the Bhakti movement around temples of Hindu god Krishna during the 15th-17th century CE in regions near Mathura and Vrindavan of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Kathak dancers would recount Krishna legends and Radha’s love for Krishna through dance set to Hindustani music with recurring refrains to engage pilgrims.
  • Mughal influence introduced Urdu, Persian elements into Kathak in the court setting. With the Bhakti tradition, it evolved as a distinct dance form by the 17th century.
  • Rapid pirouettes, intricate footwork, graceful spins and innovative rhythmic patterns typify Kathak dance movements.
  • Subtle hand gestures, facial expressions and body postures convey specific meanings and emotions as dancers enact poetry and stories through specialized vocabulary.
  • Costumes feature embroidered ankle-length skirts, jewelry and some head decoration like flowers. Percussion like tabla and swarmandal (hand cymbals) accompany the dance.
  • Kathak remains popular as a classical dance form in India and abroad, though originally a female art form, now practiced equally by men and women.

So Kathak evolved from religious storytelling to an elaborate technique-driven dance style that represents a unique mix of Hindu and Mugh.

What is Kathakali and where does it originate from?

Kathakali is a highly stylized classical dance-drama form from Kerala in southern India. Key facts about Kathakali are:

  • Kathakali originated in the 17th century AD in temples and courts of Kerala where dance-dramas were adapted from Hindu epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic literature.
  • Actors rely on hand gestures, eye movements and facial expressions to convey emotions and action. Elaborate costumes, headgears and heavy makeup of green, red, black colours typify Kathakali.
  • Performances stage mythological stories of gods, demons, heroes and heroines enacting themes of good versus evil through dance set to Kerala’s own Sopana sangeetham music.
  • Intense training is needed to master the intricate dance vocabulary and hand-eye coordination. Themes often depict virtuous characters with blue makeup against evil characters in green makeup.
  • Static Mudras and kinetic hand gestures along with extensive footwork, leaps and squats characterize the unique dance movements.
  • Kathakali follows Keralan traditions like Ayurveda and Kalaripayattu (martial arts) in its seven-decade training emphasizing physical stamina and control.
  • Traditionally an all-male performance, now women also practice Kathakali though public performances remain largely male dominated. The dance-form has gained global fame.

Kathakali is iconic with its expansive costumes, transformative makeup and ancient Hindu roots yet remains a living and evolving dance tradition of Kerala today.

14. What is Kuchipudi and where does it originate from?

Kuchipudi is a popular Indian classical dance form that originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Key facts about Kuchipudi:

  • Kuchipudi originated around the 17th century AD from dance-dramas of traveling troupes known as ‘Bhagavathalu’ who would convey Hindu religious stories through dance and music.
  • In its formative years in the Kuchipudi village, Brahmin male dancers portrayed all roles including female roles due to performance restrictions.
  • With quick rhythmic steps, nimble footwork patterns and swift dancing, Kuchipudi emphasizes fluidity and speed especially in its Tarangams (pure dance sequences without song).
  • Movements include some unique features like dancers balancing brass pots on their head or dancing on the edges of brass plates.
  • Traditionally Kuchipudi incorporated dialogues between dance scenes though modern productions focus mainly on expansive dancing. Costumes are generally in the Kuchipudi sari – pleated sari draped to allow ease in dancing.
  • The dance follows dramatic performance re-enacting scenes through abhinaya. Live Carnatic vocals, tabla and mridangam accompany the performance.

Kuchipudi continues to evolve in choreography and presentation yet retains its traditional roots making it a versatile and adaptive Indian classical dance popular across the world today.

15. What is Manipuri and where does it originate from?

Manipuri is an ancient, lyrical dance form originating from the northeastern state of Manipur in India. Key features of the Manipuri classical dance are:

  • Manipuri has evolved from the folk and ritual dances associated with the ancient regional Vaishnavite tradition centered around worship of Hindu god Krishna and Radha.
  • It is characteristic for its grace, gentle and swaying body movements along with energetic footwork adapted from the martial arts dance Cholom.
  • Raslila dances performed by young girls symbolizing Radha and gopis in love with Krishna are synonymous with Manipuri. Themes revolve around divine love using hand gestures and facial expressions.
  • Costumes feature decorative embroidered long skirts called Potloi and Inaphi veil covering head and upper body. Dancers wear a Bing flower in hair which they exchange during the dance.
  • The repertoire includes solo, duet and group performances. Songs follow ancient edicts called Tirtha that describe Radha-Krishna’s love called the Rasas using poetry, tala, raga.
  • Manipuri vocabulary features swaying body, soft wrist and arm movements, skillful spins and rhythmic footwork in patterns evolved from martial arts.
  • Originally nurtured in temples, Manipuri moved to royal courts by the 18th century. It declined under British rule before revival post-Independence by pioneering dancers.

