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Indian Classical Dances – 8 Classical Dances of India [UPSC Art & Culture Notes] l www.insightdaily.in


Bharat Muni’s book Natya Shastra is the first famous source to mention dance. India has various forms of dances including classical dances and folk dances. Knowing about Indian Classical Dances is important for the IAS Exam, as it holds importance for the Art & Culture syllabus of GS-I.

This article will briefly provide you with relevant facts about classical dance from the UPSC Exam perspective.

What are the 8 Classical Dances of India?

The table below mentions the eight classical dances of India:

What are the aspects of Classical Dance?

The facts about related to the aspects of Classical Dance are mentioned in the table below:

Indian Classical Dances 
What are the two basic aspects of Classical Dance? There are two basic aspects of Natya Shastra:

What is Lasya? It denotes grace, bhava, rasa and abhinaya. It is symbolic to the feminine features of dance as an art form
What is Tandava? This is symbolic to the male aspects of dance and has more emphasis on rhythm and movement
What are the three basic elements of a classical dance act? There are three basic elements:

  • Nritta – These are the basic dance steps and are performed rhythmically but devoid of any expression or mood
  • Natya – It means dramatic representations and refers to the story that is elaborated through the dance recital
  • Nritya – refers to the sentiment and the emotions evoked through dance. It includes the mime and the different methods of expression including mudras in the dance
What is Guru-Shishya Paramapara? It forms the core of the Indian Classical Dance forms. The basic meaning is that each dance form is related to a Guru (Teacher) and he/she transfers that knowledge of dance to a Shishya (Student.)

9 Rasa of Classical Dance

There nine rasas of the classical dances are:

Classical Dance – 9 Rasas  
Rasas Attributes
Shringaara Love
Roudra Anger
Bibhatsa Disgust
Veera Heroism
Shaant Peace and Tranquility
Hasya Laughter and Comedy
Karuna Tragedy
Bhayanak Horror
Adbhuta Wonder

Indian Classical Dance – Chhau

Sangeet Natak Academy (India’s National Academy) recognizes only eight classical dances of India, however, the Ministry of Culture also considers Chhau Dance as a classical dance of India, making the total number of classical dances in India as nine.

A few important points on Chhau Dance are as mentioned:

  1. The word ‘Chaya’ gives meaning to Chhau Dance. Chaya means shadow.
  2. As a mask dance, Chhau dance is denoted.
  3. Energetic martial art movements are basic feature of Chhau Dance
  4. Serpent Dance, Peacock Dance are a few narrations used in Chhau Dance
  5. There are three kinds of Chhau Dance:
    • Saraikella – This Chhau Dance is famous in Jharkhand
    • Mayurbhanj – This Chhau Dance is famous in Odisha
    • Purulia – This Chhau Dance is famous in West Bengal
  6. Mayurbhanj Chhau Dance does not use masks.
  7. Chhau Dance was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Indian Classical Dances – UPSC Notes:-Download PDF Here

Candidates preparing for UPSC 2022 can also read a few other important Art & Culture related topics from the links given in the table below:

Frequently Asked Questions on Indian Classical Dance Forms


Q 1. Bharatnatyam is an Indian Classical dance form of which state?

Ans. Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu in southern India has grown out of the art of dancers dedicated to temples, and was earlier known as Sadir or Dasi Attam.


Q 2. Which is the principal classical dance form of northern India?

Ans. Kathak is the principal dance of northern India, and is widely practised in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh.

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