Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fugdi:Folk dance form of Konkan region

Fugdi or "Foogdi" is the most popular folk dance form of  Konkan region. It is performed during Hindu religious festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Vrata or towards the end of other dances like Dhalo. It is also performed during various religious and social occasions. It is generally performed during the month of Bhaadrapada, an occasion for the women to take a temporary break from their normal, monotonous schedule. In the Konkan region the women fetch water from long distances.

During the dance performance the women sing and dance. This dance is has different variation. In first variation it is performed in circle. In other it is performed in rows. In villages there is a tradition of performing this dance in circle where in the forest region it is performed in rows.

The speciality of this dance is that no songs are sung during this dance performance. They use their hands for clapping. During the dance performance the women move in the circle. During the dance performance the dancer blow air through the mouth at maximum pace. During this process a sound ‘FOO’ can be heard. It is one of the reason for the nomenclature of the dance.

Fugdi songs which are sung during the dance performance are based on ancient stories, family life, complaints, rivalries or people.

This dance form has many variation like Kalashi Fugdi, Bus Fugdi, Kombda, Ghuma, and Pakhwa.

Kalashi Fugdi

Kalashi Fugdi is an interesting folk dance performed by the women of Goa. It is performed before Goddess Lakshmi during the vrata. This dance has been derived from a famous dance called Fugdi. In this dance, a group of women dance with copper pitchers in their hands. While dancing to the music, the women blow into the pitchers. The vessel symbolizes the womb, while blowing into it indicates the act of imparting of life into it.

There is an interesting claim to the origin of this dance. In the villages, it is a norm for the women to fetch water from the nearby river or pond. To break the monotony of the long journey, the women developed this dance by blowing into the empty pitchers.

Goff Dance

It is a folk dance with cords, manifesting joy and happiness of Goan peasants after the harvest. It is performed during the Shigmo Festival in Phalgun (March) month. Each dancer holds a colourful cord hanging at the centre point of the 'Mand' - the place of performance - and starts dancing intricately with the others, forming a beautiful, colourful, intricate braid at the end of the first movement.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dandiya Raas: An honour to Goddess Durga

Dandiya Raas Dance is a popular folk Dance of Vrindavan, India. It is the dramatization of a mock fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura - the mighty demon-king. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga. In addition to that scenes of Holi, and lila of Krishna and Radha can be seen during this dance. It is organised during the nine days of navratri festival. It is the featured and most popular dance of Navratri evenings in Gujarat. It is performed in other states to honour Goddess Durga. It is performed before Aarti.

Dandia is a dance form usually performed in a group, by both men and women. It is performed at social functions and on stage. The main feature of Rasa is dancing in a circle by men and woman, to the accompaniment of musical instruments and keeping time either by clapping or beating of two sticks. The number of dancers go from 8,16, 32 up to 64 couples, who also sing the song. Grace and slow movements are just as important of the dancer in the circle. The exact dance is extremely complicated and energetic. At least two circles are formed. One revolves in clockwise direction and the other one revolves in the anti-clock wise direction.
Musical accompaniments to Garba are Damru, Tabla, Nagara, pot drum, percussion, Ektaro, Ravan hattho, Jantar, Pavo, shehani, murli, turi, and taturi.

Dandiya Raas songs are mostly in praise of Mother Goddess Amba describing her form, powers, and invoking her blessings. Also there are Dandiya Raas describing seasons and social themes of domestic ends and married life. Pre-recorded cassette which contains non- stop remixed Raas music is used on the occasion. As the time passed the disco beat and use of western drum became popular in these events.

There is a dress code for this type of dance. It is different for men and women. For women it is a three-piece ghagra, cholis, and odhni. Men in Dandiya dress up in matching colourful traditional dhotis and aangrakha or kurtas with loads of mirrors on the dress. The vibrant clothes of the dancers make the performance more colourful  to watch.

The dance is a very energetic and fast paced activity, which leaves no scope for lethargy.

