“You live as long as you dance,” Soviet ballet and contemporary dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev had famously said. And there are thousands of dance forms across the world that keeps people ‘alive’.
India’s diverse culture manifests in the dance forms found in its different corners. While there are many Indian classical and folk dances that are known across the world, many other amazing dance forms have remained unexplored. On the International Dance Day, celebrated on 29 April every year, on the birth anniversary of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), the creator of modern ballet, let’s take a look at some lesser-known dance forms in India.
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Ghode Modni (Goa): Practised in a few talukas of Goa, Ghode Modni is a form of warrior dance. Ghode means horse and modni mean dance moves. This dance is performed to celebrate the triumph of the Ranes, the Maratha rulers of the Sattari taluka in Goa, over the Portuguese. Dressed as a horse below the waist, donning colorful costumes and turbans, dancers perform horse-like moves.
Chhau (West Bengal, Orissa & Jharkhand): Chhau is a semi-classical dance form of India. The dancers wearing masks perform the folk-tribal dance narrating a story through it. Its origins are traced to Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal but there are a few variations in the forms practiced in these states.
Saila dance (Chhattisgarh): The most prominent folk dance of Chhattisgarh is Saila dance, performed in post-harvest season. Mostly performed by boys, Saila involves a stick and the dancers stand on one leg with the support of the person in front. The climax of the dance is usually snake dance, the dancers are offered paddy after their performance which they take home.
Rouf (Jammu & Kashmir): Rouf is performed in Jammu and Kashmir during the spring season. A slow and poetic dance form involves two rows of dancers facing each other dancing to Chakri. Chakris are songs to which the dancers move gracefully in a circle. Often performed at marriages and festivals like Eid, Rouf is a prominent dance form of Kashmir.
Sattriya (Assam): Sattariya was an unexplored dance form that had its origins in the Northeast. From the year 2000, it began to be recognised as one of the 8 classical dance forms. Introduced by Srimanta Sankaradeva, Sattariya is performed as a narrative dance, often on various mythological stories.