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Introduction to Dance

l Introduction to dance

- Definition of dance
- Different kinds of dances
l Introduction to classical dances

- Names of the classical dances and place of

- Basic movements and relation to beat
- How to begin dance and the concept of respect
for the Guru, mother earth and the audience

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Definition of dance
Dance is a form of art that uses the body to feel, express and perform through
movements to the rhythm of music and beat. The movements vary in tempo
and mood set by different melodies. There are many forms of dance such as
classical, folk, western or modern. The classical dance forms have a specific
character and follow a system of set rules for hands gestures and body
There are many kinds of dance, each with some form of religious
background which follows a system of set rules for hands gestures and body
postures. Though different, they all convey meaning using every part of the
body. Eyes, hands, legs, feet, and face come together in the dance through the
use of movement, gesture and body language to portray a character,
situation and music to set mood and tell a story or an abstract concept to the
audience. It is a form of non verbal communication where the language the
dancer speaks is through his/her gestural vocabulary and facial expression.
Definition of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural,
aesthetic, artistic and moral constraints and range from functional
movement (such as folk dance) to virtuoso techniques such as ballet. Dance
can be participatory, social or performed for an audience. Dance can embody
or express ideas, emotions or tell a story.

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Activity - 1
Different kinds of dances
Classical dance in India is thousands of years old. In contemporary times the classification of the
classical Indian dances has been created. The different names of the dances are:
















UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Folk dances Is a form of dance developed by a group of people that reflects the traditional life of
the people of a certain region. Folk dance originated in 18th century. These dances don't have
stringent rules and are sometimes formed spontaneously among groups of people.
The steps of folk dances are passed through generations and are usually associated with social
Some names of folk dances from different regions
a. Assam - Bihu
b. Gujarat - Garbha, Dandia, Raas
c. Karnataka - Yakshagana
d. Maharastra - Lavani
e. Manipur - Thang Ta, Dolcholam

Orissa - Gotipua, Chau

g. Punjab - Bhangra, Giddha, Jhumar

h. Rajasthan - Ghumar, Bhavai

Tamil Nadu - Kummi, Kolattam, Puliyattam, Karagam, Therukoothu

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Activity - 2
Understand the difference between classical dance styles and folk dances. List put
three points that describe what is a classical dance?
Look at Youtube to see the different folk dances in the region you live in
Learn one folk dance from the teachers in the class
Practice the basic steps the teacher teaches you.

The term contemporary dance is sometimes used to describe dance that is not in any of the
traditional classical, jazz or ballet forms but is a natural creation of movement. The characteristic of
contemporary dance is often a series of movements that have an awareness beat and rhythm but is
beyond limits of any specific form. Contemporary dance is a very interpretive style of dance that
focuses on unconventional movements. It was considered unconventional because it shifted away
from classical ballet and lyrical dance forms. Contemporary dancers were considered
revolutionary, pulling from non-western styles such as African or Asian styles of dancing. Unlike
classical ballet, contemporary dance does not have fixed movements; instead it is a search for new
forms and dynamics. It focuses on oppositional movement, alignment, raw emotion, and
systematic breathing. At times both modern dance and contemporary dance may be reminiscent of
physical exercise, formations and other choreographic imagination.

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Activity - 3
What is the kind of music used in contemporary dances?
Watch some programmes on Youtube to understand how participants create dances.
Try to capture the beat of different music and try to move to the beat and rhythm
In each class play music, identify the beat and move to the rhythm of the music.

Modern is a term used to describe contemporary dance. Modern dance centre's on a dancer's own
interpretation instead of structured steps, as in traditional ballet dancing. A modern dancer does
not necessarily follow the classical ballet stance of an upright, erect body, often opting instead for
deliberate falls to the floor. Modern dancers express their innermost emotions through dance, often
becoming closer to their inner-selves. Before attempting to choreograph a routine, the modern
dancer decides which emotions to try to convey to the audience.

Popular dance is expression of people's joy to film music. In current times Bollywood music has
received a worldwide acclaim and use in small festivities and family rituals. Young children and
family members play music and move to the beat of film songs. The ease of owning musical players
helps to bring music to the homes and add to expressing through the body. Usually a person's
dancing to popular music and creating popular dance does not emerge from any training but is
natural response to the beat and rhythm of the film songs.

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Activity - 4
Follow the movements the teacher tells you. Make sure that you learn the basic
positions in a correct manner. In classical dances there is a lot of importance in
moving the body to the correct positions such as where the body should bend, how
much distance between the two feet. Watch the teacher carefully and look at yourself
in the mirror to know if you are getting it just like the teacher.
a) Learn the simple movements of the dance by observing the teacher carefully.
Preferably practice in front of a mirror so that you can coordinate the body
b) Practice to different beats.


The Indian classical Dance has a story of its own about its evolution. Lord Indra was worried about
the people who were drifting away from the right path. He consulted Lord Brahma to overcome his
worries. Lord Brahma said that the four Vedas- Rigveda,Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvavedawere created for the sake of man's wisdom. Lord Indra was not at all satisfied and insisted upon
having a fifth Veda, which was pleasing to the eye and ear as well as constructive and entertaining.
Lord Brahma made out a fifth veda- the Natyasatra out of the four vedas in which he used speech
from the Rigveda, music from the Samaveda, expression from the Yajurveda and Rasa potrayal
from the Atharvaveda. He taught Natyasastra to Sage Bharata.
The Natyasastra is the science of music, dance and drama. The presiding deity of Dance is NatarajaShiva. The main classical dance forms are Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri, Kathakali
and Kathak. Through facial expressions nine emotional moods or Natya -Rasa can be depicted.
They are Raudra( Anger), Bhayanaka(fearful), Shringara(erotic mood), Veera(valour),
Hasya(humour), Karuna(pathos), Adbhuta(wonder), Beebhatsa(disgust) and Shanta(peace)
The exact origin of Indian dance is still uncertain. To analyze and summarize widely available data
completely and to give a common opinion is not possible for researchers. It is found in all areas of
Poetry, literature, paintings, sculptures and old relics. In India there has been a constant evolution
of the performing arts. There has been an increasing influence of western culture as well as film
music in increasing people's participation in dance, however, the culture of the classical dances has
managed to sustain its purity with some portions of slight innovations and improvisations. In
many parts of India there are distinct dance forms that have been nurtured by the Kings, the
temples and in modern times by the culture departments of the state. Following are the
descriptions of the dances and brief history of their growth, development and special features that
comprise the skill of the art.

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Classical dance forms: origin and features
Bharatanatyam is generally listed as the oldest form of classical Indian dance that has originated in
the temples of Tamil Nadu in South India, where it was intended to honour and worship God. Even
today, there is a great deal of the original religious influence, as every performance begins with a
danced prayer to God and an "Alarippu", in which the dancer presents and dedicates the body to
God. The name comes from "bha", meaning emotion (Bhava), "ra", meaning melody (Raga), and
"ta" meaning tal (Tala), or rhythm.
A Bharatanatyam dance recital can be a solo performance and can be performed in a group as well,
but the dancer is accompanied by instrumentation (like percussion, string and wind instruments)
and a vocalist who sings and a nattuvanar who recites the words and the beats of the drums. It is a
mixture of pure dance and dance to tell a story. During the dance, the performer keeps the upper
body upright while the legs are held in a bent-knee, turned out position. It is this posture of the
dance that gives it an angular stance that moves to the neat and lyrics mesmerising the viewers. A
Bharatanatyam recital has a definite order of pieces, each with a purpose and time signature. Many
of the Bharatnatyam postures have influenced the ancient sculptures in the Hindu temples.
Performed in the earlier times by devadasis by girls who had devoted themselves in the service of
God, the dance in recent times has moved out of the temples and is learnt as an art by girls as well as
some boys.

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Kathakali is a type of dance-drama that comes from Kerela, located in South India. It is thought to
have originated in the 17th century and has its roots in Indian mythology. It is called a "dancedrama" because the dance is not always the main focus. Instead, the performer tells a well known
story from Hindu epics or scriptures using facial expression and specific hand gestures. Kathakali
is a highly stylised form of dance.
The costumes for Kathakali are quite elaborate: for instance, dancers wear huge, rounded skirts.
Their headgear may be made out of carved wood and the heavy makeup often takes hours to apply.
Much of the story that accompanies the dance is told by singers accompanied by precussion
instruments. It is said that there are 101 stories that are performed by Kathakali dancers, many of
which are stories from the Mahabharat or the Ramayana. The performances take place in the
evening and often the elaborate makeup for the next performance is done while the dancer is

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Like the other Indian dances, Odissi originated in temples, as a way to honour God. It may have
originated in the 2nd century B.C in Orissa. Odissi dancing also maintains a tie between the dance
and the sculptures on the ancient temples and caves of India. Defined poses are often held before a
smooth and flowing transition to the next section of the dance. Many dances and dance music
follow the popular story of Radha and Krishna (Geeta Govinda), or other ancient stories of love.
Distinguishing positions of Odissi dance include the balanced standing position; the "tribhanga", in
which the head and hip are thrust to one side while the upper body angles in the other direction;
and the "chauka", where the toes and legs are pointed to the sides and the feet are slightly apart with
knees bent. The dancer wears silver jewelry and a sari that has been stitched to hold in position.

Odissi dancer in a typical bhangi


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Kathak dancing comes from northern India. It is thought to have originated with traveling
storytellers called Kathakaars. They told mythological stories using hand gestures, instruments,
and vocal music. Kathak dancing today is accompanied by percussion instruments that set
complex rhythms that the dancer must match. Both men and women perform Kathak.
Kathak is known for its fast footwork, complex rhythms, and the many spins executed by the
dancer. The turns often end in defined poses. The dancer wears strings of bells on the feet, like
Bharatanatyam, and must use different parts of the foot to create different sounds. This means that
any single step taken by a Kathak dancer is really a set combination of up to 12 steps that must
follow strict rhythm. The choice of step to create sound is coordinated with the instrumentalist.
Unlike other forms of Indian dance, the emphasis in Kathak is clearly on footwork. Kathak has
many varying styles such as the Jaipur ghrana or the Lucknow ghrana. The dancer's costume varies
according to the gharana the student hails from. Kathak dance also comprises of pure dance as
well as bhava nritya. This dance was patronised a lot by the Mughal Kings.

Kathak dancer in a chakkar


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

The dance form Kuchipudi developed in what is now known as the state of Andhra Pradesh in
southern India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the village Kuchelapuram, where it was nurtured
by great scholars and artists who built up the repertoire and refined the dance technique. The
technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements.
Stylized mime, using hand gestures and subtle facial expression, is combined with more realistic
acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers. In this blend of performance
techniques, Kuchipudi is unique among the Indian classical dance styles.
Kuchipudi today is performed either as a solo or a group presentation, but historically it was
performed as a dance drama, with several dancers taking different roles. The themes are mostly
derived from the scriptures and mythology, and the portrayal of certain characters is a central motif
of this dance form. One example is Satyabhama, the colourful second consort of Lord Krishna.
Another unique feature of Kuchipudi is the Tarangam, in which the performer dances on the edges
of a brass plate, executing complicated rhythmic patterns with dexterity, while sometimes also
balancing a pot of water on the head. Kuchipudi is accompanied by Carnatic music. A typical
orchestra for a Kuchipudi recital includes the mridangam, flute and violin. A vocalist sings the
lyrics, and the nattuvanar conducts the orchestra and recites the rhythmic patterns.


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

The dance form of Mohiniattam was nurtured in the region of Kerala in southwestern India. The
name Mohiniattam literally means 'Dance of the Enchantress,' and it does have a mesmerizing
quality. The white and gold costume, arresting hairstyle and the highly graceful movements in
medium tempo, contribute to this aesthetic effect.
Mohiniattam is characterized by swaying movements of the upper body with legs placed in a
stance similar to the plie position. The eyes play an important role in accenting the direction of the
movement. Mention of Mohiniattam is found in some eighteenth century texts, but the practical
aspect of the style was revived in the reign of Maharaja Swati Tirunal, a 19th century ruler who was
a great patron of the arts. Under Swati Tirunal, Mohiniattam crystallized as a solo dance tradition
with musical compositions set to the Carnatic style of music and a distinct repertoire. Later, in the
twentieth century, the great poet Vallathol established the Kerala Kalamandalam to promote the
arts of Mohiniattam and Kathakali. Here, further research was done and Mohiniattam was codified
and revived. Over the past few decades, the repertoire of Mohiniattam has been developed and
expanded by dedicated performers who have ensured that this beautiful dance style retains a
distinct identity among the classical dance styles of India. Apart from mythology, Mohiniattam
contains a range of themes from nature.


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Manipuri is one of the most beautiful dance styles of India. Nurtured in the mountainous region of
the northeast, it takes its name from the name of the area, Manipur, which is now a state. Manipur
literally means a jewel of a land, and the state is set like a gem in the verdant hills. The legend goes
that the gods drained a lake in the beautiful countryside in order to find a place to dance. No
wonder then, that dance is an inherent part of the rituals of daily life, such as weddings and homage
to ancestors.
The Lai Haroba, a ritualistic dance depicting the Creation, is considered the precursor of Manipuri
as seen today. The Lai Haroba is still an important living tradition, while Manipuri has expanded
and gained popularity as a performing art in group and solo presentations.
Among the important constituents of the Manipuri repertoire are the Sankirtana and the Raas
Leela, based on the devotional theme of Krishna and Radha. The Raas Leela depicts the cosmic
dance of Krishna and the cowherd maidens. The beautiful embroidered skirts of the dancers, long
and flared from the waist, and the translucent veils, along with Krishna's costume with the tall
peacock feather crown, add to the radiant appearance of this dance, as the performers sway and
twirl to an ascending tempo. A vibrant feature of Manipuri is also the Pung Cholam or Drum dance,
in which dancers play on the drum known as Pung while dancing with thrilling leaps and turns to a
fast rhythm.


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Sattriya the core of Sattriya Nritya has usually been mythological stories. This was an artistic way of
presenting mythological teachings to the people in an accessible, immediate, and enjoyable
manner. Traditionally, Sattriya was performed only by bhokots (male monks) in monasteries as a
part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals. Today, in addition to this practice, Sattriya is
also performed on stage by men and women who are not members of the sattras, on themes not
merely mythological.


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Activity - 5
Listen to different kinds of music and understand how you move when the music is
fast or when the music is slow. Practice the exercises and steps you are learning in the
Watch films to understand how dances are different and what the features that could
be same.
Complete the worksheet 1

Basic Movements and Relation to the Beat

As the students acquire basic knowledge about dance and know the various forms of dance, it
would be very important to do practical exercises and acquire a sense of rhythm by practicing
movements to music. Students must practice regularly and develop a keen sense of identifying the
beats and follow the fast, medium and slow rhythms. Before beginning any dance students must
learn basic movements and understand the cycle of beats and how the tempo increases from single,
double, triple to four times the first speed.
Watching films and noticing how dancers keep basic body postures while they dance helps in
creating the images that define particular dance styles. Watching films is very important for the
student who is beginning to understand the various facets of any dance form. The transition to
stylized movements is easy if the body internalizes the idea of rhythm and beat. All dance styles
begin with basic steps set to specific body positions.
The classical dance form must be learnt with a mind of sustaining the posture, beat and then
repeated practice of the steps. Once the dance steps are learnt learning of the items becomes very
easy. Beginning of dance is a slow process but once the steps are learnt with sincerity it is easy for
learning the more complex sequences such as once you learn the steps of arasa in Odissi the items
are fun to learn as the pure dance parts in items often include the arasa. Students must constantly
practice and work on their movement and postures and take guidance from the teacher constantly.

Beginning of dance: Concept of the guru, mother earth and the audience
Teaching and learning of dance is a based on the notion of Guru Shishya parampara in the classical
dances as each dance has its unique style which has to be learnt with exactness. In learning of the
classical dance the whole basis of the relation between the teacher and the student is that of respect
and followership as precision cannot happen if there is no obedience. The following of the exact
body position, the pattern of steps, and the sequence of learning has to be maintained to sustain the
tradition of the dance form. Without a total obedience the learning of the classical art would be
difficult. It is only after learning the basic rules of dance that a dancer can experiment. If the value of
the Guru is ingrain among the students and the respect follows diligently pursuing with practice it
will be help in mastering the dance form.

UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Make sure to wear comfortable clothes to dance class as it allows freedom in movement. Tying a
chunni around the waist helps in noting body and movement changes carefully.

Activity - 6
Bhumi pranam consists of paying respect to god, guru, mother earth and the
audience. So learn the steps of Bhumi Pranam properly and follow the instructions of
the teacher carefully. Bhumi Pranam must be performed every time before you start
the dance.

Activity - 7
Practice the basic dance steps. Follow the instructions of beat. The changing speeds
help in understanding the movements. If the fast speed makes you do the steps
incorrectly, first do the steps in single beat as it helps for the body to internalize the

Activity - 8
Create a scrapbook of pictures of dancers from different regions and label them with
the names of the classical dance forms.


UNIT-I : Introduction to Dance

Place the following dances in the map according to the place of their origin and also name the state:




Movements and Body Postures


l Movements and body postures

- Basic movements and relation to beats

- Concept of taal and the cycle of beats


UNIT-II : Movements and Body Postures

Different parts of Dance
Dance and especially classical dances use hand gestures and footsteps coordinated with the
movement of the body. The movements have different pace or beat such as slow, medium and fast.
There are terms for each of the elements of dance. Hand gestures are called hasta mudras, the foot
work is known as pada krama and the varying rhythms or speeds are known as laya which can be in
different cycles of beat known as tala.

The different parts of dance for a beginner are:


Namaskar or Bhumi Pranam :

As all the classical dances are rooted in religious offering of the dancer, the concept of prayer
is very significant. Not only do performances have opening item as a dedication to God, each
day's practice or learning begins with namaskar. As stated in the first unit one of the initial
orientation to the dancer is teaching of namaskar and the significance of seeking blessings of
God, the Guru and the audience with homage to Mother Earth. The combination of the three
salutations is referred as bhumi pranam. Students need to ensure that they develop the habit of
performing the act of namaskar in each class. There should be an understanding of why
there are three parts to the namaskar. In a way the dancer takes permission and support of the
Mother earth to use the surface to learn with blessings from the Guru and God. In a
performance the dancer in addition welcomes the audience.


Basic warm up exercises :

Developing a regime of physical exercises helps to make the body flexible and ready for
complex movements. In most schools of dance the first couple of sessions are spent in
allowing the body to get accustomed to the rigour of precision of beat as well as preciseness of
body actions. Students should get familiarised with leg movements and also get the body to
move in different body postures. Exercises help students of dance to build stamina besides
getting the idea of beat and body coordination. So students must work on developing the
flexibility and strength in their muscles.

Bhumi pranam

Basic warm up exercises


UNIT-II : Movements and Body Postures


Basic steps and movements in relation to the beat at slow, medium and fast
tempo :
Learning the basic steps is of prime importance. Unless the students master the initial steps
such as take the aramandi position and do tatte tai thayyam tai (1-2-3--- 1-2-3) the body will
not get the rhythm and sense of movement. Similarly in Kathak it is important to learn ta aa
theai theai tat to feel the footwork. All dancers need to practice the basic steps in all the speeds
slow, medium and fast to be able to internalize the step in the prescribed position of the body
and feet. Student's must wear comfortable clothes so that the teacher can see the formation of
the body posture and help you by correcting your posture and support you in maintaining the


Understanding the concept of taal and the cycle of beats.

