Traditional dance in India

Dance, baby, dance! (Brief history of famous dance forms)

India. A land of monuments, rich cultural heritage, gold, spices, what not! But, this just doesn’t end here, it’s also a land of a whole variety of dance forms. Some well known, some seen over and over in the movies, while others confined to local festivities.

Some famous dance forms

1) One of the best known dance forms in India is the dance of the Mudras – symbolic hand movements and gestures. This is none other than the traditional dance of Tamil Nadu – Bharathnatyam.

Rukmini Devi Arundale- A pioneer of Bharatnatyam during one of her dances
Rukmini Devi Arundale- A pioneer of Bharatnatyam during one of her dances

But here’s the thing, it’s no longer confined to this place; there are academies to learn this even in the United States! But if you’re on a trip to Tamil Nadu, don’t just be smitten by the temples of Madurai, or the calmness of Pondi, make sure to check out one of the locals tap their feet to this 2000 year old rhythm.

Image Credits: Hindu 

2) This one has features of Persian dance and was bought to fame because they were performed in the courts of the Mughals. Guesses? If you said Kathak, you were right. To find its best and rawest form, you could visit Lucknow, Varnasi or Jaipur. The rest are adapted from this basic form. Speaking of Jaipur, the ethnic groups there are known to dance to the Ghoomar- the traditional Rajasthani Dance. Whether you remember the steps or not, you’ll definitely remember the lovely twirls of these Rajasthani women in their lovely ghagaras!

Kathak performers
Kathak performers

Image Credits: Pintrest 

3) If you’re down by the Brahmaputra, visiting the North Eastern States, you’ll definitely have to drop by to Manipur after your visit to the Kanchenjuga or Kazhiranga. The folk dance- Manipuri, which is an absolute splendour to watch. Though the skirts the women wear might resemble that from the Victorian era, this dance form aims to tell stories of Radha and Krishna.

Manipuri Dance Performance
Manipuri Dance Performance

Image Credits: Wikipedia 

4) If you’ve lived in India long enough, you’d know where to go if you want to do the Bhangra! Not that you can’t play some music and start dancing in your room. But, if you’re up for packing your bags to travel to Punjab to get an authentic experience of this, then why not? Known to be one of the most agile dance forms, it’s, none the less, energetic and full of life, and colour, and, represents the true Punjabi Culture.


Image Credits: Bostonbhangra 

5) Last, but not the least, Kathakali. You’ve all seen this form of dance, if not the performance, at least the costume. A religious dance that depicts the Ramayana, it originated in God’s own country- Kerela. It’s characterised by painted faces and heavy – really Heavy – costumes. If you’re visiting the back waters, or the serene landscapes of Waynad, just don’t miss out on this dance.

Kathakali dancer
Kathakali dancer

Image Credits: KeralaTourism

6) The list doesn’t end here, if you’re a traveller, then go about exploring the states and be sure to check out all these beautiful movements. Be it Odishi or Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi or Bihu. Explore dancing! Dance, to explore!

Featured Image: Tumblr



I walk, and I discover, myself and places. I draw, and I write. And that's how I travel.

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