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The Classical Dances of India


The art of classical Indian dance, as it has been preserved for more than 2000 years, is considered one of the oldest forms of dance and its influence was decisive, in the dances throughout Asia and around the world.


Characteristic of classical Indian dance, is the separation of the performance into items of pure dance and items of expression-narration. In pure dance (Nrita), are executed choreographies and rhythmic compositions without symbolism, through which is expressed the grace and rhythmic delight. In narration (Abhinaya), the dancer tells stories, using stylized, coded gestures, poses and emotions.


The dancers in ancient India, narrated myths and epics on the lives of the gods and heroes of the distant past. These characters, were an inspiring example for the spectators, as their actions, were in harmony with the dharma, the cosmic law. This art was an offering to God, while the practice and presentation of Indian dances, was considered as another form of yoga, Natya Yoga, namely the yoga of dance.


In classical dance, exist as an intrinsic part, the arts, philosophy, aesthetics and elements of daily life in India. Thus, the acquaintance with Indian dance is an empirical acquaintance with the fundamental elements of Indian culture, such as spirituality being integrated in everyday life.


This contact with the art of a different culture, opens us to the diversity itself. To the acceptance, appreciation and respect of another perception of life, with its different conditions, habits and mentality.


Kathak Dance


Nowadays, there are 8 kinds of classical Indian dances, namely Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Kathakali, Manipuri, Sattriya and Kathak. Christina, after years of studying and living in Varanasi, in northern India, teaches the north Indian dance Kathak.


This dance, in its current form, was the outcome of the osmosis of Hindu and Muslim culture. Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word Katha, which means story, and begins about 3000 years ago in ancient India, when Kathakas, similar to the ancient Greek rapsodes, narrated to the people the sacred epics and scriptures. Kathak, like all south Indian dances, use to be danced with the knees bent, in a position, known in ballet as, demiplie.


After the 13th century, due to the conquest of northern India by the Muslim tribes, the technique and the aesthetics of Kathak, were highly influenced by the Persian dance. The dancers, started to dance upright. This change of the basic posture, allowed them to perform complex rhythmical compositions hitting their feet on the ground as well as a variety of spins which remind of the whirling Soufis.


The movements of the hands, eyes and head, are characterized by a natural, graceful flow and contain less stylization than with the dances of South India. Kathak, is part of the Hindustani north Indian. musical system.