Origin of Indian Dance
Lord Shiva is believed to have danced to create the world. He gave regular rhythm to the universe, movement of the sun, the moon, stars and circulation of four seasons. He is thought of as a King of Dances. Nataraja and his consort Parvati are referred to as Pioneer of Dances. Parvati created the feminine form of dance as Lasya, while Lord Shiva’s apprentice, Tandu spread Tandava on earth. Indian dance has great cultural value. Many tales describe its origin in the world of Gods.
Aesthetics of Indian Dance
Indian dance has 3 aspects, namely, Nritta, Nritya and Natya. Nritta is a dance of pure rhythm. It expresses feelings and emotions and enacts a story using gestures. In fact, Nritta and Nritya are combined. Natya has a story in the dramatic dances. It shows emotions and feelings for the story with gestures and poses as in Kathakali dance form of down south.
Use of Mudras in Indian Dance
Mudras are the most important aspect of Indian dance. It refers to the gestures made with hands and fingers. Their meanings differ in the north and south of India, also between Kathakali and Bharat Natyam. Mudras are of 2 kinds as One-handed Mudra, in which gestures are made by single hand. There are 37 such mudras. Contrary, is Both-handed Mudras, in which both the two hands are used. They are 14 in number. A combination of the two kinds is also used. They make upto 38 mudras, depicting the truth, creation, Star, victory, order, etc.
Classical Dances in India
Kathak: It is the oldest and the most popular classical dance of India. Kathak was under the protection and royalty and nobility of the Mughal dynasty. On the Japanese soil we find a similar tradition in Geisha dance. It was originated by a competition between Lord Shiva and Parvati. Kathak is composed of 2 parts, the Tala and the Gatha. Tala is a part of the footwork while Gatha is a gesture. It is danced to each bit (Tukra), played on the Tabla and the Sarangi. Its rhythm is called Laya and is divided into 3 parts. The Kathak dance themes are mostly on Lord Krishna say depicting his childhood pranks, or doing a spring dance with his milkmaids (Gopis). Some themes are related to Lord Shiva and Parvati and some of Lord Shiva and Raksha. It is a very exotic form of dance. The center of Kathak dance is Lucknow in the North of India. In the 19th century, there lived a famous court dancer in Lucknow, named, Taluka Prasad. Other places from where famous Kathak dancers have made history are Jaipur and Banaras.
Other important Indian dances include the Manipuri style of dancing, Kathakali and Bharat Natayam.