The percussion instrument is the backbone of any dance form as it provides the basic rhythm
and beat which motivates the dancer to coordinate and balance the movements of the body.
Tala cyclic rhythms. According to some authors the word Tala is derived from 'ta' (referring
to Shiva- the tandava aspect) and 'la' (referring to pai - lasya). The union of these two or of the
right and left hands produce tala.
In Indian classical dance or music, Tala (tl (Hindi), tla (anglicised from talam; in Sanskrit),
literally a "clap", is a rhythmical pattern that determines the rhythmical structure of a
composition. Each composition is set to a tala, and as a composition is rendered by the main
artist(s), the percussion artist(s) play the pattern repeatedly, marking time as well as
enhancing the appeal of the performance.
The most common instrument for keeping rhythm in Hindustani music is the tabla. In
Carnatic music, the Mridangam is a stock feature in vocal, violin, Veena and flute concerts,
with the Ghatam, the Khanjira and the Morsing also featuring at times. In Nadhaswaram
concerts, the Thavil takes the place of the Mridangam.
While Indian classical music has a complete and complex system for the execution and
transcription of rhythms and beats, a few talas are very common while most others are rare.
The most common Tala in Hindustani classical music is Tintal. This tala has a cycle of 16 beats
divided in 4 bars. Bars 1, 2 and 4 are accented while bar 3 is light. Most talas can be played at
different speeds, but no tala is generally slowed down as much as Ektal, with its 12 beats
sometimes taking more than a minute.
Angas of talam are :

1. Anudruta 1 akshara kala

3. Laghu 4 akshara kalas

2. Druta 2 akshara kalas

A talam is a traditional rhythmic pattern, which does not have a fixed tempo and can be
played at different speeds. Each repeated cycle of a taal is called an avartan. A tala is generally
divided into sections (vibhaags), not all of which may have the same number of beats.


UNIT-II : Movements and Body Postures

Different percussion instruments used in Indian dances


UNIT-II : Movements and Body Postures

Activity - 1
Identify the music beats being played by the teacher. It is important to understand
that different music has different beat.
Listen to different kinds of music, identify and note down the differences in beats


Understanding the elements of dance such as mudra and steps of dance

In Indian classical dance the term "Hasta Mudra" (hasta is Sanskrit for hand) is used. The
Natya Shastra describes 24 mudra's, while the Abhinaya Darpana gives 28 in total. In all the
forms of Indian classical dance the mudras are similar, though the names and uses vary. All
the dances use language of hand gestures or mudra. Students must learn the single hand
mudra such as pataka, tripataka. The dancers use a combination of single hand mudra, or
gestures using a combination of single hand gestures or a gesture with the combination of the
two hands. Each mudra with the angle of the hand, the body movement and the expression
will convey a specific meaning.
Students must ensure that they learn the basic root hand gestures as is a combination of the
hand gestures that helps a dancer to convey meaning through non-verbal symbols. The hand
gestures are in coordination with different dance positions.


UNIT-II : Movements and Body Postures

Activity - 2
Practice the hand gestures. This usually becomes easy when done in a rhythmic
pattern with a simple melody. Test out like a game with other classmates the different
hand gestures and their names.


Body positions in dance :

Each style of dance uses the body in specific positions which gives a specific character to the
classical tradition. For example in Kathak the dancer stands and conducts intricate hand
gestures and footwork patterns in different cycles set to tala. Another feature of kathak is its
twirls or chakkars. While performing bhava, the dancer may bend the knees and do different
chali or the walk. The dancer may even sit and narrate a story through blending of mudras.
In another style of dance the body position may have its own set of imagery. For example in
Odissi the contours of the body are in three parts known as the tribhangi. Many of the dance
sequences use this characteristic body position. The technique of Odissi includes repeated use
of the tribhangi, or thrice deflected posture, in which the body is bent in three places,
approximating the shape of a helix. This posture and the characteristic shifting of the torso
from side to side, make Odissi a difficult style to execute. When mastered, it is the epitome of
fluid grace and has a distinctively lyrical quality that is very appealing. However,
Bharatnatyam does not use the curve posture in imaging the body of the dancer. The basic
body positions are:
1. ARAIMANDI- Half Seated Position.
2. SAMAPADAM - Legs Together
3. MANDI- Full Seated Position

Aramandi in Bharatanatyam

UNIT-II : Movements and Body Postures

Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri or Mohiniattam have their own specifications as well. Practice
of movements in dance-specific postures is a basic skill that any student needs to master. The
pictures show kathakali, kuchipudi and bhratnatyam dance poses.

Activity - 3
Familiarise yourself with the slow, medium and fast paced beats. Maintain your body
positions at instructed by the teacher and change them according to the beats.




Hand Gestures and Body Postures


l Understanding the elements of dance

- Mudra (hand gestures): single hand

- Basic steps of dance forms
- Body positions in dance
l Understand and follow the processes in the

teachinglearning of dance, know what is

Guru-shishya parampara.


UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

Understanding the elements of dance
In Indian classical dance the term "Hasta Mudra" (hasta is Sanskrit for hand) is used. The Natya
Shastra describes 24 mudra's, while the Abhinaya Darpana gives 28 in total. In all the forms of
Indian classical dance the mudras are similar, though the names and uses vary. All the dances use
language of hand gestures or mudra. Teach the students the single hand mudra such as pataka,
tripataka. The dancers use a combination of single hand mudra, or gestures using a combination of
single hand gestures or a gesture with the combination of the two hands. Each mudra with the
angle of the hand, the body movement and the expression will convey a specific meaning.

Single hand or asamyukta mudra

The mudra can be using both the hands as shown in the picture below. Make sure you learn all the
mudra as that will help you later in making your own stories.

Two single hand

mudra join to
create a meaning
Two hand sumyukta mudra
There are 28 (or 32) root mudras in Bharatanatyam, 24 in Kathakali and 20 in Odissi. These root
mudras are combined in different ways, like one hand, two hands, arm movements, body and
facial expressions. In Kathakali, which has the greatest number of combinations, the vocabulary
adds up to 900. Sanyukta mudras are mudras that use both hands, and asanyukta mudras are
mudras that use only one hand words. It is important for students to memorise the mudrain as it will
enable you to learn dance items with ease and also allow you to create their own dance stories.

UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

Activity - 1
Practice the asmyukta mudras every day. Make sure you learn all the mudra and
remember them.

Activity - 2
Draw all the mudras and label them accordingly . Complete worksheet 1 on
asmyukta mudras.


It is repeatedly emphasized that practice of dance steps is basic to the training of learner to be a
dancer. Students must pay attention and learn in increasing complexity the basic steps of any dance
form that is being taught. Brief descriptions provided by the teacher as examples of the beginning
process in the different classical dances must be carefully observed and worked on wile practicing
any form of dance.
Kathak: In Kathak, the students begin with basic footwork known as tatkar. The learner practises
tatkar in different speed. The footwork is followed by simple toda which would require the dancer
to coordinate the hand movements and footwork. In kathak it is important to learn to take chakkar
and keep the beat. This also forms part of the basic training. This practice of simple toda is
rigourous before moving to tukda, paran, chakkar
Odissi: A set of basic steps in Odissi is known as arasa. There are perhaps 10-.15 arasa which train
the dancer in the basic vocabulary of Odissi. Arasa are pieces of pure dance movements set to beat
where practice is given in sustaining the different body postures while doing the arasa. The arasa is
the introduction of the body to coordinate hand movements, body positions while the body moves
to different cycles of beat in varying speed. Other dance forms will have similar introductory nritta
Bharatanatyam: The equivalent is adavu. They are steps in Bharatanatyam. The word adavu is said
to have derived from the Tamil root adu meaning to dance. There are different types of Adavus and
the naming also varies according to the style (Bani). The styles may vary in the execution aspects
example- position of head, the way the hand is held etc. Adavu is a fundamental dance unit used in
nritta where hands, feet, head, eyes and other parts of the body move in a coordinated manner.
Adavus belong to the realm of rhythmic movement conveying no meaning or sentiments.

UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

Activity - 3
Unique point for the student: Follow the teacher and watch yourself in the mirror to
get the correct body position. If possible record basic beats to follow the simple steps
of the dance by yourself even after the class. Practice exercises in different beat and
the steps also. Practice the folk dance that may have learnt.


Classical dance have their distinctive character by the way they create body positions. The
positions can be angular or the movements could be using more upright straight body posture.
Odissi dance distinctly creates a tribhangi body posture by bending at the shoulder and the waist.
This triangular posture is alternated by chalk or the square position. On another dance such as
kathak the movements are largely in a straight body position. The various body positions are:
Kathak : This is one of the most regular pose for a kathak dancer after a dancer finishes a set of

A. Body positions in Odissi :


UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

The chowka or chaulk is a half sitting posture in Odissi in which the equilibrium of weight is
maintained but the distance between the two feet is increased. This position is essentially a
rectangular arrangement of the limbs of the body.
Tribhanga or Tribunga is a (tri-bent pose) standing body position or stance used in the traditional
Indian sculpture, art and Indian classical dance forms like the Odissi. As compared with the
contrapposto pose Tribhanga, literally meaning three parts break, consists of three bends in the
body; at the neck, waist and knee, hence the body is oppositely curved at waist and neck which
gives it a gentle "S" shape and is considered the most graceful and sensual of the Odissi positions. It
is closely associated with Hindu deity, Krishna, who is often portrayed in the posture.

Odissi dancer maintaining tribhangi position

The chowka or chaulk is a half sitting posture in Odissi in which the equilibrium of weight is
maintained but the distance between the two feet is increased. This position is essentially a
rectangular arrangement of the limbs of the body.
B. Body positions in Bharatanatyam :
It is a very important posture in Bharatanatyam. The Aramandi posture is a half sitting position
with the knees turned sideways with a very erect posture. In this posture the back should not jut
out, the stomach should not protrude and the torso should not bend forward. It's a half sitting
position and should be adjusted according to the height of the dancer. This is the first stance that a
student of dance is required to master to be a good dancer. Kathakali, MohiniAttam, Kuchipudi
also have the basic positions.

UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures


UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

Activity - 4
Learn the body positions and practice with the steps and slowly add the hand
gestures. Ensure that as you do body position, footwork and hand movements and
you keep the precise nature of the dance form. Practice helps to gain better control
and coordination of the body position, footwork and hand gestures.

Understand and follow the processes in the teachinglearning of dance

Know what is guru-shishya parampara :

Most dancers learn to begin any dance lesson with prayer. This beginning is called Bhumi Pranam.
Besides regular lessons, performances also begin with a prayer piece. The Bhumi Pranam is a
prayer to god, the guru, mother earth and the audience. In the teaching learning of dance, the
dancer learns that respect for the teacher (the guru) is of primary importance. The learning of
movement is best learnt one to one which promotes a strong relation with the guru. In fact often in
classical dance the guru-shishya parampara is a well-known model relationship. This
Parampara or sustaining the tradition is important to keep the purity of movements and the
dance form. This deep respect for the teacher helps in learning with commitment which leads to the
complete respect for the Guru.
The Guru shishya parampara is unique to the performing arts because skill in the performing arts
like music, dance or playing instruments is incomplete unless there is correct transfer of technique.
The specific features include the correct body postures, body positions and maintaining the body
stances while in nritta or nritya. The imbibing of the skills in dance is learnt both by observation,
practice and the will of the teacher. At times if the guru is able to spot weak talent and feels a lack of
interest in the learning the willingness to invest in the student is not high. The tradition of the art is

UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

sustained on mastering the technique and the unique orientation of each style. Guru shishya
relation is crucial to sustaining the art. In modern times SPICMACAY that is Society for the
Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Arts Amongst Youth an initiative of art lovers has
introduced internship in the Guru Shishya parampara where the leaner goes and lives with an
artist and understands the significance of riyaz (practice) and mastering the technique. Activity 5:
Look at different videos showing different classical dance forms. Identify the various parts of the
dance and the unique features of the dance. Complete worksheet 3
Without a total obedience the learning of the classical art would be difficult. it is only after learning
the basic rules of dance that a dancer can experiment. In fact the concept of guru shishya parampara is
very closely related to the performing arts.

Activity - 5
Look at different videos showing different classical dance forms. Identify the various
parts of the dance and the unique features of the dance. Complete worksheet 3
Look at the chart of asmyukta mudras given below and identify at least 10 and write their names

1. ______________________________________
2. ______________________________________
3. ______________________________________
4. ______________________________________
5. ______________________________________
6. ______________________________________


UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

Identify the mudra(s) given below and write few lines about them in the space provided:


UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures


UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures

Identify one of the two forms of dance in the pair of dance pictures shown below and write
down the differences between the costumes of the two dances in the space provided.




UNIT-III : Hand Gestures and Body Postures







Dance and Society


l Folk dances and dance schools

- Defining folk dances

- Local dances and popular dances
- Folk songs & dances in different regions
- Famous dance schools


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Defining folk dances
Folk dances are defined as celebrations by groups of people in neighbourhoods or in communities.
It would be interesting to provide students with little projects to explore what are the cultural
methods adopted by the local people. Are there any songs that are prevalent in the languages
spoken by the people in the neighbourhood? Are there any popular songs? What is the music that
plays on the local radio or television? How do the people celebrate festivals? While classical dances
are spiritual, folk dances are intricate part of people's everyday lives and provide celebratory
moments. Folk dances are related to festivals and rituals and are the direct expressions of the
people's collective joy.

Local dances and popular dances

Folk Dances of Kerala
1. Kaikotti Kali / Thiruvathirakali:
Kaikotti Kali folk dance is also known, as Thiruvathirakali.It is a very popular, graceful and
symmetric group-dance performed by the women of Kerala.It is a ceremonial dance often
performed during festive seasons like Thiruvathira and Onam. It is a simple and gentle dance with
the lasya element forming its main part in overall dance. Sometimes, even men also participate in it
as seen in some parts of the Malabar area. This time the thandava part is also brought in dance
performance occasionally.

