India - Features of Indian Classical Dance

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Features of Indian Classical Dance

Indian classical dance breaks a new ground of perception and opens entirely a new vision of reality. It has various postures, the mudras or the hand movements depicting particular meaning. All dance forms are thus structured around the nine rasas or emotions.

These primary emotions are also referred as the Sthayibhavas. They are as follows.

• Shringara - Love
• Hasya - Mirth
• Veera - Heroism
• Roudra - Anger
• Bhayanaka - Terror
• Bheebatsa - Disgust
• Adbhuta - Wonder
• Karuna - Compassion
• Shanta - Tranquility

The Vatsalya or the parental fondling rasa is also sometimes included as one of the stayibhava. The Vibhava or the cause of emotion, the Anubhava or the effect of emotion and the Sanchari bhava or the subordinate emotions constitute the state of rasa.

Indian classical dance is divided into nritta- the rhythmic elements, nritya- the combination of rhythm and expression, natya- the dramatic element.

The techniques of communicating a message are Abinaya. While gestures can be seen from any distance even in a large dance hall, the subtle facial expressions can only be seen from the front rows.

The Abinaya is comprised of

• Angikabhinaya
• Vachikabhinaya
• Aharyabhinaya
• Satvikabhinaya

The Angikabhinaya involves communicating the meaning of the songs using the body, i.e. head, hands, legs, etc. The Bhedas also come under Angikabhinaya.

The Vachikabhinaya communicates the story using narrations.

The Aharyabhinaya has the use of costumes, jewellary, make-up etc.

The Satvikabhinaya shows the expressions of Bhava(moods).



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