Ages ago, much before man started to speak or draw pictures, communication transpired through actions and sounds. When hunting was the only occupation man had i.e. even before farming was discovered, these ancestors of ours apparently danced for reasons unknown; to entertain or express themselves. As time progressed and as man became more aware of the birds & the bees and the world around him, and as he started to worship Nature, he must have danced to please all the living & non-living objects like the mountains, trees, serpents etc. whom he worshipped as gods. Perhaps this must have been the origin of what came to be called as tribal dance. This could have possibly been adopted or adapted to form the temple dance after the first temples were built in South India.
|Worshipping trees and snakes|
Incidentally, all the art forms seen in Kerala at present were apparently previously found in the Chera Chola Pandya Thondai mandalams (administrative divisions) of the old Tamizhakam district i.e. the region encompassing present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu (two South Indian states). Currently, due to geographical & language differences, the classical dance styles varies.
Being Indian, I might sound a bit partial here. I strongly feel that the dance forms of my country are very different from the various dance forms from around the world. It could be due to the solid combination of multiple expressions and graceful movements, the accompanying music and even due to the vivid way of story-telling, which brings alive all the mythological stories our grandmothers used to narrate to us during our childhood.
Like I mentioned before, Natyashastra is the foundation of all the Indian classical dance forms, but just like the water that flows from the top of a mountain and branches out into different rivers; similarly, Indian Classical Dance is divided into 9 dance forms according to language, geography and costumes. They are:
- Mohiniyattam (Kerala)
- Kathakali (Kerala)
- Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu)
- Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh)
- Odissi (Orissa)
- Kathak (North India)
- Manipuri (Manipur)
- Sattriya (Assam)
- Gaudiya Nritya (Bengal) . This is the latest addition according to the Sangeet Natak Akademi
|From Top Left in clockwise order : Manipuri, Kathak, Sattriya (Dr. Indira Bora), Kuchipudi (Dr.Raja & Radha Reddy),|
Mohiniyattam, Odissi, Kathakali, Bharatanatyam, Gaudiya Nritya (Dr. Mahua Mukherjee)
- The book (in Malayalam) 'Mohiniyattom-Charitravum Aataprakaravum' by the Mohiniyattam maestro (Late) Smt. Kalamandalam Kalyanikuttiyamma ( my Guru's Guru)