Phaguni pathak is one of the most famous singers who sing during the garba dance performance. She is known as the undisputed Queen of Dandiya. She is a very talented and energetic performer. She is very popular with the Gujarati community where she is called to perform for popular festivals like Navratri.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Giddha: Mimicry of Emotion

Giddha is an evergreen, popular folk dance of Punjab. It is known from the scriptures that this dance form is derived from an ancient dance known as ring dance which is very much similar to bhangra. It is stylistically simple, free-style and spontaneous dance form. This dance has a female dominance. It is a highly creative dance which reflects feminine beauty. Women perform this dance mainly at festive or social occasions.

This dance is performed in circles. All the female participants gather in a circle. One of the dancers sits in the circle with a drum. During the performance all the participants move in a circle.

The swinging and twisting the body, shaking the shoulders while bending knees make this dance distinguishable from other dance forms. One can identify Giddha when they see the women clapping their hands during the dance performance. Clapping is one of the prominent features of this dance form. The movement of legs is also a feature of this dance form. The dancers enact verses called bolis, which represent folk poetry at its best. This dance exhibits teasing, fun and exuberance of Punjabi life. These bolis are based on different emotional subjects like arguments, humorous, teasing, love, nature and various topics. This dance can be also theme based i.e some talk about love affairs to the loneliness of a bride separated from her groom. Two or three women form a group and perform these acts by coming in the centre of the circle. Mimicry is also very popular in Giddha. One girl may play the aged bridegroom and another his young bride; or one may play a quarrel-some sister-in-law and another a humble bride. In this way Giddha provides for all the best forum for venting of one's emotions. Giddha dance incorporate village life scenes of woman spinning cotton, fetching water from the well, grinding, etc. This is accompanied with appropriate boli and songs.
No musical instruments are used in this dance. Only drum(dolakh) is used to provides the rhythm for the dance. The distinctive hand-claps of the dancers are a prominent feature of this art-form.

All we know that this dance is colourful so are the clothes. As this is a feminine dance colourful clothes adds a grace to the beauty of the female dancers. The dress worn by the females include Dupatta (chunni or scarf),Kameez (shirt),Salwaar (baggy pants), Tikka (jewellery on the forehead),Jhumka (long dangling earrings),Paranda (braid tassle),Suggi-Phul (worn on head),Raani-Haar (a long necklace made of solid gold),Haar-Hamela (gem-studded golden necklace),Baazu-Band (worn around upper-arm),Pazaibs (anklets).

The dance continues for a considerable period of time which can range from several hours to dawn. This dance also reflects the rich culture of Punjab.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Garba: A colourful, musical and energetic folk dance of Gujarat

Garba Dance is a popular folk Dance of Gujarat. It is the leading dance of women in this part of the country. It is more similar to the classical Indian dances such as Bharatanatyam and Odissi. The word Garba comes from Sanskrit. Garbha means "womb" and Deep "a small earthenware lamp". This dance has some similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture.  This dance is performed by ladies on the Navaratri days which are auspicious days of Goddess Durga in the Winter Months.

This dance is organised in an open space i.e in a club or at the street corners. The participants stand in a circle, around an idol or photograph of the goddess that is kept in the center. The dance in mood begins with beats in slow tempo. As the dance proceeds, the energy level of the participants increases due to the fast beat and tempo of the music. The music is synchronized by a drummer who stands in the center of the dancers. The dance can be of the length of three hours which can be expanded to dawn. It depends on the people convenience. The music played can be the devotional songs of Goddess Durga or it can be the remixed songs with a fast beat and tempo from movies.

The costumes worn during this dance is very colourful.  The females wear  Chaniya choli, a three-piece dress with a choli, which is an embroidered and colorful blouse, teamed with chaniya, which is the flared, skirt-like bottom, and dupatta, which is usually worn in the traditional Gujarati manner. The chaniya choli looks very attractive because they are decorated with beads, shells, mirrors, stars, and embroidery work, mati, etc. In addition to that the girls also apply makeup on their face and put bindi on their forehead. They also wear bangles on their wrists. In addition to that they wear payal on their knees which make a pleasant sound why they dance.

This dance is influenced by the Daniya Ras. Only difference is that Garba is played by hands. The dance steps involve singing and clapping with both hands. The bodies of the participant gracefully bending sideways while every step and arms coming together in beautiful sweeping gestures in different directions. Where almost always all the movement ends in a clap is a distinct feature of this dance.

