International Dance Day, established in 1982 by The Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) to highlight the incredible diversity and talent of dancers all over the globe, is a reminder of how movement assists the flow of our mood.
Multiple studies have shown the incredible benefits of dancing to help fight off or prevent us from slipping further into mental illnesses like depression.
Dancing’s physical movement is also a good form of exercise with people taking up forms such as Zumba.
India is a land of rich and varied cultures.
Be it our food, our literature and arts, or our language….
We all know of the eight beautiful classical dances of our richly diverse country - Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Gaudiya Nritya, Sattriya, Manipuri, and Mohiniyattam.
Today we’ll be looking at the great folk dances of India.
Performed on occasions such as Harvest festivals, Season changes, Weddings, Childbirth and Religious events, these dances have simple routine steps accompanied by musical instruments local to that state with lyrics that tell a story.
Here are 10 popular folk dances…
Yakshagana – Karnataka
A traditional theatre that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form.
Chhau Dance – Odisha
An ancient folk dance that was initiated during the pretend fights of Odia warriors who fought to the beats of native musical instruments.
Lavani – Maharashtra
An energetic mix of music and dance, the quick beats coupled with dynamic dance moves, makes this dance exceptionally high tempo.
Garba – Gujarat
This dance form is performed before the aarti, while Dandiya is performed after the aarti; this dance form is known for its circular formations.
Ghoomar – Rajasthan
Performed originally by the Bhil tribe to worship Goddess Sarasvati, the dance is performed by veiled women who wear flowing ghagharas.
Raas Leela – Uttar Pradesh
Enactment of the mythological stories describing the life stories of Lord Krishna, exploring the divine love of Radha and Krishna and of the Gopikas for Krishna.
Bhangra – Punjab
This lively and energetic folk dance of Punjab involves dance steps along with the beats of a dhol or drum, accompanied by bright and colourful dresses.
Rouf – Jammu and Kashmir
This traditional and rhythmic folk dance is cheerful and straightforward. It is primarily performed to celebrate the harvesting season of spring and during Eid.
Bihu – Assam
Performed during the Rongali Bihu festival, this elegant dance form marks the start of the spring season. This sleek dance is accompanied by colourful, embroidered gamocha and dhotis, while women wear the traditional Mekhela and Chador.
10. Pung Cholom Dance – Manipur
A dance form is a combination of movements and sounds involving acrobatic skills and stamina. Dancers play the musical instrument called Mridanga while displaying their performance.
These are just 10…with 28 states each having more than three folk dances; our country has more than 100 folk dances! How amazing is that?
The diversity and skill of the dancers of our nation are genuinely displayed in these folk dances!