Graceful, devotional and romantic, Manipuri remains one of India’s most lyrical classical dance forms. Its traditions remain lovingly preserved in Manipur.

16. What is Mohiniyattam and where does it originate from?

Mohiniyattam is an elegant classical dance from Kerala in southern India traditionally performed as a solo recital by women. Key facts about Mohiniyattam:

  • Mohiniyattam gets its name from ‘Mohini’ meaning beautiful woman, as it epitomizes feminine grace and sensuality. The dance form evolved during the 19th century under patronage of the Travancore king.
  • Languorous and sensuous body movements, subtle facial expressions especially eye movements, delicate hand gestures typify Mohiniyattam vocabulary.
  • Costumes feature crisp off-white or ivory sarees with golden brocade borders, jasmine flowers adorning tucked-in hairbun and characteristic gold fan props.
  • Thematic focus revolves around love, nature and themes from Hindu epics rendered through movements set to vocal and instrumental Carnatic music specific to Mohiniyattam.
  • Cholkettu involving graceful steps, Lasyangam showcasing delicate moods, Padabhedam demonstrating footwork are some dance sequences in recitals.
  • Revival by poet Vallathol through Kalamandalam institution, and dancer Sunanda Nair established Mohiniyattam in Kerala’s dance scene and helped popularize it.
  • UNESCO recognized Mohiniyattam as a classical dance in 2010. Noted dancers like Smitha Rajan have continued developing this art ensuring its endurance.

Graceful as its name, Mohiniyattam remains one of India’s finest dance forms celebrated for feminine lyricism and beauty.

17. What is Odissi and where does it originate from?

Odissi is a classical dance originating from the eastern state of Odisha in India. Key facts about Odissi are:

  • Odissi’s origins date back to antiquity in temples and royal courts of ancient kingdom Orissa where it was practiced as a religious dance.
  • Evolved from rituals in temples of Hindu gods Jagannath, Shiva and Vaishnav poets’ works on the divine romance of Radha-Krishna.
  • Focus on bhava (mood) and expressive mudras or hand gestures typify the dance vocabulary along with fluidity and grace. The signature Tribhangi posture involving three-bent body embodies sculptural dance poses.
  • Themes revolve around mythological stories through intricately linked dance sequences called Pallavis. Costumes feature elegant brocade sarees and silver jewellery.
  • Temple destruction in medieval era led to Odissi’s decline. Its revival in the 20th century revived this dance form to its former glory.
  • Got recognition as a classical dance style in 1958. Great gurus like Kelucharan Mahapatra and Sanjukta Panigrahi promoted its awareness.
  • With its historic spiritual roots and technical richness, Odissi stands today as a hallmark of grace, artistry and the cultural legacy of Odisha.

Odissi mesmerizes with its fluid sculpture-like poses narrating mythical tales through expressive dance vocabulary while retaining its traditional allure.

18. What is Sattriya and where does it originate from?

Sattriya is a classical dance style which originated in the eastern state of Assam, India. Key facts about Sattriya dance:

  • Sattriya was born in the 15th century AD within Sattras, neo-Vaishnavite monasteries of Assam as part of worship practices honoring Hindu god Krishna.
  • Originated from the dance repertoire called Ankiya Bhaona – one-act plays enacted by monk dancers to events in Krishna’s life and the Bhagavata Purana. Later expanded beyond temple ritual to wider audience.
  • Sattriya incorporates hand gestures, footwork set rhythmically to classical ragas, and gestures from the Akshara text codifying this art. The costume is of the Bhakat red and white cloth tied at the waist as Dhoti and Kurman over the chest.
  • Performances entail dancers’ expressing spiritual ideas through music and abhinaya. Instrumentation is folk instruments Ma tal to Khanjari tal along with vocals.
  • Decline in the 19th century due to British annexation before revival after independence by Sattriya gurus like Ragini Devi. It gained recognition as the 8th Classical Indian dance style in 2000.
  • Sattras continue their stewardship of Sattriya making it a living practice. The dance remains a sublime medium merging devotion, drama and distinctive Assamese traditions.

Graceful, spiritual and connecting to Assam’s identity, Sattriya brings alive Vaishnavite art and culture through its varied dance repertoire.

