The Art Of Dance
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The dancing history of India is about 5000 years ago and was the oldest form of art in India. It can be said without hesitation that man expressed his primeval urge for communications through movements. Classical Indian dances are among the most graceful and beautiful in the world. They all make use of a complicated, visual language, consisting of hand gestures, body movements, and postures. Movements of the eyes and hands, arms and legs, chest, waist, hip, knee, and foot, either alone or in combination with each other, all make up this complicated language.

Indian dance uses a set of emotions or feelings known as rasas. The job of the artist is to take in emotions, such as amazement, anger, hatred, humour, or love, and communicate them to the audience. The creation of a piece of art, including dance or musical composition, comes out of a deep sense of feeling at one with the universe. This deep sense of inner harmony combined with discipline of the mind and body makes dance similar to yoga.

When we come back to the dance practiced today, two elements emerge very clearly - one that is powerful, majestic and vigorous, very masculine and therefore known as tandava. The other element which is graceful, sensuous and tender is called lasya and is distinctly feminine in movements.

Again dance is divided into nritta and nritya. Nritta refers to dance as delighting in patterns in space, creating an illusion of weightlessness - timeless, limitless, pools of energy flowing out in twisting, coiling and unwinding designs. Nritya refers to the feeling that evokes subjective reactions known as Abhinaya. Classical styles. There are six major styles of classical dance in India:

  1. Bharata Natyam,
  2. Kathak,
  3. Kathakali,
  4. Manipuri,
  5. Orissi, and
  6. Kuchipudi.
Each of these styles developed in a specific region of India. They differ in their languages of gesture. But they are all founded on the principles of rasa and they all draw upon stories and poems that tell about the lives of the Hindu gods. These include gods such as Shiva, (the god of the dance), Krishna, and many more.

There are also a number of other dance forms which though not being highly popular, are still considered inferior to none in grace and style. These include the Koodiyattam, Krishnanattam, Mohiniyattam, Ottan Thullal and Yaksha Gana.

All dances may be used in combination with mime. Some dances are set to music. Others are accompanied by spoken poetry. The musical accompaniment may consist of a vocalist or singer, a drummer, and a person playing the cymbals. In most cases, there is also a person playing a stringed instrument. The dancer uses movement to interpret the sense of the poetry sung by the singer and communicates the feelings evoked by the music. Dancers are free to make up their own movements.

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