This dance has a religious aspect also. The participant dance around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a Garbha Deep. This lantern is the symbol of life. In general Grabha mean a baby which signifies life is in a mothers womb. This dance honours the feminine Goddess Durga who is the symbol of power.

Garba is not only popuplar in India it is now being appreciated worldwide. This dance form is very popular in the United States.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bhangra: A dance of enthusiasm and playfulness

Bhangra a dance of enthusiasm and playfulness originated in the 18th century in Punjab. It got its name from one of the major products of the harvest—bhang (hemp) and that is how bhangra drew its name. This traditional and lively form of folk dance is conducted during the harvest season. This dance is an expression of good harvest. Bhangra is considered the king of dances. It is also performed on the day of Baisakhi.

It is performed in a team, involves co-ordination, timing and technique amongst the various team members. The people taking part in this dance move around the circle. At the centre of the circle the drummer is standing. He beats the drums with two sticks. The music of the drum adds enthusiasm to this dance.

Bhangra is one of the most significant traditions of the Punjabi culture because it symbolizes the imagination, talent, potential and charisma of Punjab’s people. Illustrating the sowing of seeds, hoeing, cutting of wheat and the selling of crops in the beautiful choreography, this folk dance remains popular within the villages of the Gujranwalla, Gujrat, Shekhpura, Sialkot and Gurdaspur districts. Simple but vigorous, bhangra is a dance of enthusiasm and gaiety.

The dance is accompanied by music. It is a combination of music from a dhol, folk singing, and the chimta (tongs). The songs are small couplets written in the Punjabi language called bolis. The speciality of the singer is that the person must have a high, energetic tone of voice.

The singer adds random noises to singing. People dancing on the beats would raise their voice and shout “hoi, hoi, hoi”, “balle balle”, “chak de”,”oye hoi”, “bruah haripa” or “ch-ch”.

Men wear a chaadra while doing bhangra. It is a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist. Men also wear a kurta, which is a long shirt. In addition, men wear pagri (turban) to cover their heads.Women wear a traditional Punjabi dress known as a salwar kameez, long baggy pants tight at the ankle (salwar) and a long colorful shirt (kameez). Women also wear chunnis, colorful pieces of cloth wrapped around the neck. These dresses make this dance vibrant, representing the rich rural colors of Punjab.

This dance is moving quickly to all divisions of class and education, eventually becoming a part of weddings, New Year parties, and other important occasions. This dance form is very popular in countries like North America, UK. It is marketed by music corporations as a source of revenue in the form of cassettes and CDs.Commercial Bhangra groups came into being in UK and other places and performed this Bhangra dance.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sattriya: A mythological theme based dance

Sattriya is a classical dance which is devotional in nature. It originated in in the 15th century in Assam. The person who contributed in its evolution was the great Vaishnavite saint Shri Sankardev. It is known that he was a social reformer and a great performing artist. It got its name from “sattras” which were Assam's monasteries setup by saint Shri Sankardev for the preservation and propagation of this dance form. After sometime it got the name Sattriya Nritya. It got it base from Ankia Nat or one-act play. These plays depicted the life of Lord Krishna & Lord Rama and numerous dances. Sattriya is a dance form in which music, dance and drama are rolled into one.

The theme of this dance form is mythological stories. This dance presented the stories in a simple and enjoyable manner. In the present the themes have extended from mere mythological stories but the main purpose is to make the dance accessible, immediate. 

The sattriya dance can be classified into two styles namely Paurashik Bhangi i.e Tandav or masculine style & Shtri bhangi i.e Lasya or feminine style. Independent dances include Rajagharia Chali, Chal, Natua, Sattriya Ojapali and Nadubhangi.

This dance form consists of dance patterns which are called bhariman or Khoj.It is the the movements of either single or pair of feet. Sattriya dance has many feet positions or feet stances. There is a basic stance or position in Sattriya dance form where all the dance numbers of Sattriya start, that is called Ora. Ora covers both feet and hand position.