19. What is Chhau and where does it originate from?

Chhau is a semi-classical Indian dance with origins in eastern India prominent in states like Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. Key aspects of Chhau dance are:

  • Chhau encompasses three distinct styles today – Purulia Chhau from West Bengal, Seraikella Chhau from Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj Chhau from Odisha named after the regions where each evolved.
  • Originating in indigenous forms of tribal storytelling, martial arts and mock-combat training, Chhau later incorporated classical elements of abhinaya and spiritual themes.
  • Vibrant Chhau dance entails energetic movements, impressive acrobatics and athletic jumps performed by male dancers wearing elaborate masks and costumes.
  • Percussion-heavy musical accompaniment featuring Dhol, Nagara drums and Shehnai woodwinds play during the dance.
  • Repertoire ranges from spiritual narrations of Radha-Krishna, Shiva to themes from epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Folk dances celebrating spring are also performed in Chhau style.
  • Chhau is performed during regional festivals especially spring celebrations like Chaitra Parva. All three styles have annual festivals showcasing performances.
  • Chhau received recognition as an Indian classical dance style in 2010 from Sangeet Natak Akademi for its innovation and historical importance.

With its eclectic mix of elements, regional varieties and kinetic energy, Chhau continues as a dynamic traditional dance theater of India.

20. What is Garba and where does it originate from?

Garba is a vibrant folk dance originating from the state of Gujarat in western India. Key facts about Garba dance are:

  • Garba is performed during the festival Navaratri devoted to the Hindu goddess Durga. Both men and women dressed in traditional attire dance Garba during this nine-day festival.
  • Garba dance movements involve clapping rhythmically and whirling in circles around a central lamp or image of the deity. The circles depict the cyclical nature of time and creation.
  • Traditionally performed around temples or village squares, now Garba is popular in community social gatherings and stage competitions during Navaratri.
  • The traditional costume for Garba is chaniya choli for women – a skirt and short blouse with mirror-work embroidery. Men wear kediyu shirts with kafni pajamas and a turban.
  • The dance is accompanied by live singing or recorded music having devotional lyrics and high-energy beats usually on instruments like dholak drums, manjira cymbals.
  • Raas is a spectacular display of synchronized Garba dancing and Dandiya Raas features colorful, decorated sticks wielded while dancing traditional steps.
  • Garba serves as a medium of community bonding and keeping socio-cultural traditions alive through celebratory participation of all sections of society.

Joyous, devotional and dynamic, Garba epitomizes the spirit and identity of Gujarat bringing people together in festive celebrations united by movement and music.

21. What is Bhangra and where does it originate from?

Bhangra is an energetic folk dance and music genre that originated in the Punjab region of India. Key facts about Bhangra dance are:

  • Performed during Baisakhi festival marking Harvest season, Bhangra was traditionally a dance of Punjabi farmers to celebrate crops and express joy.
  • High leaps, energetic steps and hand movements typify Bhangra. The drumbeat rhythm is emphasized by clapping or rhythmic shouts by dancers.
  • Traditionally an all-men folk dance, women also participate equally today. Colorful embroidered dresses are worn by men and women during dance performances.
  • Subject matter of Bhangra songs often deal with love, kinship, Punjabi culture, nature. Contemporary Bhangra music has gained global popularity through remixes and fusion experiments.
  • Various styles under Bhangra are: Jhummar, Luddi, Giddha, Malwai, Dhamal. Julli is a challenging martial dance.
  • Traditional instruments like Dhol drums, chimta and alghoza accompany the dance. Bhangra has now fused with other music genres too.
  • Bhangra dance has gained international popularity. It remains an important emblem of Punjab’s heritage and expressive energy which intensifies community bonds.

Dynamic, rhythmic and exuberant, Bhangra continues to evolve in form yet always pulsates with the celebratory spirit of Punjab.

22. What is Lavani and where does it originate from?

Lavani is a traditional dance and music performance genre popular in the state of Maharashtra in India. Key facts about Lavani dance are:

  • Lavani originated during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra where female performers called Lavani dancers would sing and dance in the royal courts and later for local folk gatherings.
  • Performed by women, Lavani is characterized by graceful swaying movements and expressive abhinaya to convey sringara rasa or erotic, romantic sentiment through songs.
  • Lavani dancers wear colorful nine-yard saris in traditional Kashta style draped suitably to allow free movement during dance. Accessories like jewellery, flowers in bun are worn.
  • Themes revolve around love, separation, nature or social issues. Dancers emote varied facial expressions and hand gestures to convey the meaning.
  • Folk instruments like Dholki drums, tabla, harmonium accompany dance recitals along with singing in local dialects. Dance sequences named after the songs are presented.
  • Maharashtra Government confers awards to Lavani performers to support this cultural tradition. Lavani remains popular through staged shows and film dance numbers today.

