An essential guide to dance fanatics: Types of Classical dance in India

share on:

India is a diverse land with different languages, cultural patterns, eating habits, religious belief, custom and traditions including climatic conditions throughout the year. Similarly, there are different types of classical dance in India, it makes our country unique.

Our country has year old tradition in arts; they commonly use a sign language in classical dance. Classical Dance is the root of all dance form in India. It uses a common language of expression that is performed in holy places to entertain Indian God and Goddesses.

A classical dancer is a person with distinct character. He/ She reflects culture and tradition with a disciplined life, they are very much drawn towards worship, yoga, and meditation that play a crucial role to present India despite the background and forms.

Bharat Natyam- Tamil Nadu

It is the most famous dance form from South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Artists are mainly women who use a combination of four elements: music, expression, dance, and beats. The costume includes vibrant color sarees made up of Silk.

It originated in the 1000 BC and later handed over by the old gurus and teachers. Later it went on to become the most popular dance form both in India and abroad.

Kuchipudi- Andhra Pradesh

Kuchipudi originated in the 17th century in the south-east state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a traditional dance that uses a combination of mime, and speech. Both male and female artists use sign languages with rhythmic gestures. They accompany vocalists and Musicians who use instruments such as violin, flute, and tambura.

Manipuri- near Myanmar borders

It is one of the famous dance forms in India, It is named after the area of its origin, i.e, Manipur. It is a love based dance drama also known as Raslila. It is a team performance with barrel-shaped, decorated skirt costume. The dance form uses hand movements and upper body gestures to give religious and spiritual experience.


Originated in the 15th century, It is a must watch traditional Indian dance form of Assam. It uses a unique combination of expressions, footwork, body movements including specific hand gestures. The theme of the art relates to Vishnu avatars- Ram and Sita along with Krishna and Radha. It is rich in lyrics, melodies, and rhythm.

Kathak- Uttar Pradesh

The word ‘Kathak’ is a Sanskrit word which means storytelling in English. The story revolves around Goddess, Radha and the childhood span of Lord, Krishna. Pakhawaj instrument is played in the background; dancers wear Ghungroo to perform the arts. Practiced in the Mughal era, declined during the British rule and revived after Independence.

Odissi- Odisha

Female temple servants perform this dance form. It originated in Hindu Temples of eastern India state of Odisha. Odissi uses various art forms from temple sculptures with distinct Tribanghi postures of head, chest, and pelvis. The artists wear symbolic costumes that play a mythical story with a spiritual message and devotional poems.

Mohiniattam- Kerela

The word Mohini means beautiful women and attam means dance. As the name suggests, it is a seductress avatar of Vishnu. In Hindu mythology, a woman used her charm to help good prevail over evil. The dance form based on emotions involves divine feminine beauty and grace.

The songs included are a mix of Malayali and Sanskrit language. Women artists use off-white saree with gold borders; flute, mridanga, and veena are used as instruments.

Kathakali- Kerela

The word ‘Kathakali’ means ‘story play’ and as the name suggests epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata is performed in this dance form. The popular dance form originated in ‘God’s own country’ Kerela during the 17th century.

Well-trained male artists perform the dance that uses intense makeup, masks with heavy costumes. It represents specific colors like black for evil, green colors for divinity, hero, and king. Kathakali uses playback music.

share on: