Dance in India has a history of 2000 years. Most of the dance forms were inspired by legends and mythology. We bring to you 9 such interesting dance forms which seem to have been left confined to remote areas or are on the verge of being forgotten with the passage of time. They are our Lesser Known Dance Forms of India
1. Bacha Nagma
This dance style can trace its roots from the Hafiza Dance forms. This originated in Kashmir in which talented young boys dress up as women. Danced on melodious Sufi tunes, this dance form is a delight to watch.
2. Thidambu Nrithyam
A trip to the temples of North Kerala might earn you a Thidambu Nrithyam performance. This dance dedicated to deities will soothe your spiritual soul too. carrying the decorated image of the deity on the head and dancing is the signature of this dance form.
This Assamese origin dance form is one of the oldest classical Indian dance style. With the multiple instruments which are used when it is performed, Sattriya is definitely becomes an energising form of dance. It is a confluence of a Ballad, a dance and drama and usually depicts themes related to Vishnu avtaars such as Lord Krishna & Radha , Lord Ram and Sita.
Origins come from the Eastern states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha. A blend of martial arts, tribal f olk and dance, Chhau is a powerful dance form. The costumes used during a Chhau performance will blow your mind with its vibrancy and splendour.
Sambhalpur is situated in the Western region of Odisha. This dance form is performed during the celebration of Lok Mahotsav. The grace and uniformity of this dance form will leave you enchanted.
This dance form originated in Kumaon Region and is still popular in districts of Pithoragarh, Champawat, Bageshwar and Almora. Started as a performance only during marriage processions it now graces many auspicious and important celebratory functions. It is essentially a sword dance. It is believed to add auspiciousness to the marriage and to cast away evil spirits.
Kalbelia is a tribal group in Rajasthan that trade snake venom and catch snakes for a living. Hence Kalbelia dance is inspired by the movements made by a snake which makes the dance steps extremely intricate.
This is a Sanskrit theatre dance form from Kerala being performed since Dravidian era. Traditionally performed inside temple theatres called Koothambalams and relies heavily on expressions specifically facial ones including eyes, cheeks, lips and brow. It is even recognised by UNESCO as endangered forms and needs to be preserved. It’s thus an irony that the majority of Indians are unaware about it.
9. Gaur Maria
Gaur stands for Bison and the dance is full of mystical formations that women make while holding long sticks in their hands. The dance traces its origins in Madhya Pradesh region and the steps and movements involve men and women swaying to the sounds of drums and horns that keep increasing in tempo thus giving it a wild , fast paced dance form.
As Indians make huge strides in areas of Innovation, Technology, Business we hope that Performing Arts as a profession will also get its due. We need to be conscious of the rich heritage and culture that we have inherited through the ages in the form of our dances. Agreed that with time newer forms, popular forms will gather more eyeballs – be it in the Dance Reality shows, the contests or even the centres that teach the staple form of western and popular Indian Classical dances, but we can do our bit to encourage and partner with those who still hold on to the legacy and are trying to nurture the art forms being passed on from generations. Highlighting them through articles is just a small step towards making the public at large aware of these lesser known dance forms of India lest we forget about them totally. As we at Localturnon https://www.localturnon.com say “Turn On Dance || Turn on Happiness || Turn on Life!”
Acknowledgement: Inputs by Poornima Venugopalan (Ahmedabad)