The dresses are usually made of pat, a type of silk produced in Assam, woven with intricate local motifs. The ornaments, too, are based on traditional Assamese designs.

The instruments used during a performance are khols (drums), taals (cymbals) and the flute. Other instruments like the violin and the harmonium have been recent additions.

In the past this dance was performed by the male monks who used to live in “sattras”. They used it for ritualistic and other purposes. Latter as this dance form gained popularity, it is now presented by men and women who are not the members of “sattras”. It is still practised, preserved and performed consistently in the Vaishnavite monasteries. This classical dance form has also been well appreciated and practiced outside the Indian mainland as well. 

Many ancient Indian classical texts like Natyashastra, Kalikapurana, Yoginitantra, Abhinayadarpana and also in sculptures, historical relics contains the description about this classical dance.

Nartan Kala Niketan of Guwahati in Assam, a premier institution of Sattriya dance is pursuing this goal to promote and popularise this dance across the globe through their performances.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Odissi: The oldest dance form of India

Odisha which is an eastern state of India is known as the home of Odissi, is acknowledge as the eight classical dance forms. On the basis of archaeological evidences found in the caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri near Bhubaneshwar it is evident that it originated 2nd century B.C. This fact makes it the oldest surviving dance of the modern India. Evidences also suggest that it originated as a court dance. This dance form influenced other communities like Jain’s and Buddhism. Initially it was performed as a temple dance. It was performed by a community called Maharis who dedicated their lives in the services of God.  This dance was used to worship Lord Shiva who is known as master dancer himself. He is also known as Nataraj, the Cosmic Lord of Dance.

Facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements are the main constituents of this dance form which reflects certain form of feelings. The torso movement is very important and is an unique feature of the Odissi style. With the lower half of the body remaining static, the torso moves from one side to the other along the axis passing through the centre of the upper half of the body. Foot and leg positions makes this dance majestic to watch.

Odissi dance is performed on Odissi music. This music is a blend of four classes of music which are Dhruvapada, Chitrapada, Chitrakala and Panchal. Dhruvapada is the initial lines which are sung repeatedly. Chitrapada is known as the arrangement of words. The use of art in music is called Chitrakala. The speed of song being sung is synchronized with the music which makes it pleasant to the ears. The instruments used are pakhawaj, Bansuri, Manjira, Sitar, Tanpura.

The jewellery used during the performance is made from silver. It is an integral part of a female dancer. Some of the jewellery used during a performance are Seenthi, Tikka, Mathami, Allaka, and Kapa. The armlets also known as Bajuband are worn on the two arms. The female dancer also waers makup which includes Bindi on the forhead and Kajal in the eyes which make her look preety. The Saree worn by Odissi dancers are generally coloured with bright shades of orange, purple, red or green.

The dance is performed mainly with the theme of Infinite love of Lord Krishna and Radha. A typical recital of Odissi will contain at least one or two ashtapadis (poem of eight couplets) from Jayadeva's Gita Govindam, which describes in exquisite Sanskrit poetry the complex relationship between Radha and her Lord. It is a dance of love, delight and intense passion, lyrical, pure, divine and human all rolled into one. The performance can be in the groups or it can be an individual also.

Great training is required to learn this dance form. It takes around five to seven years to get trained in this style.

Some of the renowned Odissi dancers are Guru Pankajcharan, Guru Kelucharna, Late Debprasad, late Sanjukta Panigrahi, Kumkum Mohanty, Indrani Rehema, Guru Nabakishore, Guru Gangadhar, Guru Ranbir, Guru Subrat Pattaniak and Illena.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Mohiniyattam: A dance of the enchantress

Mohiniyattam which originated in 16th century is a classical dance form which has strings attached to the southern state of Kerala India. It is thought to be closely related to ' Bharathanatyam ' and ' Kathakali '. Some say that it is a fusion of these two classical dance forms. History also describes that it originated as temple dance.

