Detailed list about various types of dance forms present in Tamilnadu

This resource is about the most popular dance forms of Tamilnadu. In this resource you will get the details about the famous dances which were prevalent from ancient times and also many interesting facts about Tamilnadu and its culture. read the article below for more interesting facts about Tamilnadu.

Dance forms of Tamilnadu

Tamilnadu is famous for its heritage and culture. Many famous art and entertainment had originated from Tamilnadu. There were many famous entertainers who had graced the Tamil arts and had entertained people to the core. The three important entertainments that is more prevalent and popular in Tamilnadu are classified into three forms which are as follows:

1. Iyal (Literature)
2. Isai (Music)
3. Nadagam (Drama)

These were the important entertainments in ancient Tamilnadu. Slowly the entertainments developed and dances with the classical forms became the most popular entertainment for the people. This article is about the dances which are popular in the state of Tamil Nadu. The majority of the dances are still prevalent in our state which still portrays the ancient history to our younger generation.

Bharata Natyam

bharatanatyamThe classical Bharata Natyam is one of the ancient dance form that is found to have originated from Tamil Nadu. This Bharata Natyam is considered as a dance which is performed with devotion in the temples. Bharata Natyam is considered to be performed by devadasis in the temples. History also repeats this information in various history books. It is one of the beautiful dance form which is still most popular amoung young people. Many dancers have been performing this dance for decades and it is considered to have been infused in blood by succesive generations. Bhara Natyam is basically a combination of two elements,

• Nritta: pure dance
• Nritya: expressive dance

Bharata Natyam is loved by all and this dance also evokes interest among men to perform before the audience. Their interest still keeps this dance form going without being slowly vanished due to the course of time.


karagattamKaragam as it is popularly called is also considered to be one of the ancient folk dances. This is performed by keeping a pot on the head and performing dance movements without disturbing the pot. This requires lots of concentration and skill and cannot be easily performed by all. Traditionally, Karagam was supposed to have been performed to praise goddesses Parvathi and Gangai Amman praying to be blessed with rain. This dance is classified into two divisions as follows:

1. Aatta Karagam - This form of karagam is performed with decorated pots on the head of the person performing the dance. This is performed only in temples.

2. Sakthi Karagam – This form of karagam is performed for joy and enjoyment. This popular rural dance was performed accompanying Naiyandi Melam but now it includes films songs also.

Most karagam artistes belong to Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Pattukottai and Salem. This dance is performed by both male and female as an individual or in groups.


kummiKummi is one of the ancient forms of dances that is performed in Tamilnadu villages. It originated in ancient period when musical instruments were not there. The participants clapped their hands for music. This is performed in temples only by women. There are many varieties of Kummi, which are as follows:

• Poonthatti Kummi
• Deepa Kummi
• Kulavai Kummi
• Kadir Kummi
• Mulaipari Kummi

The list is very big and I have given only the important ones. This dance is performed in other functions and festivals of Tamilnadu such as the Pongal festival, family functions like onset of puberty of the girl-child, etc.

Mayil Attam

mayilAs the name suggests this Peacock dance is done by girls who dress themselves as peacocks with peacock feathers and a head-dress with a beak to look like a peacock. The beak is such that it can be opened and closed with the help of a thread.
Other dances of this kind are as follows:

• Kaalai Attam (dressed as a bull)
• Karadi Attam (dressed as a bear)
• Aali Aattam (dressed as a demon)
• Vedala Aattam (performed wearing masks of demon)

These dances are performed by villagers on any special ocassions.


kolattamKolaattam is one among the ancient village dance performed with sticks held in both the hands. This is also called as 'Cheivaikiyar Kolattam' and is performed by women. The sticks are beaten to give a rhythmic noise.

Pinnal Kolaattam is a variation of kolaatam and is danced with ropes, one side of the rope is held in one hand and the other end tied to a tall pole. The women skip over each other of the rope and the colorful ropes attract the crowd. Kolaattam is performed for ten days, starting from Amavasi or Newmoon night, which comes after Deepavali.

Kavadi Aattam

kavadiThis is an ancient dance which is performed to Lord Muruga. This dance is mainly performed during the tamil festival Thaipusum. It is considered as an important festival and is performed during important tamil festivals. The dance is performed with long sticks and is done only by men. The stick bends on both sides and they carry 2 pots filled with milk, rice or coconut water. The Kavadi is beautifully decorated with peacock feathers and it weighs about 30 kgs. They carry the weight balancing in their shoulders.

To know more about Kavadi Attam check the below link:
Kavadi in Tamilnadu>

Poikkal Kudirai Aattam

poikalPoikkal Kudirai Aattam is a dance performed with a dummy horse with a gap inside so that a person can fit into it and perform the dance. The dummy horse is supposed to have been made with materials which are light and can be easily carried around the hip while dancing. The dancers tie wooden legs to their feet so that sound is envoked when they are tapped on the floor. This along with the movements given by the dancer will complete the Poikkal Kudirai dance. This dance is performed along with Naiyandi melam and is devoted to the god Ayyanar.


silambattamSilambam is nothing but fighting with a long wooden stick. This form of fighting dance is practiced as a self defence and is one of the skillful methods of approaching the enemy. This is a violent fighting art which has changed into a non-violent form of folk dance in modern world. The other weapons used in silambam are deer horn, knife, sword, and dagger. Silambam is considered to have originated about 5000 years ago as per the ancient historical records and is one of the oldest forms of self defence ever used.

Bommalattam or Puppet Show

bommalattamPuppet shows are performed in every village at the time of festivals and fairs. Many different kinds of puppets made of cloth, wood, leather, etc are used in these shows. The puppets are made to dance by manipulating through strings or wires. The persons who manage the puppet stand behind a screen and perform the show.

Theru Koothu

theru koothuTheru Koothu is still seen to be performed in villages during important festivals and occassions. This dance is performed during the tamil months Panguni and Aadi. This dance is performed in open air in the streets and so got the name of Theru Koothu. The make-up and costumes are given more importance and only men take part in this and they perform the female role also. The performance comprises the following:

• Story-telling
• Dialogue-rendering
• Songs
• Dance

Everything is performed by the artistes. The koothu is categorized as follows:

• Nattu Koothu
• Vali Koothu
• Kuravai Koothu
• Samaya Koothu
• Pei Koothu
• Thunangai Koothu
• Porkala Koothu.


oyilattamThe word Oyil in English means beauty. This dance is thus called as the dance of beauty. Traditionally, it is performed only by men. Nowadays it is also performed by women. Kongu Nadu is famous for this Oyilattam. Ankle-bells are worn by the dancers and the dance is performed in temples with musical instruments and songs. The styles and steps of Oyilattam differ from place to place.

Snake Dance

snake danceThis is another typical speciality dance of the southern region. This is usually danced by women who dance with dresses which resemble snake skin. They dance just like snakes by making the snake movements by moving their body accordingly. This just exactly resembles the snake moving on the floor. this kind of dance is difficult to perform as it involves flexible body movements. Nevertheless these are performed effortlesly by many women during importnat occassions.

Puli Attam

puliattamPuli Attam, as the name suggests is performed by young men who paint their bodies to look like tiger. They use colours like yellow and black and the dance movements make one to feel as if a tiger has come to the place. The drums are beaten aloud to make the dance feel realistic. This dance is regularly performed in temple festivals and attracts large crowds.


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