Indian classical dance is known throughout the globe. India historically is also known as Bharatvarsha. Bharat is known as headquarter for the appearance of various avatars of Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma born from lotus flower emerging from Lord Vishnu’s navel, was appointed as the creator of Srishti. Lord Brahma is believed to conceive dance from four Veda’s and then, he instructed sage Bharat Muni to write Natyashastra.

Natyashastra is a handbook consisting of agreements on performing arts and this led to the trend of dance and drama. The text got compiled somewhere in 200 BCE but historians also have a second opinion that compilation was between 800 BCE and 500 BCE. It consists of 36 lessons with around 6000 poetic verses describing performance arts. 

A wide range of topics has been covered in the text. The texts consist of dramatic composition, steps to designing plays and the stage erecting techniques and various methods to host. It also consists of different genres of acting, bodily actions and styles, bodily decoration and different outfits, role and objectivity of an art director. It also provides knowledge of everything related to music, singing, musical instruments and ways to incorporate music with dancing and acting.

Even though every Indian classical dance form developed in different regions, their roots are the same. The origin can be drawn from the aforementioned Sanskrit text ‘Natya Shastra’. India is known for its spirituality and rich cultural heritage.  Indian classical dance also known as “kshatriya Devesh” in Sanskrit is a storehouse for various arts which originated in Hindu religious musical theatre styles.

Indian temples are the birthplace for all the classical dances. Worshipping God was the main aim. All classical dances are designed and performed in praise of God. Name a classical dance and you will find it is in glorification of God. Seven popular Indian classical dances are – Bharata Natyam it originated in Tamil Nadu, kathak originated in UP, Kathakali  & Mohiniyattam originated in Kerala, Kuchipudi originated in Andhra Pradesh, Manipuri originated in Manipur, and Odissi originated in Odisha. 

A brief introduction to these classical dances is as follows:

Bharat Natyam was once upon a time performed by devadasis in temples of South. Kathak is traditionally a dance performed in storytelling patterns in northern parts of India. Kathakali also comes in the storytelling genre also, it is especially known for heavy costumes, facemask and makeup whereas Mohiniyattam is dance depicting the famous Mohini murti avatar of Vishnu to despise the demons. Kuchipudi was originally performed by a male priest and it has steps like offering lamps, incense and flowers to deities. Later it got adopted by females as well. Manipuri dance depicts Sri Radha krishna "Ras lila" dance. While Odissi dance is designed to glorify lord Jagganath in Puri.

Other than an expression of worship, Indian classical dance has much more to become popular throughout the world. It is a distinctive but very special kind of art.  Today people dance to reflect their feelings, thoughts, expressions and much more. Many believe it to be kind of yoga because it involves innumerable mudras and physical action which keeps the body tuned to nature. It is also an excellent exercise and connects one with eternity and peace. Gradually, the dance has become an integral part of almost all ceremonies that begins from birth to death.
Indeed! Indian classical dance is the pride of the entire nation.