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Dances of India

In: English and Literature

Submitted By lclements04
Words 1956
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Lauren Clements
Jagannathan
RELS 2396
02 April 2014
Dance of India Dance and music in India can be found in history for thousands of years. Music is an emotional trigger and is an essential aspect of people’s lifestyles in India. Music and dance are there own dialect, articulating delicate feelings and distinguished opinions. While inherently developing with the vibrant energies of the past and imaginative inspiration of leaders, these rituals have preserved the truthfulness of their culture. Their commitment was to develop mankind through artistic occurrences and indulgence. Spectators across the globe enjoy the lush tone of Indian music and the poise of Indian dance. A very popular dance in India is Bharatanatyam. Bharatanatyam has numerous aspects to the dance. The dance contains, but is not limited to, body placement, facial placement, hand movements, footwork, outfits, tune, and matters of enactments. Because Bharatanatyam is so established, all of these pieces of the skill have been collected, and are acknowledged in prehistoric writings as well as current records. “Our description of Bharatanatyam is intended for a spectator, and one who is relatively unfamiliar with the dance, as opposed to a dance student, professional, or scholar” (Indian Mirror). “There are two kinds of movements in Bharatanatyam – abstract and expressive. The abstract movements are done to show rhythm, to provide decoration, and to create beauty. There is no purpose but movement for its own sake. Expressive movements convey meaning and show emotion, through a vocabulary of hand gestures, postures, and facial expressions” (Indian Mirror). These styles are there to depict an idea or sensation, and to convey a familiarity of it to the spectators. The dance steps of Bharatanatyam are very rare and are one of a kind. The dance is commonly labeled as symmetrical because of the essential positions and flow of the steps that make up the dance. “Bharatanatyam is dynamic and energetic; it is also precise and balanced. The basic postures center the weight of the dancer, and there is little use of the hips or off-balance positions” (Indian Mirror). Bharatanatyam has an assortment of distinguishing actions. Alongside the musical stomping footwork, “there are jumps, pirouettes, and positions where the knees contact the floor. Many are executed in the stance with knees bent and turned outward” (Indian Mirror). Executed by an experienced performer, these steps come together elegantly. An extraordinary piece of Bharatanatyam is the expression of the eyes, which add to the overall feel of the dance beautifully. This dance requires the entire body to execute, making it breathtaking to watch. Kathakali is among the most aged theater practices on the planet. “It originated in the area of southwestern India now known as the state of Kerala. Kathakali is a group presentation, in which dancers take various roles in performances traditionally based on themes from Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata” (Chandrakantha). The most interesting feature of Kathakali is the intricate make-up requirements. Performers are classified by their roles. This decides the colors used in the make-up. “The faces of noble male characters, such as virtuous kings, the divine hero Rama, etc., are predominantly green. Characters of high birth who have an evil streak, such as the demon king Ravana, are allotted a similar green make-up, slashed with red marks on the cheeks. Extremely angry or excessively evil characters wear predominantly red make-up and a flowing red beard. Forest dwellers such as hunters are represented with a predominantly black make-up base. Women and ascetics have lustrous, yellowish faces” (Chandrakantha).
The performance of Kathakali includes extremely established movements, with which the performer can express entire tales. The positions and flow of the body are extremely laborious. In order to prepare for the amount of skill needed for this dance, the dancers are required to undergo a large amount of training.
The performers wear oversized head pieces, and the outlines of their faces are molded to appear more animated. The breathtaking clothes and make-up create an illusion that the performers are not human, giving the audience an experience that is out of this world.
“The orchestra of a Kathakali performance includes two drums known as the chenda and the maddalam, along with cymbals and another percussion instrument, the ela taalam. Normally, two singers provide the vocal accompaniment. The style of singing particular to Kathakali is called Sopaanam. The orchestra of a Kathakali troupe is unique and provides not only the background to the dancing, but also serves as a highly expressive special effects team” (Chandrakantha). Kathak is one of the six main traditional dances of India and one of the most energetic arts around the globe. The term Kathak comes “from katha, meaning "the art of storytelling." It is also synonymous with the community of artists known as Kathakas whose hereditary profession it was to narrate history while entertaining. With dance, music and mime these storytellers of ancient India would bring to life the great scriptures and epic so ancient times, especially the great Indian epics - the Mahabharata and the Ramayana - and the Puranas of Sanskrit literature” (Onam Festival).
Kuchipudi is a traditional Indian dance from Andhra Pradesh, India. Kuchipudi received it’s name from the “village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district that borders the Bay of Bengal and also the surname of the resident Brahmins practicing this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name” (Indian Mirror).
The music in Kuchipudi is expressed with captivating languages, rapid glances and short-lived sensations arousing the rasa. In expressional pieces a performer occasionally decides to play “the role of Satyabhama, the proud and self-assured queen of Lord Krishna, from the dance-drama Bhama Kalapam. She goes through various stages of love. When in separation from Lord Krishna, she recalls the happy days of union and pines for him. At last they are reunited when she sends him a letter” (Indian Mirror).
Similar to other forms of Indian dance, the Odissi dance has roots that date back thousands of years. Performers are “portrayed in bas-relief in the hills of Udaygiri (near Bhubaneshwar) dating back to the 1st century BC. The Natya Shastra speaks of the dance from this region and refers to it as Odra-Magadhi” (Odissi.com).
Throughout the history of Odissi, there have been three schools for Odissi dance developed: Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua. “The Mahari tradition is the devadasi tradition; this is the use of women who are attached to deities in the temple. The Nartaki tradition is the school of Odissi dance which developed in the royal courts. Gotipua is a style characteristed by the use of young boys dressed up in female clothing to perform female roles” (Odissi.com).
One of the most important forms of Odissi is Tribhangi. The idea of Tribhang “divides the body into three parts, head, bust, and torso. Any posture which deals with these three elements is called tribhangi. This concept has created the very characteristic poses which are more contorted than found in other classical Indian dance” (Odissi.com).
The mudras are another very crucial aspect to Odissi. The word mudra is defined as a "stamp and is a hand position which signifies things. The use of mudras help tell a story in a manner similar to the hula of Hawaii. The themes of Odissi are almost exclusively religious in nature. They most commonly revolve around Krishna” (Odissi.com). Though the devotion of Krishna is located through India, there are native ideas, which are accentuated.
The melodic supplement of Odissi dance is fundamentally similar to the melody of Odissa as a whole. There are numerous interpretations on how the tune of the Odissi communicates to the musical scene of India. It is typically measured just an alternative type of “Hindustani sangeet, however there are some who feel that Odissi should be considered a separate classical system” (Odissi.com).
Bollywood is a very common dance in India and is probably the most recognized from others. The expression “Bollywood” was generated by uniting two terms, Bombay and Hollywood. Bollywood was originated in Mumbai (Bombay), and is “India’s largest film industry in terms of the number of films produced, and also the number of tickets sold each year. In fact, Bollywood has become so internationally ubiquitous that it now has it’s own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary” (About Geography).
It is not uncommon to see Western modern and pure traditional dance pieces together in a Bollywood movie. The international demand of Bollywood growing steadily for a few decades. “Originally it was found only in places that had a significant consumption of Indian films. But today it is rising in popularity in the US, Canada and Europe. With the success of films such as the Oscar winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, Bollywood films and dance have taken the world by storm & has now come into the global spotlight. Much of this is due to the ever-expanding Indian diaspora, but a significant proportion also comes from non-Indians who are fascinated by the exotic, larger than life qualities inherent in it” (About Geography). Whether it is their extravagant sets, production price, or excessive get-ups, very well known and popular actors have chosen to use Bollywood in their music and productions.
The type of dancing in former Bollywood movies was founded on “Indian Classical Dance or Folk Dances from various parts of India. These dances included the classical art forms of Kathak and Bharata Natyam. In the late 50's & 60's group dances began to evolve in Bollywood films & choreographers started managing larger groups of dancers, with influences from folk dances. Then came the era of color films, and by then Indian Cinema was blessed with great dancers like Geetanjali, Sandhya, Helen & Mahipal who with their outstanding energy and performance mesmerized the audiences and took dance to the next level” (About Geography). There was no alteration in the type of movement, as directors still shadowed the native original style of the dance. Bollywood’s style began to show a noticeable change in the 1970’s. The Cabaret type of movement developed into a further normal and was applied in many cinemas.
After playing with “Classical, Semi Classical, Folk, Cabaret & Disco styles of dance, came an era which introduced Bollywood Free Style of dancing” which was well symbolized by performers like Govinda who industrialized their own mark of dance.
“Since the 1980's and the inception of MTV, Bollywood dancing has been heavily influenced by Western dance styles, and incorporates elements from the West. In many cases, the musical numbers are released as separate music videos, and the soundtracks are released prior to the film, in order to further advertise the upcoming feature films” (About Geography). In current Bollywood movies, the musical pieces are frequently founded on variations of Hip-Hop and similar genres.
Dance in India is an always-changing topic. Dance holds such an important role for the culture of India and it’s people. Without dance, there would not be as many artistic ways for the people of India to express themselves uniquely and colorfully.

Works Cited
"BHARATANATYAM." Bharatanatyam. Indian Mirror, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
"KATHAK - A CLASSICAL DANCE OF NORTHERN INDIA." Kathak. Chandrakantha, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
"Kathakali." , Dance, Music, Dance Costumes, Songs Dance in India. Onam Festival, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
"Welcome to Odissi.com a Portal of All India Online, Connecting Oriyas Worldwide, Connecting Indians Worldwide, All India Online." Welcome to Odissi.com a Portal of All India Online, Connecting Oriyas Worldwide, Connecting Indians Worldwide, All India Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
"Your Introduction to the Wonderful World of Bollywood." About.com Geography. About Geography, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

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