Describing a dance form is as beautiful as the dance itself. The elegance with which one moves, the music that accompanies, the expression that adds life to the dance and the effort that is masked under an ease that had come through many years of dedication; there is even more that adds beauty to this assortment. It is not that simple to define dance. When dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak etc. remain well-known, our country is rich with several other dance forms that remain known only to a handful of people. We take you through the multitude of dance forms that are lesser known yet vie in their elegance and style. This is not a complete list but a part of it. Here’s discovering the rare variety in Indian dance that never surfaced to the kind of popularity as other forms.
Thidambu Nritham- dedication to deity:
Thidambu Nritham is a ritual dance that you mostly get to see in temples. The performers are Namboothiris who dance by carrying the beautifully adorned deity on their head. Watching them perform fills you with the same spiritual spirit with which they dance. Take a trip to the temples of Northern Malabar (Kerala) to become enchanted by this dance form.
Chhau- The blend of martial arts and dance:
Costumes have the power to enhance or make a performance appear insipid. But Chhau is one form of dance in which costumes are bound to blow your mind. The costumes and masks add an element of extravagance like no other form does. Chhau is a mix of martial practices as well as dance that makes it a powerful art to perform. This tribal martial dance is popular in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
Kalbelia- the dance of the Rajasthan tribes:
Have you ever wondered if snakes could be an inspiration behind dance movements? The Kalbelia people are a tribal group from Rajasthan. They trade snake venom and catch snakes for a living. That is one of the reasons why their dance movements and costumes are closely associated with the serpents. Though they have been unfairly called outclassed people by the society, I see no reason to neglect their intricate dance movements which deserves all due respect.
Sambalpuri- the Lok Mahotsav:
Sambalpur situated in Western Odisha has a very unique identity. They celebrate the Lok Mahotsav where “Lok” means people. Sambalpuri dance comprises of several ritual folk dances, Dalkhai, Karma, Humo, Bauli and Kosabadi dances to name a few. This is one of the dance forms that are filled with grace and elegant movements. Women wear alta on their feet which makes it even more beautiful. The uniformity with which the performers move to the music will hold you enchanted.
Choliya- the sword dance:
The Kumauni people are very well known for their martial traditions. This dance form originated in the state of Gujarat and it was performed only on marriage processions, but now the performers entertain on many other occasions. It is believed that this dance adds auspiciousness to a marriage event thus casting away all evil spirits. We cannot be sure of that but the dance is colourful and lively and definitely is vibrant enough to be auspicious.
Yakshagana- the theatre art:
Yakshagana is a dance form popular in the state of Karnataka. It is a blend of acting and dialogues that try to convey a story. One highlight of this dance is that it demands spontaneous acting from the artists. More than the dance, it reflects the ability of the performer to balance dance with theatre art. The people concerned who are called the Yakshas, belong to an exotic tribe that has been mentioned in the Sanskrit Literature. If your focus is on acting more than dancing, then this artistic form will satiate you for sure.
Bacha Nagma- as beautiful as the state itself:
Kashmir is very well known for its beautiful location, mountains and other tourist spots. It is a state that can also take pride in the kind of culture it portrays. One of the elements of their rich culture is the Bacha Nagma dance form. A speciality about Bacha Nagma is that it is performed by children dressed as women. They dance on sufi songs and it is a delight to watch them. This dance has its origins from the Hafiza dance which had women instead of children dancing to similar music