Mohiniyattam is composed of two words “Mohini” and “attam”. “Mohini” mean a woman who enchants onlookers and “attam” graceful and sensuous body movements. The combination of these two words says that it is the “dance of an enchantress”. It is clear from it name that it is performed by females only.  There are two mythological stories associated with this classical dance. In the first story Lord Vishnu changed himself into a very beautiful dancer named Mohini and attracted the demons away from the nectar which was obtained by the process of churning of the palazhi (Samudra Manthan). Second story describes how Mohini saves Lord Shiva from the demon Bhasmasura. Lord Shiva gave a boon to Bhasmasura. According to it, if he kept his hand on anybody head the person would change to ashes. When the evil demon got it he tried to verify it on Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva asked for help from Lord Vishu. Lord Vishu changed into Mohini. She went to Bhasmasura and started dancing. He was very pleased and started following the steps of the beautiful dancer. At last Mohini kept her hand on her head so did Bhasmasura. As he did this he changed into ashes.

GRACE (Lasya) and  BEAUTY (Sringara) are two main components of these dance. This dance is characterised by the graceful body movements. The body goes up and down during the dance steps. These steps seem to be very simple but the dancer required a lot of practise to become a perfectionist. The body movements are never redundant. They vary with the dance steps. This dance is the symbol of love.
In Mohiniyattam the dancer wears a nine yard white Sari with a pleated golden border, almost like a skirt than a Sari and a matching blouse with a covering piece over it to cover the body. A small fan like piece is worn just below the waist over the skirt. Eyes and eye-brows are blackened, lips are reddened and the palms and the edges of the feet are coloured with chempanchi or Mayilanji (a paste made of leaves from the plants by the same name).The hair of the performer are tied on the left and then decorated with jasmine flowers. Ornaments used are earrings-like Kadukkan, Kodakadukkan and Thoda.

The instruments used in this dance are Vocal, Veena, Venu, Maddalam and Idakka.  

There are many people who contributed their efforts to popularise this dance. One of them was Swathi Thirunal, the Maharaja of the state of Travancore during the 19th century. He along with Vallathol Narayana Menon and Smt. Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma  are known as three pillars who contributed in promoting this dance form.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Manipuri: A temple traditional dance style

Manipuri is a very beautiful classical dance which has strings attached to the state of Manipur. It is an integral part of the people living in the mountains. It has become a custom to keep a dance performance during weddings and homage to ancestors. 

The origin of this dance relates to a ritual dance Lai Haroba but in the present scenario it has gained more popularity than it pre successor because of high artistic and technical standards. Latter it gained popularity in other parts of India by the efforts of Guru Rabindranath Tagore.

This dance is truly devotional in nature. Watching this dance gives a spiritual experience. It is also one of the most meaningful dances of the world. In addition to that it is mostly performed in groups but solo performances are limited in number. Two dance styles of Manipuri are very popular. First is Lasya – the female style and second is tandava – the male style. There are different forms of Manipuri dance which includes Ras Lila, the Pung Cholom, Nupa Cholom, Thoibi.

Ras Lila: It is a devotional theme dance which revolves around Lord Krishna and Radha. This shows the magnificent dance of Krishna and the cowherd girls. The dancers are dressed in embroidered skirts which covered their waist and goes down to their ankle. The dancers also wear veils which cover their head and face. The dancer who portrays the character of Krishna wears a tall peacock feather crown which adds a radiant appearance to this dance. This dance shows the intense love of Radha for Lord Krishna. This dance is performed in a temple. The performances are solo duet and group dances.

Legends of Manipuri Dance

Guru Bipin Singh

He was a director, choreographer and teacher of Manipuri dance. He began training in his childhood and focussed on Manipuri dance. He created a couple of schools where student can learn this classical art.

Darshana Jhaveri

She is a leading Indian exponent of Manipuri dance. She is performing on stage since 1958 along with her sisters. She is one of the founders of the Manipuri Nartanalaya in 1972, which popularized Manipuri dance in India. She learned Manipuri dance from Guru Bipin Singh at their home. She along with her sister was the first non-Manipuris to perform their dances at the Govindji Temple inside the royal palace of Imphal, Manipur.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Kuchipudi: A classical dance form

Kuchipudi is the classical dance form which belongs to Andhra Pradesh, India. It derived it name from the village of Kuchelapuram, a small village about 65 kilometres from Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh.

