What makes a dance
An art from this stature evolves over a long period of
time. Its technique is stylized, crystallized, codified,
and its projection conforms to a particular and
predetermined pattern of conscious artistry.
Emotion, a necessary concomitant of every expressional
art, is intrinsic to classical dance too, but far from
being instinctive or impulsive, it is engendered through
the performer's express volition and is ruled by the
Unlike folk dance, classical dance is performed not so
much for the participant's own satisfaction as for that of
another, consequently classical dance presupposes the
existence of not only the performer, but also the
beholder; and it is only when rapport is established
between the two that the implicit function of the dance
can be said to have been fulfilled.
Again, while in folk dance the performer may imbibe the
technique merely through exposure to the form concerned,
in classical dance this can, by and large, he achieved
only through instruction.
And, finally, it can also be said that classical dance is
the dance that has stood the best of time; it is dance
that stems from the inspiration and work of the individual
rather than of the collective; it is dance that not only
affords appeal to the senses, but also stimulates the
intelligence of performer and spectator alike.
One fundamental attribute of classical Indian dance forms,
is that practically all of them spring from the religious
usages of the people, and, for their thematic content,
depend almost wholly on the rich mythological lore of
Their technique is based, directly or otherwise, on
certain ancient and revered treatises, of which the
earliest, Natya Shastra, was written nearly two millennia
According to these texts, dancing is considered as having
three principal and distinct aspects: Nritta, Nritya and
Nritta implies pure and simple dance. this consists of
movements of the body and limbs, performed for their own
sake, for their own beauty and decorative affect, and not
in order to convey any special meaning to beholder.
Nritya, on the other hand, is dance which is essentially
expressional, performed specifically to convey the meaning
or import of a theme or idea. This is accomplished through
the use of facial expressions, codified gestures of the
hands and symbolic poses of the body.
Natya consists, like Nritya, or facial expressions and
hand gestures, but it has, in addition, the element of
drama, which is introduced through the use of spoken word.
Another cardinal division recognized by the ancient
authorities is that of Tandava or Lasya. Tandava is bold
and robust, while Lasya is tender and graceful.
It deserves to be noted, however, that Labels, Nritta,
Nritya, Natya, Tandava and Lasya, and others of their
kind, do not refer to and distinct types of dance, but
only represent technical facets common to various
The best season for witnessing dance in India is Winter
(October through February), when great festivals of music
and dance take place.