Contrary to many Indian dances, the Kathak dancer is not bound to adhere to fixed steps. He or she can change the sequence to according to his or her style of dancing.
Together with today's dawning of the Mughal culture, Kathak has now become a refined and sophisticated art, gracing even elite audiences with exquisite mastery over rhythm and sensationally stylized mime.
Many of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Hindu epics, myths and legends are kept alive by the present story themes of this highly extravagant dance drama.
It is a combination of pure dance or “nritya,” and mime or “abhinaya,” and although it was originally preserved and performed by men, the Kathakali is now also embraced by women. Overtime also, the themes have evolved with the changing times, making room for new themes, one of which is Shakespeare's “King Lear.”
The most startling aspect of this dance is that they represent qualities in characters that require an incredible amount of emphasis on its costumes, ornaments and make-up.
It's also very unique because it's the only one whose portrayals of emotion demand the strenuous use of both the skeletal and muscular parts of the body and even the smallest facial muscles.
Belonging to the small state of Manipur in northeastern India, the Manipuri dance is different mainly because its nature is devotional and its aim, spiritual.
Although dance is always considered an enjoyable activity, a medium of worship, and an encounter with the divine all throughout India, the Manipuri people believe dance to be essential for all socio-cultural ceremonies.
Today, the Manipuri Dance is the passionate aesthetic obsession for artists and onlookers alike because of its colorful adornments, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of abhinaya, lilting music and poetic charm.
Kuchipudi derived its name from the village of Kuchelapuram in Andhra Pradesh of India. Through dance drama and music, it brilliantly portrays scenes from Hindu epics and mythological tales. Kuchipudi embodies a superb combination of fast rhythms and fluid movements, creating a unique blend of control and abandonment, power and frailty.
What distinguishes the Kuchipudi from the Bharata Natyam's style of pure dance and mime is its abundant use of speech where the Bharata Natyam has none. Being originally a male tradition, men were forced to portray the roles of women as they traveled performing from village to village. Women had only been introduced to Kuchipudi in the last century and have since then graced the art form with a new definition and direction thanks also to Siddhendra Yogi.
The tradition of the Mohiniyattam traces back to the Devadasi dance which was once prevalent in the temples of Kerala in the 16th-17th century. This was the period considered to be the golden era of arts and literature in Kerala.
The dancer, 'Mohini', is an ideal maiden who stirs up desire and induces passion in order to win the heart of the audience. The dance is basically comprised of a solo female dancer in a single costume. The Mohini, soaked in feminine grace, rhythmically sways her body from side to side in a smooth and unbroken flow--focusing essentially on her feminine moods and emotions.
Odissi is the rich and generous cultural endowment of the state of Orissa in India. Origianally, it was performed during religious rites and offerings by the “Maharis” in the temples of Orissa. Known in the past as 'Kalinga Desha,' it is highly stimulated, impassioned, ecstatic, sensuous, and is well known for its devotion to religion and arts.
Odissi, one of India's most scintillating dance-forms, was born, fostered and nourished in glorious temples that the Orissa people built as an act of religious faith.
These same temples, embellished and adorned by skillful master craftsmen, sculptures and architects, grew into the hub for Orissa's arts and culture. Odissi conveys its people's harmony in the form of Odissi's delightful and intense passion, lyrical accuracy, divinity and purity.