2. Kolkkali:
Kolkali is a group dance form of the farming community in Kerala. It is a mixed dance in which
both men and women can participate. All the performers move in a circle, striking small sticks and
keeping rhythm with special steps. The circle gets expanded and contracted as the dance
progresses further. When the accompanying music rises at a pitch, the dance reaches at its climax.
Around twelve to twenty four dancers move rhythmically in a circle around the ceremonial lamp,
tapping the two feet long wooden sticks held in their hand.

Folk dances of Rajasthan

1. Kalbeliya Dance:
The Kalbeliyas, a snake-charmer community from Rajasthan performs this dance. They rely
heavily on this dance performance for their living.
The Kalbeliya women dancers wear long, black coloured, drindled-skirts heavily worked with
embroidery and light-coloured thread along with small pieces of mirrors. This get-up draws the
attention in a somewhat strange way. Black is the base colour of these dresses looks amazingly


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

2. Kathputlis:
Kathputlis are a type of puppets. Rajasthan is famous for its puppet-playing tradition. String
puppets or Kathputli dance in Rajasthan is an old tradition. In this dance the puppeteer uses
ballads to narrate the stories. These stories or tales of romance and chivalry are told with
movements of string puppets. In olden days, puppeteers used to travel from place to place through
various villages to entertain people. Through puppets, the puppeteer tells the stories of legendary
heroes or historic events are narrated through it.

3. Ghoomer Dance :
Ghoomer dance is a community dance of women in Rajasthan. It is performed on various
auspicious occasions like fairs & festivals. It is the famous dance of Rajasthan. It is called as
`Ghoomer`, from the `ghoomna` of ghaghra i.e. the flowing of ghaghra, a long skirt of the
Rajasthani women. The graceful gyrating of ghaghra displays the spectacular colours as it flows
due to dancing steps. It is basically a community dance of the Rajputs. It is traditionally performed
only by the women. There are simple swaying movements with special kind of footwork, to convey
the spirit of any auspicious occasion. However, there is an amazing grace as the skirt flair slowly
while the women folk twirl in circles, their faces covered with the help of the veil.
Women young or old, can participate in Ghoomar dance. Sometimes it may continue for hours or
whole night. It is considered as one of the traditional rituals among this community. So, on the
occasion of marriage, a bride is expected to dance Ghoomar after welcoming at her husband`s
While dancing, the dancers move in a circular direction with clockwise and anti-clockwise steps.
The performers sometimes unite their hands and even clap their hand in-between. The performers
move gracefully on the beat of the songs in synchronizing steps. As the tempo of the dance
increases, the dancers swirl fleetly.

Folk Dances of Karnataka

1. Yakshgana:
Although there exists conflict about the origination of folk theatre form of Yakshgana, it is agreed
that it is an ancient art. Some believe that it emerged in the 16th century and by others in the 18th
century. Its origins and growth can be traced back in Sanskrit literature in its theatre on the one
hand, and even in Kannada literature and the many forms of ritual dancing and music prevalent in
the area on the other. It relates with many of the traditions and conventions of the Sanskrit theatre
or drama, particularly those of the Purvaranga, and the existence of a character, vidushak. The
original form of Yakshgana involves the use of recitative modes of poetry sung in loud voice,
melodies of music, rhythm, and dance techniques and above all, costuming and graceful make up.
It is distinctly different in many ways from the norms of the Sanskrit stage, as it does not contain a
highly elaborate language of hand gestures and eye- gestures. But it should be noted that it is
closely related to developments in literature in the adjoining states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil
Nadu and has some affinities to literary forms.

UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

2. Kolaattam:
Kolaattam is an ancient village folk art, famous in all parts of state. Kol means a small stick, and
Attam means play, so a play or dance performed with sticks` can be its simplest meaning. This is
mentioned in Kanchipuram as `Cheivaikiyar Kolattam`, which proves its antiquity. Only women
participants can perform this dance, holding two sticks in each hand, beaten to bring a rhythmic
background. Pinnal Kolaattam is also a form of this dance where ropes are used instead of sticks.
One end of these ropes is held in women`s hand while the other is tied to a tall pole. In a course of
action, with planned steps, the women skip over each other, which forms intricate lace-like
patterns in the ropes. As various colourful ropes are used, this picture is very eye-catchy. Again,
they unweave the lace by reversing the dance steps. The group coordination of women participants
is rewardable. This is performed for ten days, starting with the Amavasi or Newmoon night after

3. Pavai Koothu:
Pavai Koothu is considered as a form of early year`s puppet shows. Some called it as a glove puppet
theatre of the sixteenth century. Pavai means `woman`, koothu means `play`. An appropriate name
as all the stories concern with the feelings of Vali, one of Lord Shiva`s attendants, for Subramanya,
one of Shiva`s sons.
The papier-mache puppets are used for this performance. These puppets are generally one foot tall
in height and wear paper or coconut-fiber garlands. A single person to work as manipulator is
required to monitor the show. His thumb and little finger move the puppet`s arms, the middle
finger works for the head. The language of the show is predominantly Tamil, and the songs are
predominantly folk in nature. The idakka drum and cymbals are used for music of the

Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

1. Karagam:
Karagam is a most popular folk dance form that is accompanied by the music. The villagers in
praise of the rain goddess "Mari Amman" and river goddess "Gangai Amman perform this dance as
a part of their custom .In this dance, balancing of water pot on the head is done beautifully. It is
believed that Karagam is originated in Thanjavur, a village in Tamilnadu. In Sangam literature, it is
termed as `Kudakoothu`.
Traditionally, this dance is performed in two types - one, `Aatta Karagam` and the other `Sakthi
Karagam`. Aatta Karagam is danced with decorated pots on the head and symbolizes joy and
happiness. While the `Sakthi Karagam` is performed only in temples and is mainly danced for
entertainmening purpose. Earlier it was performed only with accompaniment of the Naiyandi
Melam, but now it includes songs also.


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

2. Naga Dance:
The Nagas are simple people, can be described well by the term tribal. Its own dialect, customs and
traditional costumes characterize each tribe, with the common link being their passion for music &
dance. The term "Naga" is derived from Sanskrit word "Nag" which means "person belongs to hilly
region or simply hill-men". Nagaland is the home of various hill-tribes among them Popular is
The term "Naga" is general which covers many tribes of that region. In fact the Naga is a generic
term that encompasses many tribal communities that are spread all over the hills and plains of
northeast India. Some of the characteristics belongs to a warrior race. They are tall, robust,
hardworking, brave, self-reliant, artistic, freedom-loving, good looking and possess a more
importantly inborn instinct for color and intricate designs even dancing steps. They are also known
for their keen sense of humor as a natural gift, splendid war dances and wealthy folk songs.