A legend is related to the association with the origin of Kuchipudi. He was an orphan and was raised by the villagers. He was married in the childhood. Later he went to Udipi for Vedic studies.  During his study he acquired the name Sidhendra Yogi. When he returned to village the villagers told him to take the family responsibilities on his shoulder. He has to swim to reach the village where his family was staying. As he was swimming he realised that he is tired and can't swim any further. He prayed to the god for strength. Somehow he reached the shore of the river and thanked God. Latter he devoted his life to the service of God. He then settled in the village of Kuchelapuram and started teaching.

Kuchipudi is group performance which requires a troop of dancers and actors. A dance performance was presented in open air on a highly decorated stage. Earlier the female roles were played by boys and young men of comely appearance. The director of the stage played the key role. He was the conductor, dancer, singer, musician, comedian, all rolled into one. The play begins with music which included Mridanga, Madala and a pair of cymbals, followed by a prayer to a deity and appearance of Ganesha, the elephant headed god to bless the performance. Then came the dancers offering worship to the Flagstaff or Flag of Indra. The director then announced the theme of the play, introduced the characters in his sing-song voice and appealed the audience to witness the show with attention. This marked the end of the prelude and the beginning of the play proper. Kuchipudi dancers are flexibler and very clever, rounded and fleet-footed, they perform with grace and fluid movements.

Today Kuchipudi is considerably a different style of dance form than it originally used to be. Over 2,800 Kuchipudi dancers, including 200-plus natyagurus created a Guinness World Records on December 26, 2010 performing Hindolam Thillana at the GMC Balayogi Stadium in Hyderabad.

A number of people were responsible for moving it from the villages to the performance stage.  One of the most notable Uma Murali.

Uma Murali

Uma is a brilliant dancer with excellent skills. She began her training in a tender age of five. Latter she devoted herself to Kuchupudi. She portrayed the character of Madhavi in Silapadhigaram the “Magnum opus’ production of Shri Madurai. R. Muralidaran . She received innumerable titles and accolades for her outstanding skills and fluency in this dance field. She has represented Indian Classical Dance in International festival. Uma has amused audiences with her unique style of dance.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Kathakali: A Classical Art

Kathakali belongs to south Indian state of Kerala where it originated in the 17th century. This dance form has its roots related to the Hindu mythology. It means a story play or a dance drama. The prominent features of this dance form is attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music. It is a popular belief that kathakali originated from "Krishnanattam".Now a days it has improved by the addition of new looks, refined gestures and added themes.

Kathakali is a classical art form which is characterise by the movements of the hands, facial expressions and bodily movements. The movements of the hands are called mudras. It is a sign language used to tell the story.

The dance performances are religious in nature. They are typically influenced by Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the ancient scriptures known as the Puranas. The dancers wear large head dresses, and the contours of the face are extended with moulded lime. The extraordinary costumes and make-up serve to raise the participants above the level of mere mortals, so that they may transport the audience to a world of wonders. The faces of noble male characters Rama, etc., are predominantly green. While the faces of the evil characters such as Ravan are painted green but they have slashed red markings.  The language of the songs used for Kathakali is Manipravalam.

 In olden times a dance performance used to continue for the whole night. At present it is reduced to two to three hours. The tradition which is followed from the past that Kathakali performance begins in the evening.  A simple stage is used for the performance where large oil-fed lamp is placed in front of the stage. Two people hold the curtain. There are different dance styles which differ in hand gestures and stress on dance than drama and vice versa.  

This dance is performed by men only. Female’s characters are also performed by them. However this dance has opened the doors for the women also. Now women are also started becoming Kathakali dancers. It takes eight to ten years of rigorous practice to transform into a Kathakali Dancer .

"The International Centre for Kathakali" at New Delhi has taken up a continuing project since 1980 to modernise, propagate, promote and popularizing Kathakali.

Vasu Pisharody: A Living Legend

He is a leading Kathakali artiste known for his character roles in the classical dance-drama of Kerala. After schooling he took Kathakali lessons under Balakrishnan Nair at Kerala. He undertook further studies for seven years. He is a winner of the prestigious Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award. He took a break from Kathakali since 2005 but latter in 2009 he made a comeback.