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South Indian Music & Dance

Music and Dance of South India

Celebrating Every Phase Of Life

India is the land of colours, celebrations, music, dance and festivities. One can find a rich and varied collection of folk dances here. And when it comes to the south Indian belt, this region has always played a vital role in making the Indian culture rich with its various dance and music forms. South Indian music and dance forms are known for their great contribution in developing some unique and beautiful classical art forms in the country.

Dance Forms
Most of the dance forms in south India are folk based. They generally as entertainment options, particularly for those who live in the rural areas. These folk art/dance forms are less complex in their performing techniques in comparison to the classical ones. But these also follow a particular set of rules, which can vary from one dance form to another.

Great sage Bharat Muni has written 'Natya Sastra', which has one of the best collections of dance forms in the world. In this text, he has mentioned all the techniques to be used in the elaborate dance forms like Koodiyattam, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Theyyam, Ottamthullal, Oppana, Kerala Natanam, Mohiniyattam and Yakshagana, which are quite popular in south India.

Bharatnatyam, originated from Tamil Nadu is one of the most famous dance forms in India. Initially performed by Devdasis or 'maids of God' in the temples, it is the oldest classical dance form. It symbolizes the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body. Its techniques are also based on the philosophy of Natyashastra- 'Angikam Bhuvanam Yasya' (The body is your world). Kathakali, a dramatic dance form involving masks and intense expressions, is the finest of all dances. It was evolved in Kerala from the courts of the Kings where it used to be performed for entertainment. Mudras (body gestures) and facial make-up are important features of this dance. Similarly, Mohiniyattam (evolved in Kerala; a devotional dance form belonging to Devdasis), Dollu Kunitha (evolved in Karnataka; performed by the shepherd community 'Kubra') and Kuchipudi (having 80 dance sequences; best showcased in the pot dance where the performer dances while balancing a pot on her head with her feet on the rims of a thali) are a few other ancient dance forms.

Music runs in the blood of South Indians. Even the children here are encouraged by their elders to learn dance and music. Almost all the states in southern India has developed a unique kind of music pattern. Kerala is known for Sopanam music, which is religious in nature, while Karnataka is famous for Carnatic and Hindustani Classical music. When it comes to Tamil Nadu, the state follows only Carnatic and Folk Music. Contrary to this, Pondicherry has evolved with a unique music pattern that is mainly the extension of other South Indian music forms.

This way, south India has a number of folk dances and music forms, and their variations can be found in other parts of India as well. These ancient music and dance forms seem to be influenced by the temples here.

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