3. Jhummar Dance:
The Jhummar dance is a dance of ecstasy. It is a living testimony of the happiness of men, so
performed only by men. At any time Jhummar is performed but mostly at a time of melas, weddings
and other major functions and celebrations. Performed exclusively by men, it is a common feature
to see three generations - father, son and grandson - dancing all together. Therefore, in some part it
is termed as generation dance. There are three main types of Jhummar dance, each of which has a
different mood, and is therefore suited to different occasions & for all reason of that predominating

Folk Dances of Punjab

1. Bhangra Dance:
Bhangra is one of most popular dances of India performed during Baisakhi only by the men in
Punjab. Among the most virile, vigorous and captivating dances of India, Bhangra includes tricks
and acrobatic feats in its performance. The songs include recitation of meaningless `bolis`, words
such as hoay, hoay. Or Balle, Balle...
The Bhangra is perhaps the most virile form of Indian Folk Dances. It strongly reflects the vigour,
the vitality, the leaven of exuberance, and the hilarity permeated among the rural folk due to the
promise of a coming bumper crop. The drummer usually is standing in the centre of the circle & is
surrounded by dancers.

Folk Dances of West Bengal

1. Chhau Dance:
The Chhau dance of West Bengal is originated from Purulia district. It is included in the
sophisticated dance performances of Bengal. The Chhau dance is a mask dance in which only male
dancers can participate. In the performance of the Chhau, some of the characteristics of primitive

UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

ritualistic dance performance are noted. This can be also seen through its vigour, style and musical
accompaniment mainly with the drum.
In the early period, various shaped symbols were used as facial painting or body painting by
dancers. Thus, they are recognized as personifying the characters they are playing in the
performance. And later on, the masks appeared in the dance performances. It is said that, the best
Chhau dancers are from Baghmundi P.S. Many groups or parties are located from here for the best
performance because of their traditional vigorous and heroic style of performance.

Folk Dances of Manipur:

1. Pung Cholom:
Pung Cholom is also known as Mrindanga Kirtan or Dhumal or Dram dance. This dance is
performed with a drum, Mrindanga. This dance performed by only males either as integral parts of
Nata Sankirtan or independently in front of social gathering.
When it is a part of Nata, two players participate in its performance, but as an independent dance
performance at least 14 players follow the sequence of Nata Sankirtan. In this series with more than
40 complicated talas and sanchars that represent particular compositions of rhythms are
The general rules that are organized for its performance make it a distinct type. These are related
with religious festivals of the Hindus. The number of players may increase at times up to 100. The
performance is full of various types of body movements that are executed with great artistic skills
and excitement. Sometimes, Mrindanda creates the sounds of thunder, voice of birds and animals.
The movements at initial stage are soft, but later on become momentous and vigorous. This adds to
its characteristics. The performers wear a special type of turban, which they drop by their flicking
of heads and with their movements. These turbans are mostly of light coloured.
This art form is full of stylish movements and ritualistic in nature. Lot of practice is required before
the actual performance is done. It is advised that right from the teenage one must start working in
this direction. The aspirant candidates must engage his worship for decades before he can claim for

Folk dance of Assam. Meghalaya, Mizoram

1. Bihu Dance:
Bihu is the most popular & colorful folk dance of Assam. The dance is performed in the Bihu
festival, celebrated for the arrival of spring in the Assamese New Year. The people of Assam enjoy
this festival a lot. This is extremely energetic, fast & eye-catching dance performance with the
rhythmic exuberance of Bihu. Bihu dances are performed by young boys and girls characterized by
brisk stepping, flinging and movements of hands, stylish footwork and swaying of hips represents
youthful passion & reproductive urge.


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Bihu dance is performed in the seedtime and also during the season of marriage. In fact, the festival
had its roots in some earlier fertility cult. This preoccupation with fertility, both vegetal and human
is reflected in the songs and dance with their overly erotic movements and expressions depicting
the joys of spring and youth. In essence, the Bihu dance is a perfect expression of feelings of youth
and energy. Amidst nature`s pristine beauty, youths perform this dance accompanied by songs of
erotic sentiment, virtile beating of drums called Dhol, soft strains of Pepa made buffalo horns and
manjire, tokka (bamboo clappers) and many more indigenous musical instruments. The dance has
been noted for maintaining authenticity and at the same time displaying the traditional Assamese
handlooms and handicrafts in their glory and beauty by the dancers.

Folk dance of Meghalaya

1. Nongkrem:
`Nongkrem` is the name of an important folkdance from the Meghalaya. The Khasis tribe of
Meghalaya is related with its performance. They also celebrate the ripening of paddy for threshing
by the way of dancing and singing.This dance is performed in the Nogkrem dance festival.
Though, the Nongkrem dance had a purpose of celebration, it is also performed for community
peace. The Khasi is the hill region, where India`s last remaining royalty is seen.
The Nongkrem dance festival of the Khasi tribe in India`s northeastern Meghalaya State is a
multipurpose event. With the reason of this event, all tribes of this hilly region area people meet
together from their scattered hamlets. They strongly believe in-group prayer or community
gathering. Through this dance performance, they give thanks to the gods for a bountiful harvest.
They also prey to nature to keep up the timely delivery of rain and ward off evil disasters. The
dancing steps are very simple. Similarly, there is no any kind of agelimit to take part in the

2. Khuallam Dance:
Khuallam is a dance that is performed at the time of ceremony called `Khuangchawi`. It is also
known as `dance of the guests`. During the `Khuangchawi` ceremony, the invited guests enter the
area performing Khuallam.
Special type of Mizo cloths that are hand woven are wore for the dance. They are generally called as
Puandum. It is wrapped over the shoulders and the dance is performed. In performing various
dancing steps the swaying of cloths is seen. The costumes are colourful, having stripes of black, red,
yellow and green colours. These typical costumes are very much significant in their culture, as
every girl has to take it along with her after getting married. If the husband of her dies, this cloth is
used for covering his body.
The dance is performed with an accompaniment of the sounds of gongs known as darbu`.
Similarly, there is no lyrics for the song that is sung. It is usually performed in large numbers. This
dance can be termed as community dance


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Folk dance of mizoram
1. Cheraw Dance:
Most of the dances of Mizoram are performed during the time of festival. Generally, these folk
dances are group dances. Cheraw dance is most popularly known as `Bamboo dance`. Bamboos
are used in the performance of the dance, from which the dance is named so. Both men and women
come together & perform the bamboo dance of Mizoram. While the men hold the bamboos, the
women folk dance between the bamboos.
In the performance, the dancer moves by stepping alternatively in and out from between and
across a pair of horizontal bamboos. People mostly sitting in facing to either side hold these
bamboos against the ground. People in a sitting position, tap the bamboos, open and close it as per
the rhythmic beats. Two bases support the bamboos that are placed horizontally, one at each end.
The movements created by bamboos at the time of clapping produce a sharp sound. This particular
sound forms the rhythm of the dance. It also indicates the timing for the dancing steps as well. The
dancers perform various attractive steps in and out on the beats of the bamboos. Generally, the
patterns and stepping of the dance have many variations that are very much graceful. Sometimes
the stepping are made in imitation of the movements of birds, sometimes to show the swaying of
trees, and it goes on.