Lavani’s traditions harken to the past yet its lyrical grace retains old-world romantic charm that continues to win admirers in Maharashtra and beyond.

23. What is Ghoomar and where does it originate from?

Ghoomar is a traditional women’s folk dance of Rajasthan state in western India. Key facts about the Ghoomar dance are:

  • Ghoomar means “pirouette”. This dance gets its name from its signature move – graceful pirouette-like spins that form the centerpiece of the dance.
  • Traditionally performed during festivals and special occasions like weddings to welcome guests, in royal courts, at temples or fairs. Today it is showcased on stage too.
  • Ghoomar costumes feature colorful, embroidered long flowing skirts called ghaghra which flare dramatically during pirouettes. Intricate jewellery and accessories complete the attire.
  • Movements include circular stepping patterns with bending knees in time to music, clockwise and anti-clockwise spins, finishing in statuesque poses.
  • Songs usually revolve around Lord Krishna’s tales. Dance is accompanied by traditional Rajasthani folk music instruments like dholak, khartaal, bansuri flute.
  • Ghoomar is closely associated with Rajasthan’s Bhil tribe but is equally popular among other Rajasthani communities. Also staged by professional performers today.
  • UNESCO recognized Ghoomar as an Intangible Cultural Heritage underneed of protection in 2010.

Regal, celebratory and recreational, Ghoomar represents the creative spirit and cultural diversity of Rajasthan’s folk performing arts.

24. What is Raas and where does it originate from?

Raas, also called Dandiya Raas is a traditional folk dance originating from the state of Gujarat in India. Key aspects of the Raas/Dandiya Raas dance are:

  • Raas is associated with Navaratri festival celebrating victory of good over evil. Its performance honors the female embodiment of divinity as Goddess Durga.
  • Dance is performed around a garlanded statue of the Goddess. Both men and women participate, whirling and clapping sticks or dandiya to the beat.
  • Colorful and ornate dandiya sticks are wielded skillfully by dancers in both hands. Complex cadences are created by striking sticks together rhythmically during dance.
  • footwork combined with supple wrist work to move sticks helps dancers strike various poses while circling in rows during Raas.
  • Intricate steps are combined with patterns of dandiya clapping by dancers in concentric circles representing folk imagery.
  • Raas costumes are vibrant chaniya cholis for women, kediyu kafni for men often with embroidered edges for visual impact.
  • Folk songs, hymns and classical music accompany the dance traditionally. Filmi raas songs are popular too.

Raas transforms dandiya from ritual object to rhythmic instrument combining devotion, community bonding and festive energy in fluid motion.

25. What is Dandiya and where does it originate from?

Dandiya is a popular folk dance form from the state of Gujarat performed during Navaratri festival. Key aspects about Dandiya dance:

  • Dandiya dance involves dancing with ‘dandiya’ which are colorfully decorated baton-like sticks made of wood.
  • Dancers strike their own sticks as well as their partner’s sticks in various rhythmic patterns during the dance. This coordinated striking and syncopated movement is the hallmark of Dandiya.
  • Usually performed in pairs, dancers wield a dandiya stick in each hand. Graceful footwork, spins and poses are woven between structured dandiya clapping sequences.
  • Women wear traditional embroidered chaniya choli while men wear kedia and ajrakh print kurta during Dandiya. The costumes add visual brilliance.
  • The dance symbolizes the mock fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura – the good and evil forces. Dandiya sticks represent swords of the Goddess.
  • Folk music with dhol drums, manjira cymbals, and pakhwaj accompanies the dance during the high-energy performance.
  • Raas and Garba are intricately linked to Dandiya which is now also popular on stage, tv and Bollywood adaptations.
  • Dandiya Raas is the spectacular finale of Navaratri festivities, showcasing synchronized dandiya dance by hundreds of participants.

Colorful, rhythmic and steeped in tradition, Dandiya dance is iconic to Gujarat and its identity. The festive community dance retains enduring popularity.

