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Top 5 classical dance forms in India

India being a land of many wonders, it comes as no surprise that the country is home to a rich variety of classical dance forms. While each one has its own history, style, and technique, all the forms are undoubtedly divine, unique, and mesmerising. In this article, we will take a look at five of the most popular classical dance forms in India.

1. Kathak

Kathak is a North Indian classical dance form that dates back to the 16th century. Performed by a solo dancer, Kathak is known for its intricate footwork, intense facial expressions, and stylized fluid body movements.

The word “Kathak” comes from the Sanskrit word “katha”, which means “story”. The dance form is believed to have originated in the Vedic temples of ancient India during the Bhakti movement when travelling bards conveyed devotional stories through dance.

2. Bharatanatyam

Known for its rich history, Bharatanatyam is yet another popular Indian classical dance form that originated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The dance is usually performed to Carnatic music and is known for its graceful movements and rhythmic patterns.

Bharatanatyam, seen as the perfect fusion of mind, body, and soul is said to have been created by sage Bharata Muni, who wrote the Natya Shastra, a treatise on the performing arts.

3. Kathakali

This highly stylized form of Indian classical dance originated in the southern state of Kerala and is known for its colourful costumes, intricate facial expressions, and elaborate make-up. Kathakali is usually performed to classical Carnatic music, and the dances are based on Hindu epics and religious texts.

The origins of Kathakali are unclear, but the dance form is thought to have developed in the 17th century.

4. Kuchipudi

Intricate, fast-paced footwork and grace characterize this dance form that originated in a town by the same name located in Andhra Pradesh.

Kuchipudi is believed to have been created by the saint-poet- composer Siddhendra Yogi in the 16th century who hails from Kuchipudi. Siddhendra was inspired by the Bharatanatyam dance form. Over the centuries, Kuchipudi has evolved and changed, but it still retains its original grace and beauty.


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5. Odissi

One of the most graceful dance forms in India is Odissi, which originated in the state of Odisha. Regarded as the dance of love, spirituality, and devotion, Odissi is one of the oldest dance forms in India. Believed to have originated in the temples of Odisha, this dance was traditionally performed by temple dancers.

As a complex dance form, Odissi combines the elements of both the nritya and natya styles of Indian classical dance. The dance is accompanied by music, and the movements are very precise and fluid.

You can see these dance forms during your luxury tour of India in various cities of India. You can see Kathak dance in Varanasi/ Jaipur, Bharatnatyam can be best seen in Chennai, Kathakali can be seen in Kochi/ Munnar or Trivandrum, Kuchipudi in Hyderabad and Odissi in Bhubaneshwar.

Jay Kajaria is Founder of Bespoke India Holidays. Bespoke India Holidays is an award-winning company that specialises in creating luxury trips to India and the subcontinent.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Jay Kajaria

Jay Kajaria is the Director of Erudite Travel Consultants LLP – the company that owns Bespoke India Holidays. The company specializes in offering high quality bespoke tours, offbeat experiences to guests traveling to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Dubai and Southeast Asia region. The company has received National Tourism Award and has been nominated as a leading Luxury tour operator in Asia by World Travel Awards for year 2020, 2021 and 2022. Erudite Travel Consultants LLP is a responsible travel company focusing on community tourism, animal friendly tours, reducing carbon footprint and engaging in CSR initiatives.

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  1. It’s amazing how much more open-minded we are when we travel! I’d probably never book for a dance performance at home. Take me to India and I’m up for every cultural experience going.

  2. The photos that go with this post are fantastic. They really give a sense of the balance and delicate movements. Indian dance always seems to involve the fingertips as much as the toes.

  3. It is really amazing blog on dance. India is a country full of diverse arts. Every state in India has different art, culture and traditions. We see diversity in dance, song, dress, language, lifestyle in each state.

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