The folk and exotic dances of India

India has a great variety of dances, some of them millenary and others modern. In all the clothes that are used and the movements that are carried out stand out.

Contrary to what some people think, representative dances from India are not the same as Arab dances. Although they have certain elements in common, their characteristics are different. In this article, we talk about the most important:

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.


Classical dances are a set of dances from India that have centuries of history and, therefore, have become a symbol of their culture. They are the following:


This dance was developed in the state of Odisha, in the east of the country, and has more than 2,000 years antiquity Although it was banned during the English occupation, it was rescued thanks to manuscripts and sculptures.

Its objective is to describe emotions through the body and the poetry that is recited. In it, the body is divided into three parts: the head, chest and pelvis. This partition is called tribhangi. Throughout its development, we can talk about three different schools:

The girls learned it in the temples, so it was considered sacred.
It is the one practiced in the royal palaces.
Men dressed as women began to dance from the 6th century.


The concept bharatanatyam It consists of different words:

  • Bah: from bhavam. It means expression.
  • Ra: comes from the word ragam. It translates as music.
  • Ta: from talam. Is rhythm.
  • Natyam: it means dance.

Its origin is in Tamil Nandu, south of India. It is a reconstruction of a sacred dance that was practiced in temples. It highlights the expression with the face and hands, with which mudras are made.

Mudras are gestures that are made by hand and that are sacred to Buddhists and Hindus.

It is interpreted individually and must be learned from an early age. This dance is intended to tell stories. It is a dance associated with fire and has a female part (lasya), and a masculine (ananda thandavam).


Dance Kathakali It comes from Kerala, in the south of the country. What stands out about her is that she is theatricalized. In addition, the dancers wear a stunning wardrobe and make up their face.

The characters that usually appear in this dance are the heroes, called satvika; the heroic deities, pacha; and the kathi, the anti heroes. In this video we can see how amazing it is:


He Kathak It originated in the north of the country. In it, the interpreters also claim to tell a story. The pace starts slowly and gradually accelerates.

This dance has influences from sacred dances, from the Hindu movement called bhakti and of Persian and Asian dances. There are two styles: the pure or nritta and the expressive or nritya.


This dance took place in the Andhra Pradesh region, in southern India, around the 1st century B.C. It has elements in common with the bharatanatyam, but it has unique features.

Sacred stories are also told with him, mudras are made with his hands and the expression of the face is used. In the past, only the dancers mens, but today women do too.


In Kerala we find the mohiniyattam, word that means lovely dance. In it, hip movements attract attention. In his choreography there are both smooth movements and jumps.

He sari or dress that is usually used is white with some golden details. There are two types, pure dance and exhibition dance. Only women practice it.


The manipuri comes from Manipur, in northeastern India, next to the border with Myanmar. Unlike in other dances, in this one the feet rest gently on the ground.


This exotic dance is characteristic of the state of Assam. It used to be a dance of monks, but later women and people who did not belong to the monasteries or sattras They started to dance it.


Bollywood It is the film industry that we find in India, specifically in Mumbai. Hence his name, which is a fusion between Bombay and Hollywood. In the films produced here, choreographies abound in pairs or in groups.

These dances are a set of movements of classical dances, Hindu folklore and modern dances. Therefore, today they are quite known Worldwide.

New songs become famous every year. One of the most outstanding so far has been the song Jai Ho, by musician A. R. Rahman. This one appears in the movie Slumdog Millionaire and won the Oscar for the best original song in 2008. We can see his dance in the following video:

Other dances

In addition to the classical and modern dances, we find some characteristic dances from certain areas of India that have endured over time:


He bhangra, what does it mean flooded with joy, belongs to the Punjab region, in the north of the territory. In its origin, it was practiced by the farmers to celebrate the beginning of spring and the harvest season.

With it a kind of communication between heaven and earth is interpreted, which are the arms and legs. It has an intense rhythm and highlights the blows with the feet. Since the 1970s it has become quite popular worldwide.


Dance Kalbelia comes from the nomadic tribes gypsies of Rajasthan in northern India. These villages are characterized by snake training and, therefore, are known as snake charmers.

The dance they have developed mimics cobras movements. It is interpreted during the holidays. The dancers wear bells on their feet, with which they set the pace.

This article has been shared 162 times.

Finally, we have selected the previous and next article of the block "Prepare the trip"so you can continue reading:

Leave a Reply