26. What is Kalbelia and where does it originate from?

Kalbelia is an enthralling folk dance and music art form originating from the Kalbelia community of Rajasthan. Key facts about Kalbelia dance:

  • Kalbelia dance is said to have origins in worship rituals and gained popularity through the Kalbelia community of snake charmers and folk performers.
  • Traditionally Kalbelia was performed by women dancers whose movements mimic a serpent’s graceful movements and highlight feminine beauty.
  • Dance movements feature sensuous, fluid spins and waves depicting the twisting, turning motions of a snake through the dancer’s body. Intense hip, torso and feet movements set the pace.
  • Kalbelia dancers wear traditional long, flowing black skirts decorated with silver ribbons and heavy jewelry reflecting Rajasthani styles.
  • Instruments like dholak, khanjari, pungi, and murali (flute) create lively music to which dancers swirl rhythmically as the beat escalates.
  • Songs narrating stories of love, separation, nature accompany the dance. Kalbelia includes costume changes using vibrant dupattas.
  • Kalbelia got global recognition as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2010. Rajasthan’s government also supports Kalbelia artists and performances.

Hypnotic, passionate and artistic, Kalbelia continues to mesmerize audiences with its musical and dance repertoire celebrating Rajasthan’s folk heritage.

27. What is Bihu and where does it originate from?

Bihu is a popular folk dance form from the northeastern state of Assam in India. Key facts about Bihu dance:

  • Bihu dance is associated with Bihu, Assam’s harvest festival celebrated three times a year marking seasons through music and community dances.
  • Both men and women wear traditional Assamese costumes like dhoti, gamocha and participate freely with their own Bihu dance styles.
  • Bihu dance vocabulary uses brisk footsteps, rhythmic hand movements, swaying of hips, side to side body bending along with variations specific to each Bihu – Bohag, Bhogali, Magh.
  • Instruments like Dhol, Pepa, Gogona and Toka lend Bihu dance its pulsating rhythm and earthy character. Songs are based on nature, love, folk tales.
  • Bihu dances depict themes from farming life, local legends and express the celebratory spirit of communities coming together.
  • Government organizes Bihu festivals promoting awareness of indigenous Bihu dances and music that are icons of Assam’s cultural identity.
  • Vibrant, lively and full of verve, Bihu dances symbolize Assamese culture showcasing the spirit, beliefs and creativity of its indigenous communities.

Carefree, traditional and engaging, Bihu dances represent the heart and soul of Assam’s phenomenal folk heritage.

28. What is Yakshagana and where does it originate from?

Yakshagana is a vibrant traditional dance-drama form originating from the state of Karnataka in South India. Key aspects of Yakshagana are:

  • Yakshagana is believed to have originated in the 16th century AD inspired from the epic Mahabharata combining folk and classical elements into an indigenous dance-theater.
  • Elaborate costumes, headgears and brightly colored makeup of characters represent gods, demons, heroes adapted from Hindu mythology.
  • Performances entail actors enacting mythological stories through dialogue, dance set to Carnatic and percussion music by live orchestra led by a maddale drummer.
  • Stylized movements include facial expressions, hand mudras from dance treatise Abhinaya Darpana and forceful footwork as characters depict dramatized episodes.
  • Night-long performances are held in village temple precints lit by torches. Troupes travel through the night to next village in vibrant processions.
  • Karnataka’s Tulu-speaking region is the heartland and stronghold of Yakshagana theater though it is staged across Karnataka and popular outside too.

Flamboyant, passionate and musical, Yakshagana is a vibrant dance-drama style that vividly brings myths and legends to life in classic Karnataka tradition.

29. What is Kalaripayattu and how is it related to dance?

Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial arts form originating in Kerala, that has an influence on dance. Key aspects relating Kalaripayattu to dance:

  • Kalaripayattu’s movement vocabulary incorporates dance-like techniques with rhythmic steps, swirling moves, jumps and spinning positions designed for combat training.
  • Agility, stamina, finesse gained through the rigorous physical training of Kalaripayattu helps dancers, especially in Kerala’s traditional dance forms.
  • Mohiniyattam and Kathakali dancers undertake Kalaripayattu training to build flexibility and control over movement requiring precision and balance.
  • Linkages of Kalaripayattu with dance are evident in similar exercise repertoire, footwork patterns, mudras and shared space in Kalari training halls and temples.
  • Stylized Kalaripayattu demonstrations showcase its dance-like synchronized formations, set to percussion like chenda and ilathalam.
  • Shared principles of dedication, guru-shishya parampara, developing mind and body control are valued in Kalaripayattu and classical dance disciplines.
  • Kalaripayattu’s combat techniques were also incorporated into dance dramas and ritual art forms related to Hindu temples and festivals in Kerala.
  • UNESCO recognized Kalaripayattu as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2018, highlighting its historic influence on dance and other performing arts in India.

