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India can boast of an innumerable number of folk dances, each dance forming a specialty of a particular region or tribe. Each form will have its own specialty & grace, along with a set pattern of costumes & make-up.

The classical dance forms which have developed, have set rules that have been followed traditionally over the years. On the basic model, various gurus incorporate their own imaginative innovations, leading to various schools within a particular dance form. Apart from the gracious hand & leg postures & movements, the dancers have to acquire the skill of portraying various emotions faithfully in each expression on their face & each fluid movement of their hand, legs & in fact their whole body. Every part conveys some meaning in their graceful motion.

The various dance forms have also developed a particular form of make-up for the performance, which is a skill by itself. Several dance schools today, incorporate costume designing & make-up as special section of the curriculum. The costumes for all forms are elaborate & rich, but each form & style have their own traditional patterns set down. Jewels for the dancers are also specially created to suit their purpose. Flowers adorn their hair & in the case of portrayal of Gods, their necks as garlands. The hall is also richly decorated with flowers. Application of mehendi in various styles is also an essential part of the make-up in most forms.

Various dance forms of India


Dec 2006
Compositions of K.N.Dandayudapani Pillai

Jan 2007
Compositions of Ghanam Krishna Iyer

Gestures used in Bharatanatyam

Names of Head, Neck, Eyes & Hand Gestures used in Bharatanatyam

Dance Festivals

"A Dancer on Dance" by V.P.Dhananjayan

About the Dhananjayans

Natya The Essence of Hyndhava - Dharma

Salient Features of Dance


Elaboration of the Rasas

The Concept of the Male Dancer

Kathakali - Origin & background

Classical technique in Kathakali

Costume & Make-up in Kathakali

Jan 2012 - last update Jul 2012
Excerpts of Articles by VP Dhananjayan from his book "beyond Performing: Art and Culture" Published by B.R.Rhythms, Delhi
The book contains articles on art, culture, social issues, politics, lectures, profiles and letters to editors and administrative heads.
Foreword by Cho Ramaswamy & illustrations by Cartoonist Sarathy

Book ‘Shishu Sadhana - a child friendly Bharata Natya repertoire’ with a DVD
by Mamata Niyogi-Nakra, released at Centre St-Pierre, Montreal, on 16th January 2005