Odissi, Kathak and Manipuri Dance Forms

The following article shares some knowledge about various traditional dance forms of India.

The vibrancy of Orissa, the philosophy of Lord Jagannath and the sculpture of the 13th Century Sun Temple of Konarak, are reflected in its dance form- Odissi. Perhaps the most lyrical style of dance in India, Odissi follows unique body norms; the resemblance of a whole culture is echoed in its dance patterns. The 'tribhanga,' a three-bend posture, inter-linking a person's philosophy with the physical self, is a series of triangles which are not only physically difficult to execute, but which also call for immense restraint, practice and finesse on the part of the artist. The numerous postures of the style reflect specific moods and showcase the carved panels of the Konarak Sun Temple.

Jayadeva's unique Sanskrit love poem, Geet Govind, is an embodiment of sublime devotion to Lord Krishna and its verses are interpreted by every person related to Orissa's culture, whether he be a singer, dancer or devotee.

Waves of influence and confluence of various cultures have traversed India's northern plains, giving Kathak its Hindu-Muslim texture, and its exciting and entertaining attribute. The Kathak or storyteller of yore was a versatile actor-musician-dancer who addressed himself directly to his audience, throwing a web of verse and verve over them. Complicated footwork makes the dance form pleasing to watch. Rapid pirouettes are the dominant, breath-taking and most endearing features of this style. Long string of small bells are tied around the ankles of the dancer which emit pleasing sounds when the dancer dances. The whole gamut of rhythmic patterns are woven into a chosen time cycle which makes it all the more enthralling. Balance, poise and control are strong requisites for exacting this form of art. Traditionally the nautch dance of the courts, Kathak reflects a simplicity and vigour that looks more attractive when seen.

Manipuri Manipuri
Protected and conserved for centuries in the beautiful and verdant valleys of North-East India, Manipuri dance is the art expression of every man, woman and child of Manipur. The musical forms of that culture reflect the various ways of worshipping the Hindu God, Vishnu. The dance form revolves around episodes from His life in which the faith of Manipuri people is based. The sankirtan and the raas are revered musical traditions enacted appropriately at different times of the year by the community as a whole.

Manipuri is not aggressive and showy. It is tender and almost reticent on the one hand and extremely vigorous on the other. A continuity of movement and without much show of power and strength are important features of this style of cultural dance.


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