Kalaripayattu’s ascent, rhythmicity and disciplined training resonates in Kerala’s dance movement adding grace, dynamism and symbolic meanings.

30. What is the significance of dance in Hindu mythology?

Dance has a profound significance in Hindu mythology and religious traditions:

  • The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of Dance symbolizes the cycle of creation and destruction in the universe.
  • Lord Shiva imparted the knowledge of Bharatanatyam to goddess Parvati, showing the divine origins of dance.
  • Lord Krishna’s divine dance with gopis – Raslila expresses supreme love and the emotional bond between deity and devotees.
  • Goddess Lakshmi’s dance symbolizes prosperity and joy. Saraswati’s dance bestows wisdom and learning.
  • Dances of demons like Mahishasura represent vanquishing evil. Dances of Lord Ganesha and Muruga portray triumph of good.
  • Dance of Shiva as the eternal dancer is said to represent his five activities – shrishti (creation), sthiti (preservation), samhara (destruction), tirobhava (illusion), anugraha (emancipation).
  • Hindu mythology has inspired traditional Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi which depict tales of gods, goddesses and devotional themes.
  • Temple sculptures in India depict over 108 dance positions of Lord Shiva codified in Bharathanatyam.
  • Dance is seen as a spiritual tool to experience divine joy or ananda and attain moksha or self-realization in Hinduism.

As ritual, art and metaphor, dance is interwoven intricately in Hindu mythology and Indian aesthetics.

31. What is the role of dance in Indian weddings?

Dance plays an integral role in traditional Indian wedding celebrations reflecting regional cultures:

  • In pre-wedding celebrations like sangeet, family and friends dance joyously often in groups to popular Bollywood numbers, bhangra, Rajasthani ghoomar.
  • Traditional dances like garba are adapted for the sangeet ceremony. Dance performances by professional artists are also staged.
  • Brides showcased their dancing skill through solo mujra or lavani dances in some communities earlier. This continues as staged shows in modern weddings.
  • Ceremonies like haldi feature folk dances like chudi or giddha where women sing wedding songs while clapping rhythms.
  • Groom makes a dancing entry to the wedding on a mare with family dancing in celebratory baraat procession in North India.
  • Friends and relatives dance with much fanfare to welcome the newly wed couple to festive music during reception.
  • In South India, marriages begin with kacheri kolam – dance invitation to the family deity.
  • Post wedding, dances like Bihu are held to celebrate the union of families and kinship bonds.

Expressing elation, veneration and cultural heritage, dance accentuates the festive spirit, color and dignity of Indian wedding rituals.

32. What is the significance of dance in Indian festivals?

Dance is an integral component of festivals celebrated across India:

  • Folk dances like garba and dandiya are inextricable from the Navratri festival of Gujarat. Chhau masks feature in spring processions.
  • Complex kolattam stick dances are staged during Pongal harvest festival of South India by community participation.
  • Raslila dances dramatize Radha-Krishna’s eternal love during Janmashtami celebrations of Lord Krishna’s birth.
  • Dance drama of Ramayana – Ramleela is enacted during Dussehra festival celebrating Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana.
  • Temple dancers performed rituals through dance as part of festivals like Onam paying obeisance to presiding deities.
  • Martial dance forms like kalaripayattu were showcased in temple festivals of Kerala including the iconic Thrissur Pooram.
  • Festive folk dances like Cheraw of Mizoram, Losar of Sikkim inject regional flavor and community spirit into Indian festivals.
  • Dance competitions are commonly held during festivals providing platforms to young talent to showcase classical and folk repertoire.
  • Bollywood dance medleys and social dancing to filmi songs is a contemporary fixture during modern Indian festival celebrations.

Dance spells festive fervor, from traditional rituals to modern revelry – encapsulating the cultural richness of Indian festivals.

33. What is the impact of globalization on Indian dance?

Globalization has impacted Indian dance in multiple ways:

  • Indian diaspora has contributed immensely to the global awareness of India’s classical and folk dances by establishing dance schools and organizing performances internationally.
  • Transnational collaborations between Indian and western choreographers are reinterpreting traditional vocabulary through creative crossovers and experimental styles.
  • Contemporizing of classical dances by incorporating modern props, sets, music allows creative growth beyond traditional bounds and appeals to new global audiences.
  • Fusion dance where western forms like ballet or jazz are blended with Indian movements has emerged with globalized interconnections. Dance reality shows on TV promote this fusion.
  • Western dance wear like leotards are often combined with elements of Indian costume giving a modern touch for global viewership. Reaching wider audiences is prioritized.
  • Discussions around colonial-era Devadasi dance practice led to dialogue on social issues and agency of dancers with reference to Indian classical dance today in a global context.
  • Technical virtuosity, innovative multimedia and global marketing help position Indian dance styles on world stages as professional performing arts rather than as ethnic exotica.