Folk Dances of Bihar

1. Bidesia:
Bidesia is a popular form of dance drama, originated in a twentieth century folk theatre and
prevalent in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar.It is believed that the creator of this play is
Bhikari Thakur, a person barber by profession (from a backward class), left everything in affection
of drama. His dramas are dealt with many social issues, contradictory topics & conflict between the
traditional and the modern, the urban and rural, and the rich and the poor.

2. Harvesting Dance:
Agriculture is the main source of earning livelihood in Bihar. This fact is reflected in a better way
from all kinds of folk arts. Harvesting is the main field activity while farming. In the harvesting
season, male and female villagers do their work on field & dance with singing. It is believed that
there happiness and joy is the symbol of upcoming good harvest. Such dances are closely
connected with the local culture & tradition.

3. Kajari:
Kajari is a song of rainy season. The popular melodious tune of Kajari songs produces a sweet
sensation in body and it is sung from beginning of the Shravan month with the rhythmic note of
rainy drops. The main content of these songs is about describing pleasant change that is derived by
rainy season. Not only nature get changed in green colour, but mental refreshment & relaxation
that is associated with human beings is also well described in these kinds of songs.

UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Folk Dances of Madhya Pradesh
1. Maanch:
Maanch is a form of operatic ballet that is very popular in Malwa. It is a lyrical folk drama of Malwa
region of the State Madhya Pradesh. The language of the Maanch is traditionally Malwi, although,
now Hindi is also being used in its performance. It is believed that Guru Balmokand, who died
quiet an early age, started modern Maanch, during a performance of Genda Pari ("The fairy of the
Marigold Flower"). He left sixteen plays, which are still popular in Malwa region.
The word Maanch is derived from the Sanskrit folk-form, "Manch"."Manch" means the stage or
place of performance. As an indigenous & distinct folk-form, Maanch has its beginning in the
seventeenth century.
Maanch is performed in open space with barest of theatrical equipments.

2. Dandia-Ras:
The most popular Dandia-Ras is also known as the `stick` dance. An another form of dance that is
also a feature of most welcomed festival, Navratri.
The word Ras in `Dandia-Ras` signifies Ras dance, which is, considered a form of Ras Leela. Ras
Leela, which was an inseparable part of Lord Krishna`s childhood action he used to perform at
Gokul and Vrindavan. The Ras is simple and is generally performed by a group of youthful people
who move in typical style in measured steps around a circle, accompanied by a singing chorus and
a host of musical instruments like the dhol, cymbals, zanz, shehnai (flute).
It is one of India`s most popular folk dances & is full of energy and excitement. It is considered that
this dance form is from the Limbdi region of Gujarat (a state in Western India), over a period of
time, the Dandiya Ras has imbibed in all parts of India. Like most folk dances of India, the Ras too is
one of collective impulse and enthusiasm. It`s always performed in a group. In the ancient times,
men essentially performed this folk dance. And it said that Dandia -Ras counterpart to the Garba,
exclusively performed by women. Today it is equally enjoyed and danced by both men and

3. Charkula Dance:
This is the most spectacular dance performance from Uttar Pradesh. It is widely performed in the
Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. In the performance of Charkula, veiled women with balancing a large
multi-tiered circular wooden pyramid on their heads, dance in various steps. The wooden pyramid
is lighted with 108 oil lamps. The women dance on the `rasiya` songs of Lord Krishna., Charkula
dance is especially performed on the third day after the Holi festival- on Dooj. On this day, Radha, a
concert of Krishna was born.


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Folk Dance of Gujarat
1. Garba Dance:
Garba dance, famous in all parts of India, is originally a popular folk Dance of Gujarat. This dance
form has connection with Shakti-Puja i.e. worship of goddess having powers over all. Its origin is
believed to be in the worship of goddess Jagdamba. It is played in a circular form performed by
ladies on the nine nights of Navaratri festival, Sharad Purnima, Vasant Panchami, Holi and such
other festive occasions. The word Garba is derived from the word `Garbha Deep` (a lamp inside a
perforated earthen pot). The light inside the perforated earthen pot symbolised the embryonic life.
This also signifies value of knowledge (light), as opposed to the darkness (ignorance).
In this folk dance, ladies place the pot known as Garba with the lamp on their heads and move in
circular direction, singing at the same time measure by clapping their palms or snapping their
fingers, to the accompaniment of folk instruments. Even in some villages of Gujarat, one would
find tradition of a "Light" (Deevo-Kodiyun) in an earthen pot with the holes all around, placed in
the center on a stool and colourful dressed ladies dance around it clapping their hands in beats and
singing Mataji`s songs.

Folk Dances of Maharashtra

1. Koli Dance :
Koli is one of the most popular folk dance form of Maharashtra State that derives its name from the
fisher folk of Maharashtra - Kolis. These community people are famous for their distinct identity
among others and for their lively dances. Their dances consist of elements from their daily work
related to the fishing.
Both men and women in a group perform this dance. Both of them make their single row or stand in
pair. These fishermen portray the movement of the rowing of a boat in this dance form. Sometimes,
they also portray the movements of waves and the casting of nets to catch the fish.


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Activity - 1
Learn one folk dance from the teacher. And explore the local celebrations and learn
one local dance
Prepare a scrapbook with pictures of different types of folk dances and label them.
Complete worksheet 1 and 2

Folk songs & dances in different regions

In India each region has variations as well as certain common ways to celebrate. Whether it's the
farming community, fishing community or the Kalbelias living in the desert in Rajasthan evening
time is collective and spent in singing and dancing.
The class could do projects to study a particular region of India and search out the unique folk
dance. They will discover that different parts of the country present richness of the arts. The North
east is marked by a predominant use of drums, bamboo and even cymbals. The men dance with
drums and give the beat as they perform.

Activity - 2
a) Pick up any one folk song which you like and write down its lyrics with the
b) Prepare some steps for the song and share this song with the other students.

Famous dance schools

Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya New Delhi
Bhartiya kala Kendra New Delhi
Odissi Research Centre Bhubaneshwar
Kalakshetra, Chennai


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

A. Write down the states to which the following folk dances belong to:
1. Dandia-Ras: ________________________________
2. Cheraw Dance: _____________________________
3. Nongkrem: ________________________________
4. Bhangra Dance: _____________________________
5. Karagam: __________________________________
6. Kajari: _____________________________________
7. Ghoomer Dance: ____________________________
8. Pavai Koothu: _______________________________

B. Fill up the missing spaces and complete the name of the folk dance:
1. KO_A_TT_ _
2. K_L_E_ _YA
3. TH_ _U_AT_I_A_A_I
4. B_D_S_A
5. M_AN_H


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society

Identify the folk dances in the pictures given below and describe them:


UNIT-IV : Dance and Society