Kathak is the predominant dance of north India. This form of dance gets its name from the word "Katha" (story), since it originated from the devotional recitation of the storytellers or Kathakars who were attached to the temples.

Kathak has two major techniques. They are Nritha, meaning pure dance, and Abhinaya, meaning expressions. The predominant styles of the dance are the intricate footwork and rapid pirouettes. The typical Kathak costume resembles the Mughal miniature paintings. This form of dance is performed by both men and women.

A Kathak dancer is not required strictly to adhere to fixed steps and stages in a fixed order. He or she can change the sequence of stages to suit his or her aptitude and style of dancing. There is a sort of contest during the performance in which the drummer plays and weaves a complex design which in turn is danced by the dancer, specially in the item which is technically known as jagaj dikhana. It is a kind of friendly challenge and competition between the two full of innovations and improvisations.


Odissi is the traditional dance of the state of Orissa. Odissi is a dance of divine, human, love and passion. The performance is soft and lyrical. Most of the poses of this form of dance are inspired by the temple carvings of Orissa. The dresses worn by the dancers are similar to the sculptures. The dancers wear colorful costumes and traditional silver jewellery. Elaborate ornaments are worn specially on the hips.

Odissi dance performance involves a balance between pure dance, expressional dance and a combination of acting and dance.

Bharatha Natyam

Bharatha Natyam is one of the oldest form of dance. This form of dance is based on the ancient text on dance. Bharatha stands for BHAva(mood), RAga(music), and TAla(rhythm), while Natyam stands for Nritta. Movement, mime and music are given equal importance in Bharatha Natyam. A Bharatha Natyam performance is rendered by a solo artist, or a duo, or as a group. Bharatha Natyam is poetry in motion.

It is a highly specialised science with a traditional background and rigid codes and conventions. The technique of Bharata Natyam consists of 64 principles of coordinated hand, foot, face and body movements which are performed to the accompaniment of dance syllables.

The costumes used in a performance are elaborate. The dancers dress in specially designed colorful silk costumes and wear head ornaments, necklaces and bangles. Flowers are wound around their long plait.


Kuchipudi performances are dance dramas.. In a Kuchipudi performance, each principal character introduces himself or herself on the stage with a small composition of dance and song, specially designed to identify the character.

Kuchipudi costumes look similar to Bharathanatyam costumes. Elegant foot work is an important aspect of Kuchipudi. Some special performances include those of dancing on brass plates and moving the plate with the feet to the tune of accompanying music. Yet another is the formation of beautiful floor patterns using efficient feet movements.

According to tradition, Kuchipudi was originally performed only by Brahmin men. They never allowed women in their groups.


Mohiniattam is a semi-classical dance form of Kerala. It is essentially a solo dance, perfomed by women. The word Mohini means a maiden who steals the heart of the onlooker.

Mohiniattam involves delicate footsteps and subtle expressions. The movements are graceful and the costumes are sober and attractive. The vocal music for Mohiniattam is classical Carnatic.

Mohiniattam has flavours of Bharata Natyam and Kathakali in it. Mohiniattam maintains a realistic makeup and simple dressing. The Mohiniattam costume includes a white jacket and white sari, and tresses bedecked with jasmine flowers.


Kathakali is the traditional dance of the people of Kerala. It is a well-developed dance-drama where the actors depict characters from the Indian mythologies. Kathakali combines dance with dialogue to bring myth and legend to life.
Kathakali is perfomed with elaborate masks and costumes. The dancers wear huge skirts and headdress, and the make-up is very intricate. Kathakali performances are generally in open air on a stage covered with coarse mats, with brass lamp providing the lighting. The dance is performed to the tune of Chenda, a drum like instrument that produces thundering beats, and the Maddala, which produces a softer and relaxed sound, along with the large bronze cymbal. All these three instruments are used in unison to herald the performance.

Kathakali makes strenuous demands on its exponents because it is the only dance form in which the entire body, both skeleton and muscles, down to even the smallest facial muscle are used to portray emotion.
The actor in kathakali never speaks expect with his hands. The text of the drama is sung for him and is the baseline for his interpretation. It is in histrionics or interpretive dancing that the Kathakali artist excels, the spectator's experience enhanced by the thrilling drum beats.

It has been described as a true representation of the artistic traditions of India and one of the most magnificent theatres of the imagination.
Kathakali was traditionally the preserve of men, but now women also perform the dance.


Manipuri Dance is a generic name and covers all the dance-forms of the land, Manipur.

Manipuri lays emphasis in involving the entire body in the dance other than the facial expression. This form of dance lays emphasis on lyrical grace and delicacy of hand gestures.

There are many myths and legends which reveal the Manipuris passionate love for arts, particularly for dance, music and mime. These are woven into the very fabric of their life like a beautiful pattern.

Today Manipuri Dance has become a ruling passion and an aesthetic obsession for initiated artists and the spectators alike because of its colourful adornment, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of abhinaya, lilting music and poetic charm.

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