Globalization facilitated renewed Indian cultural pride yet risk of appropriation exists. Indian dance continuously evolves balancing traditional roots and global influences.

34. What is the future of Indian dance?

Indian dance has an illustrious past and the following trends point to its evolving future:

  • Classical training methods will adopt more scientific movement techniques along with traditional guru-shishya parampara to ensure proper pedagogy and prevent dance injuries.
  • Technological aids like virtual classrooms, video tutorials and digital archiving of performances will augment offline dance learning and awareness of Indian dance heritage.
  • Fusion styles fusing Indian dance with Western/Asian and transnational collaborations will grow giving rise to innovative new vocabularies and intercultural understanding.
  • Besides stage shows, immersive performances in intimate and interactive settings will expand using multimedia, theater, cross-genre designs to engage audiences.
  • Experimental contemporary choreography will push creative boundaries reinterpreting Indian dance themes and technique beyond traditional vocabulary.
  • Support for marginalized communities to nurture their indigenous dance forms will ensure inclusivity and survival of endangered folk traditions.
  • Competitive dance shows on television will continue playing a role in popularizing Indian dance amongst the masses, especially youth.
  • Apart from art, therapeutic applications of Indian dance will be researched and grow as its health benefits and mindfulness become evident.

With its foundations intact, Indian dance looks poised to reinvent, diversify and captivate globally in the 21st century.

35. What is the role of technology in Indian dance?

Technology is shaping Indian dance in the following ways:

  • Virtual classrooms, video tutorials and online lectures during pandemic enabled continuity of dance teaching while expanding reach.
  • Digital media offers wider exposure to performances through online streaming platforms. Dancers leverage social media for teaching, collaborations.
  • Dance notation and ancient texts being digitized facilitate global transmission of theoretical knowledge benefiting research.
  • Software tools aid innovative choreography through techniques like motion capture technology applied to dance movements.
  • Lighting, projections, computerized stage effects enhance spectacle and impact of live productions blending technology with tradition.
  • Television shows, interviews and documentaries accessible online popularize classical and folk dances among the masses.
  • YouTube, Instagram supply endless reference material aiding self-taught learners though direct guru guidance still heavily impacts progress.
  • Camera angles, closeups enrich screen viewing experience. Editing enables imaginative filming of compositions.
  • Tools like teleimmersive technology enable real-time connect for transnational collaborations and remote performances with virtual interaction.

While in-person training is integral, technology enables Indian dance to become more accessible and evolve creatively on global platforms.

36. What is the impact of social media on Indian dance?

Social media has impacted Indian dance in both positive and concerning ways:


  • Enables dancers to share performances, coordinate with collaborators, network and promote their art globally bypassing gatekeepers.
  • Offers platforms to disseminate awareness about Indian dance heritage reaching those without access to live performances.
  • Learning resources proliferate on Instagram and YouTube facilitating self-instruction in both classical and contemporary styles.
  • Virality via reels and shares helps generate buzz around productions capturing new audiences.
  • Provides representative spaces to marginalized dance communities to assert cultural identities and get support.
  • Direct unmediated access to stalwarts and newcomers energizes aspiring dancers with inspiration and guidance.


  • Promotes cookie-cutter globalized aesthetics throughInstagram trends affecting regional diversity.
  • Public trolling, comparisons promote anxiety rather than holistic competitive spirit affecting mental health.
  • Raises ethical concerns like cultural appropriation, fair attribution, commodification and consent.
  • Risk of dilution of traditional learning which involves rigorous offline immersion and spiritual tenets.
  • Attention spans for full-length productions decrease with shareable snippets going viral.

While democratizing dance, social media needs mindful usage as superficial engagement can undermine deeper nuances of Indian dance.

