8 Forms of Indian Classical Dance | Chennai Chess Olympiad | India’s Diversified Culture | Tamilnadu

India have extremely diverse dance forms including 8 principal/classical dance forms and hundreds of folk dances.


Originating from Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam dance style is an ancient and oldest classical dance form in India. Earlier its name was Sadhir Attam. Bharatanatyam is a dance that tells stories.

Historical reference of Bharatanatyam style is found in spics like Manimegali as well as Silappatikaram. written in the 6th and 2nd centuries, respectively. 

Furthermore, the carvings in Kanchipuram’s Shiva temple, suggest Bharatanatyam dance and style was developed as performance art by the first Millenium.


The dance form Kathak originated from the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is a mix of worshipping deities and story narration. Grace, hand gestures and body pose as well as eye movements combine to make Kathak a graceful sight. 


Originating from Odisha, this dance form like Bharatanatyam is also a temple dance form. Odissi is popular worldwide for its lyricism. The ‘bhakti bhava’ aspect, of an Odissi performance, is surreal.


Hailing from the state of Manipur, this dance form is based on the ‘Raasleela’ trope where Radha and Lord Krishna share a dance. As it desires inspiration from Lord Krishna, Manipuri is considered a religious dance form, which combines singing as well as dancing


Combining dance, drama as well as rigorous footwork, Mohiniyattam is a classical dance native to Kerala. Its name comes from two words Mohini and aattam meaning the graceful body movements of a woman. Its literal translation means dance of the enchantress. Therefore, people regard Mohiniyattam as a highly graceful dance form performed by women.


This Indian dance form gets its name from the Kuchipudi village in the state of Andhra Pradesh.


The dance drama, Kathakali originated in the 17th Century, Kerala. It is a blend of devotion, drama, music as well as dance. Most of the themes of Kathakali are inspired by Indian epics.


This famous dance form is from Assam. There are several different forms of Sattriya such as Mati Akhara, Jhumura, Krishna Nritya, Nadubhangi, Gopi Prabesh, Gosain Prabesh, Chali, etc.


Other than the classical dances there were many forms of rural Folk dances existed in India since the human origin. Rock art paintings depicting group dances denotes the antiquity of dancing . Tholkaappiyar(Sangam Age Author) mentions many types of rural group dances as well as the abinayas of classical dance. One of the rural dance mentioned by him was THUNANGAI . It has special two varieties as THAZHVU THUNANGAI and THOAL THUNANGAI. Thoal THUNANGAI is still performed as Baangra dance in Punjab. The above Tamil word Thoal THUNANGAI – தோள் துணங்கை means shaking the shoulders and arms .

THAZHUVU THUNANGAI தழுவு துணங்கை is performed in Andhra Pradesh and Santal villages in Bihar. Seven ladies will form in a circle , embrace each other by hip and begin to dance for three hours in moon light. The very slow movements with elegant steps matching the slow drum beatings enchant everybody. They say their forefathers came from Indus valley. The same picture is narrated in the third Tamil academy (sangam) literature Pathittrupatthu .The king helps to begin the dance and the dance of the group of ladies continues for a long time. This must be the oldest dance form in India .

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