Thursday, May 24, 2007

Elements of Classical Dance

There are some common elements in various dance forms of India, no matter from which region they originate.
Abhinaya is common to all classical dance. It is the expression in dance or nritya. It is the art of telling a story through hastas or gestures, movement and facial expressions. In contrast, nritta signifies pure expressional meaning and sympolism. It is a movement that has beauty but does not tell a story. Abhinaya has been categorised in the Natya Shastra into four types:

* Angika or physical where every part of the body is used to convey a meaning with hasta mudras (hand gestures),mandis (postures) and even the walk of the dancer.

* Vachikabhinaya is the vocal/verbal aspect as used today by members of the orchestra or the supporting non-dancing cast.

* Aharyabhinaya or external expression, mood and background as conveyed by costume, make-up, accessories and sets.

* Satvikabhinaya or psychological expression as shown by the eyes in particular and as a whole by the entire being of the performer, who feels the mood, the character and the emotion as emanating from the self, not as an act or practical presentation.

All dance forms revolve around the nine rasas or emotion: shringar (love), hasya (happiness), krodha (anger), bhibasta (disdain or revulsion), bhaya (fear), veerata (courage), karuna (compassion), adbhuta (wonder) and shanta (serenity). The dance forms follow the same hand gestures, or hasta mudras, for each of these rasas.

Abhinaya is one of the specialised aspects of dance and is considered the soul of the performances. The great queen of abhinaya is the late Balasaraswati, whose no two performance in Bharatanatyam were ever the same.

The genesis of contemporary styles of classical dance can be traced to the period between AD 1300-1400.Indian offers a number of classical dance forms where each form embodies the influences of the region from which it originates. The links given below provide information about Indian dances as still practiced in India.


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