37. What is the role of dance education in India?

Dance education plays a pivotal role in India:

  • Specialized dance schools and universities like Kalakshetra provide rigorous training for aspiring professionals in techniques, repertoire, theory and stagecraft.
  • Structured long-term pedagogy enables dancers to imbibe subtleties of form, movement, expression guided by immersive guru-shishya grooming.
  • Degree courses confer credibility, improving employability of dancers in fields like performing arts, choreography, academics.
  • Festivals, seminars and workshops organized by institutes facilitate continued development of talents and exposure to diverse styles.
  • Documentation of dance forms through academic research aids preservation of heritage for posterity. Libraries and archival resources are maintained.
  • Performances of academic institutions during festivals promote cultural inclusivity showcasing regional diversity.
  • Outreach initiatives take Indian dance to disadvantaged communities and schools fostering interest through lectures and demonstrations.
  • Publishing dance literature expands theoretical discourse through critical analysis on dance forms, aesthetics and social contexts.

Dance education in India integrates the traditional and contemporary – instilling higher capabilities, sensitivity and professionalism beneficial to the evolving dance landscape.

38. What is the significance of dance competitions in India?

Dance competitions play a notable role in Indian dance:

  • They inspire high standards of professional excellence, technique and versatility motivating dancers to outperform.
  • Getting feedback from esteemed judges helps dancers self-evaluate and improve. Winners gain visibility and prestigous platforms to showcase talent.
  • Competitions induct fresh energy and talent into the dance sphere beyond established performers revealing new possibilities.
  • They promote discipline, stage experience and competitive spirit in young dancers as part of learning.
  • Reality television dance shows garner mass popularity and introduce classical and folk dances to mainstream audiences.
  • Inter-college/university competitions provide opportunities to youth including non-urban students to represent their culture.
  • Winning titles can facilitate entry of dancers into professional circuit. It tests mettle beyond practice studios.
  • Holding contests during festivals fosters community participation and brings enthusiasts together.
  • Criticism is competitions sometimes promote cookie-cutter global styles over regional essence and diversity.
  • Over-emphasis on winning can compromise artistry, meaning and enjoyment of dance as a personal journey.

While building excellence, competitions also risk making dance a commercial rather than spiritual and creative endeavor for impressionable youth. Thus a balanced approach is required.

39. What is the role of government in promoting Indian dance?

Government plays a key role in nurturing Indian dance:

  • Central government bodies like Sangeet Natak Akademi and Lalit Kala Akademi recognize, honor eminent dancers and gurus upholding traditions.
  • National and state academies for dance, culture provide institutional support for teaching, training and archiving dance heritage like rare manuscripts.
  • Govt funding facilitates organizing classical and folk dance festivals that help emerging and established dancers showcase their work.
  • Dance is included in youth cultural exchange programs domestically and internationally to promote awareness of India’s dance diversity.
  • State and central academies research, document and publish books on Indian dance making theoretical discourse accessible.
  • Government scholarships help students pursue diplomas and degrees in Indian dance forms enabling professional education.
  • Grants are allocated for dance gurus to nurture their art and support disadvantaged students with potential, especially in rural areas.
  • Policies for inclusive dance education, upgrading facilities in underprivileged regions can help democratize dance learning.

While preserving traditions, adequate government support and progressive policies can make Indian dance thrive as a contemporary evolving art.

40. What is the impact of tourism on Indian dance?

Tourism impacts Indian dance in multiple aspects:


  • Performances at hotels, restaurants and festivals organized for tourists showcase India’s varied dance heritage to the world.
  • Tourism revenues enable dancers and organizations to sustain dance education, training, research and performances that require patronage.
  • Adaptations like shortening recitals and folksy costumes cater to tourist needs providing employment to dancers.
  • Demand from foreign tourists motivates tourism ministries to allocate funds to organize mega cultural festivals promoting arts like dance.


  • Packaging cultures as saleable commodities can risk diluting the meaning and sanctity of dance arts.
  • Tourist shows often lack context about deeper spiritual roots of dances catering only to visual appeal and marketplace demands.
  • Focus shifts from technique, classicism and spiritual ethos to entertainment value in tourist-centric events.
  • Economic motives in cultural tourism can deprive local access and art development. Indigenous art forms may get excluded.

While expanding global awareness, tourism’s commercial aspects need sensitive handling so that Indian dance retains its essence and evolves sustainably.


Indian dance forms are an important aspect of the country’s art and culture syllabus. The classical and folk dances of India reflect the rich traditions and heritage beautifully. Each dance form has its unique style, costume, and representation.

What are some popular dances in India and what do they represent?

Dance is not only a form of entertainment but also a way to express emotions, celebrate life, and connect with the divine. We hope this article has given you an insight into the popular Indian dance forms and their representation. Consider reading other articles we wrote about Indian Culture like >>>>> How do Epics and Mythology Contribute to Indian Culture? to learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *