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An Introduction to Classical Indian Dances

3 min read
An Introduction to Classical Indian Dances

Dancing may seem like your average hobby, but it takes a passionate, informed dancer to realise that this activity is actually deeply rooted in the culture of a country and that through physical moves, you understand the cultural values and spirituality that that country possesses. If there is a country whose national folk dance is synonymous with spirituality, that would definitely be India. Most people associate it with Bollywood dances, which are more like a simplified, pop culture version of the real, complex dancing culture in India. The reality is that Indian dances are much more complex than what we see on TV. Unlike other countries, which have one or two variations of dancing, India has no less than eight folk dances. This is due to the fact that there are numerous subcultures, each one with its own language and traditions. As an integrated part of cultural life, dancing is strongly connected with the place it originated from. Therefore, each dance move is more can be interpreted in a certain way, being charged with various meanings. Of course, a beginner dancer might want to know less about philosophy and more about the actual dancing technique, as well as where to take Indian dance classes.

Indian dances can be seen as a form of theatre, because the dancers use many hand gestures and, throughout the dance routine, they actually tell a story. No matter where they originate from, the dances are almost always based on Hindu mythology, re-enacting stories with gods and goddesses. If you want to go to an Indian dance school, first you will have to choose the type of dance you want to learn: classical or modern. If you want to understand Indian culture and take up classical dancing lessons, then again you’ll have to make a choice between the eight types. No matter what you choose, you will definitely have a lot of fun, because there is so much more than dance to these lessons. For example, the classical Kathakali dance requires the dancer to wear a vibrant costume, as well as heavy make-up, and play mythology roles accompanied by the sound of drums. In another kind of classic dance, Oddisi, the body had to be bent in three points and facial expressions are extremely important. Your mind has to be very present in the dance, you have to detach yourself from your problems and, to a certain extent, it can even be said that Indian dance is a profoundly spiritual experience.

Classical Indian dance is a beautiful art, but those are looking for something that is more up to date or that can be performed outsides stages and festivals, should take up modern Indian dances, which are a combination between classic moves and modern elements, such as ballet and Bollywood movies. Learning Indian dances can be a bit difficult at first, because they are different from the dances that we are all accustomed to. However, if you go to a professional school where the teachers are native and they know how to explain the origins and meanings of dance moves, then you will definitely learn faster.

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